Southeastern District approves $28.8 million budget

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project via the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District

Here’s the release from the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Chris Woodka):

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District Thursday approved a $28.8 million budget for 2018, which includes the District’s general fund, Enterprise water fund and a newly created hydropower fund within the enterprise.

The general fund totals $16 million, most of which reflects Fryingpan-Arkansas Project payments to the Bureau of Reclamation. Those payments total $13.1 million, including $7.4 million from property taxes in parts of nine counties for Fry-Ark Contract obligations, and $5.3 million in payment from the Fountain Valley Authority in El Paso County. Other payments to Reclamation include $265,000 for excess-capacity contracts and an estimated $117,000 for winter water.

The District assesses a 0.940 mill levy, of which 0.9 mills goes toward the Reclamation Fry-Ark Contract; 0.035 mills for operation; and 0.005 mills for refunds and abatements adjustments. Tax collections total about $7.8 million.

Operating revenues and expenditures for the District are expected to top $2.5 million in 2018.

The water activity enterprise, the district’s business arm, has a $2.7 million budget in 2018. Enterprise funds are generated from water sales, surcharges on water storage or sales and contractual arrangements.

The hydroelectric fund supports an electric generation plant under construction at Pueblo Dam. The Colorado Conservation Board approved a $17.2 million loan in 2016 toward the $20 million project. The remainder of the project is funded by the enterprise. Expenditures in 2018 are expected to be nearly $10 million.

Construction began in October 2017, after purchase of power details were finalized. The power plant should begin operations in 2018, with the first full year of electricity production in 2019.

#Colorado water infrastructure projects score $24.9 million from @EPA

The water treatment process

From The Greeley Tribune (Trevor Reid):

The funding includes about $10.6 million in clean water infrastructure and $14.3 million in drinking water state revolving loan funding.

“The State Revolving Fund programs are critical for Colorado as they have provided the ability to fund more than $1.2 billion for clean water and $600 million for drinking water infrastructure projects throughout the state,” Pat Pfaltzgraff, director of the state’s Water Quality Control Division, said in the release. “The SRF programs continue to help offset the $12 billion dollar funding gap.”

According to the release, Colorado’s water infrastructure projects also are funded with state match, repayments from State Revolving Fund loans and interest earnings. Key projects for wastewater treatment and drinking water State Revolving Fund loans include: $43 million to Evans for its new consolidated wastewater treatment plant, $320,000 to Larimer County’s Wonderview Condos Association to replace its collection system and $58 million to Breckenridge for an intake structure, raw water piping and a water treatment plant.

A federal-state partnership, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund provides financing for water quality projects through low-interest loans. The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund was created in 1996 and provides financial support to ensure safe drinking water.

Israeli water wonks share their strategies

Desalination plant, Aruba

From The Montrose Press (Katharhynn Heidelberg):

[Don] Coram was among legislators and policy leaders selected by JEWISHcolorado for its recent Jewish Community Relations Council Public Officials Mission. The mission took a bipartisan group, including Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, to Israel last week.

Coram and the others got up-close looks at how the Israelis desalinize seawater and recycle water for agriculture in their arid landscape. Although the nation is many thousand miles removed from landlocked Western Colorado, what’s being done there may have potential here, Coram said.

“It’s pretty amazing what they do. I’m trying to figure out how we could make this work in Colorado,” the Montrose Republican said by phone from Jerusalem on Nov. 30.

In his estimation, Israel leads the world in water technology such as the drip irrigation Western Slope farmers have begun employing. Israel also leads in water savings — and in ways to re-use water.

“I think a lot of things I can certainly bring back home to benefit Colorado,” Coram said, making note of the Colorado Water Plan. The plan, prompted by a 2013 executive order and now two years old, set the framework for future water conservation decisions, as well as ambitious implementation goals at the state and local levels.

Sixty percent of water used in Israel comes from desalinization and it is piped into Arab states, too, Coram said. The nation’s fresh water comes from the Sea of Galilee, which is actually a large lake.

The public officials mission took participants on a “full gamut” tour of Israel’s renewable resource efforts…

Last Thursday, the mission took its guests about 50 miles along the Egyptian border toward the largest solar project in the world, per Coram.

The public officials mission is designed to educate and connect Colorado policymakers and business leaders with people in Israel to share cutting-edge initiatives in technology, agriculture, water rights, conservation and cyber intelligence, according to information from the Denver-based JEWISHcolorado.

“JEWISHcolorado’s mission is to strengthen and steward Jewish life in Colorado, Israel and around the world,” Andra Davidson, the organization’s vice president of marketing and events, said.

“There is no substitute for first-hand experience, and we have created a dynamic trip that gives those attending a first-hand look at the many rich facets of Israel’s culture, business world, innovations and history. We know that the relationships that develop between Colorado and Israel will be beneficial for many years to come.”

The organization’s Jewish Community Relations Council focuses on making its public officials missions bipartisan, and invites people its representatives think are up-and-coming leaders.

The council is a coalition of 38 Jewish organizations and 15 at-large members in the state, who speak as a single voice on issues of concern to the Jewish community.

@USBR to Negotiate Water Exchange Contract with State of #Utah for #LakePowell Pipeline #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Glen Canyon Dam photo credit Greg Hobbs.

Here’s the release from Reclamation (Marlon Duke):

The Bureau of Reclamation and State of Utah are initiating negotiations for a water exchange contract, which proposes exchanging the state’s assigned Green River water right for use of Colorado River Storage Project water released from Flaming Gorge Dam. The negotiation meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 4, 2017, at 1:00 p.m. at the Dixie Convention Center, 1835 South Convention Center Drive, St. George, Utah.

The exchange will provide Utah with a reliable and certain water supply, while assisting Reclamation in meeting its legal obligations. It will enable part of the state’s Colorado River apportionment to flow from Flaming Gorge Dam to Lake Powell for diversion into Utah’s proposed Lake Powell Pipeline.

The negotiation meeting is open to the public. The public will have the opportunity to ask questions and offer comments pertaining to the exchange during an open house period immediately prior to formal negotiations and during a comment period following the negotiation session. The proposed exchange contract and other pertinent documents will be available at the negotiation meeting or can be obtained on Reclamation’s website at: https://www.usbr.gov/uc/provo/index.html, under “News and Highlights”.

A look at the #Colorado-Big Thompson Project #ColoradoRiver #COriver

First water through the Adams Tunnel. Photo credit Northern Water.

From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Kenneth Jessen):

The drought of the 1930s was the impetus for the Colorado-Big Thompson Project.

Work started in 1938 and would span nearly two decades to complete.

The first project was the Green Mountain Reservoir on the Blue River. The water stored ran north into the Colorado River and is used to compensate for water that would be diverted to the Eastern Slope.

A significant year for the project was 1944 when work ended on the Alva B. Adams Tunnel, just over 13 miles long. It carried water under the Continental Divide.

Lake Granby, the largest reservoir in the system, stores Colorado River water during the spring runoff. A second project was the nearby Shadow Mountain Reservoir connected to Grand Lake by a short canal. The two bodies of water are nearly 90 feet higher than Lake Granby.

The Alva B. Adams Tunnel’s west portal is on the east side of Grand Lake which, incidentally, is the largest natural water body in Colorado.

After the spring runoff and to keep Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake filled, a pumping station brings Lake Granby water up to their level.

Added in 1951-52 and on the west side of the Continental Divide is the Willow Creek Reservoir. A pumping station elevates the water 175 feet to a canal flowing into Lake Granby.

The 9 ½ -foot in diameter Alva B. Adams Tunnel drops 109 feet in its 13 miles, ending at the East Portal.

From a small lake at the East Portal, the water is carried via a siphon under Aspen Brook to the Rams Horn Tunnel and via a penstock, down to the Marys Lake power plant. This is a drop of 205 feet.

Running directly under the summit of Prospect Mountain, yet another tunnel and penstock delivers water to the Lake Estes power plant, a drop of 482 feet.

From Lake Estes, water flows east first through the Olympus Tunnel to the 5 ½ -mile long Pole Hill Tunnel.

Water is delivered to the top of a canal then to a penstock. It drops 815 feet to the Pole Hill power plant. From there, the water enters the 1 ¾ -mile-long Rattlesnake Tunnel, ending on the west side of Pinewood Lake. An intake on the east end of Pinewood Reservoir takes water through the Bald Mountain Tunnel to the penstock visible from Loveland.

Water is delivered to the Flatiron power plant at Flatiron Reservoir over 1,000 feet below.

This is where things get complicated.

During times of excess water, it is pumped up to Carter Lake, 277 feet higher.

Water also flows through a short tunnel north to the Hansen Feeder Canal to Horsetooth Reservoir.

From the south end of Carter Lake, water is delivered into the South St. Vrain Supply Canal. This long canal takes water under part of Rabbit Mountain all the way the Boulder Reservoir.

In all, West Slope water drops nearly 3,000 feet during its journey to the East Slope.

The Colorado-Big Thompson Project has created a dozen reservoirs, uses 35 miles of tunnels and also generates a substantial amount of electric power. These are the power plants:

Marys Lake

Estes Park

Pole Hill

Flatiron

Green Mountain

Big Thompson

Trout

After #Oroville, officials across the West review dam safety — @HighCountryNews

New Oroville spillway finish work. Photo credit California DWR.

Here’s an analysis from Emily Benson writing for The High Country News. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

To avoid the risk of further erosion, however, both spillways [at Oroville] needed to be patched up before this winter. By early November, following months of ‘round-the-clock work, the California Department of Water Resources announced that Oroville was ready for the rainy season, though final repairs will take another year. And the consequences of the incident could last far longer: Its sheer scale means it has the potential to affect legislation and policy, as did earlier disasters at other dams. Safety officials in California and across the West are already reassessing spillways, updating disaster plans and refining evacuation maps, hoping to prevent a repeat of Oroville — or worse.

Structural failures were the immediate cause of the Oroville catastrophe. The main spillway has successfully handled larger flows than what it saw last February. While it’s not yet clear exactly why it broke apart, some researchers say part of the blame lies in poor design and shoddy maintenance — and that those problems could have been addressed. An independent group of dam experts is investigating what went wrong, with a final report expected by the end of 2017. An interim report released in September notes that there was preexisting damage and repairs at the area that first crumbled. Weaknesses there could have allowed water to get beneath the spillway, potentially blasting apart the concrete from below.

Administrative failures — problems with inspections or regulations — may share the blame for what happened at Oroville. A patchwork of agencies meant to prevent such problems regulates dam safety in the United States. Federal agencies like the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers oversee inspection and maintenance at their own dams. Dams that belong to the state, like Oroville, or a utility company or other non-federal entity, are typically under the jurisdiction of a state agency; the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is also involved in dam inspections at non-federal dams with hydropower projects they license, including Oroville…

In Colorado, Oroville confirmed that dam safety officials were already on the right track, says Bill McCormick, the chief of dam safety at Colorado Division of Water Resources. There, the big test came in 2013, when widespread flooding in north-central Colorado driven by torrential rain led to the failure of about a dozen small dams. Nobody was hurt or killed as a result of the failures, “but they did get people’s attention,” McCormick says. (Several people died elsewhere during the flooding.) Another wet season in the spring of 2015 made clear the need to plan for different levels of flooding and dam releases. “Our main lesson from Oroville is that we still need to be vigilant,” he says, “but we’re doing the right things.”

Longmont councillors reduce storage commitment in Chimney Hollow to 8,000 acre-feet

This graphic, provided by Northern Water, depicts Chimney Hollow Reservoir, located southwest of Loveland, after it is built.

From The Longmont Times-Call (John Fryar):

On a 4-2 vote, a Longmont City Council majority on Tuesday night reduced the amount of water the city will contract to store in the Windy Gap Firming Project reservoir to be built in Larimer County.

Council members Polly Christensen, Marcia Martin, Joan Peck and Aren Rodriguez instead changed the city’s commitment to its share of the overall project expense to whatever would be needed to pay for Longmont’s storage of 8,000 acre-feet of water in the Chimney Hollow Reservoir, rather than the 10,000 acre-feet that a previous council majority had favored.

That smaller amount of Longmont water storage is expected to reduce the amount of bonds, if any, that the city would have to sell to help finance its share of the water storage.

It also is expected to reduce the amount of any additional water-rate increases — if any — that Longmont would have had to bill its customers to pay for the $36.3 million in bonds that Longmont voters in the 2017 election authorized the city to sell.

It would not, however, eliminate the 9 percent water-rate increase the previous council had already imposed for 2018, followed by another 9 percent increase in 2019.

Mayor Brian Bagley and Councilwoman Bonnie Finley dissented from the vote to reduce the amount of water that Longmont would have stored, and the resulting reduction in Longmont’s cost share for the reservoir project.