The latest e-Waternews is hot off the presses from @Northern_Water

Workers place pipeline as part of the Southern Water Supply Project II now under construction in Boulder County. Photo credit: Northern Water

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

Construction begins on Southern Water Supply Project II

Crews from Garney Construction have started work on a new pipeline project to bring reliable water supplies to four water providers in Boulder and Larimer counties.

Called the Southern Water Supply Project II, the pipeline will deliver additional Colorado-Big Thompson Project and Windy Gap Project water from Carter Lake to the city of Boulder, town of Berthoud, Left Hand Water District and the Longs Peak Water District.

The $44 million project includes more than 20 miles of steel pipe that will improve water quality and at some portions of the year will act as the primary source of raw water for the project’s participants.

Officials estimate the project will be complete in early 2020.

Click here for more information, including an interactive map of the pipeline route.

Proposed Central #Colorado Water Conservancy District $47 million ballot aimed at resilient infrastructure

Recharge pond graphic via the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District.

From Central’s website:

Central’s Board places GMS bond measure on November 2018 ballot

The Board of Directors of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District placed a bond question for the Groundwater Management Subdistrict on to the 2018 ballot. Central’s board and management stated this measure is important to start planning the next steps to secure water rights and build storage for the region. The projects in the bond include:

  • Construction of 5,000 acre-feet of additional reservoir storage—which will increase Central’s holdings by 25 percent—in the Fort Lupton and Greeley/Kersey areas.
  • Construction of the Robert W. Walker Recharge Project, a large project at the Weld and Morgan county lines that will divert water from the South Platte River and send those flows to groundwater recharge basins as far as 5 miles from the river. This will increase drought resiliency for water users in the District. Central was awarded $1.5 million in state and federal grants for the estimated $15 million project.
  • Purchase of several senior water rights that are becoming available for the District’s portfolio, including the purchase of water currently being leased by Central, which will ensure this water stays in the community to be used by local farms and businesses.
  • To review the ballot language, click here. Please contact Central’s office if you have any questions.

    From The Greeley Tribune (Sara Knuth):

    Randy Ray said every local water manager remembers years like 2002 and 2012.

    “That’s one thing water managers don’t forget: the dry years. We always forget about the wet ones, except for the catastrophic floods,” said Ray, executive director of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District. “How did their water supplies react to the dry years?”

    Water officials try to answer when they look toward the future of their systems. That’s why the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District will place a $48.7 million bond question on the ballot this November in an effort to address priorities that, officials said, would help the district plan for droughts such as the ones that ravaged this part of the state in 2002 and 2012. Another drought currently bakes portions of the state this year, as well.

    Central’s boundaries stretch through parts of Weld, Adams and Morgan counties and serve about 550 farmers who operate about 1,000 irrigation wells…

    The recharge project, the biggest of the three, would claim an estimated $15 million of the funding in an effort to divert water from the South Platte River and send flows to groundwater basins about 5 miles away from the river. Officials said that would create storage to increase drought resiliency for the district’s water users.

    For Ray, the recharge project is a solution to problems years in the making.

    “It’s complicated, but then again, it’s simple,” he said. “If you want to pump groundwater, you’ve got to replace it. We’re just simply putting water in the aquifer to offset pumping and generate additional supplies that we can count on.”

    Recharge projects, which have been in use for decades, exploded in the late 1990s, as strict regulations for well pumping required water users to replace the groundwater they pumped. They work by diverting water to a pond and allowing it to seep into the ground, and eventually, back to the river.

    At the Walker Recharge Project, which is named after a former district president, officials plan to divert the water from the South Platte River when it’s flowing at a high level to ponds along a plateau as far as 5 miles away.

    The district purchased the land for the project in 2015 after it became clear to Central officials that the district can’t rely on leasing reusable water from Thornton, Aurora, Longmont and Westminster sewer discharge plants the way it has in the past.

    Because the population in those cities is growing, Ray said, city officials are more reluctant to give their extra water supplies away. Water managers in those cities remember dry years such as 2002 too.

    Plus, Ray said, the district views the projects as better financial investments.

    “It’s like renting a house,” Ray said. “The landowner is getting the equity, and you’re just basically paying their mortgage.”

    Ray said the other main projects outlined in the ballot question — the reservoir storage and additional senior water rights — also will play a role in helping the district rely less on water leases from cities. The gravel pit reservoir storage, he said, would help the district divert water from the river quickly when water levels are high for additional storage.

    But Ray said the biggest selling point for the bond issue is agriculture.

    “That’s our big campaign, our big message to our constituents, preserving irrigated agriculture in the county,” Ray said.

    By purchasing additional senior water rights, he said, the district could help slow a trend called “buy-and-dry,” in which cities buy water rights from farms.

    “So, when one of those cities purchases those water rights, they retire the land, and it’s got to go back to a dry land setting, which has a lot of negative associations with that,” Ray said. “The economy dries up and the tax bases go away.”

    If Central takes over that water right, Ray argued, farmers would still have access to groundwater to irrigate a portion of the farmland.

    “If you’re 80 years old, 70 years old, that farm and its water rights are your 401(k),” Ray said. “We want to be an alternative to these beautiful senior water rights in Weld County being transferred to Denver, Arapahoe, Douglas counties and reside here under the management of the water conservancy district.”

    Palmer Lake trustees pass ordinance to restrict service area

    Palmer Lake via Wikipedia Commons

    From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Rachel Riley):

    The Palmer Lake Board of Trustees last week unanimously passed the ordinance, which requires that developers drill wells to serve properties outside the service area, Town Administrator Cathy Green said.

    However, developers may still build within the service area and connect to existing water mains, Green said.

    The town provides water to nearly 1,000 households and businesses. An engineering services company has found the municipal water supply can support about 80 more taps.

    In late July, the town implemented Stage 2 water restrictions — preventing residents from watering their lawns and washing their cars — due to a broken pump on one of its wells and abnormally low reservoir levels.

    But the town is finishing the installation of a new pump on the well, so the emergency restrictions will be lifted soon, Green said.

    Normal year-round restrictions, which require Palmer Lake residents to water their lawns only on certain days of the week, will remain in place, she said.

    Fountain Creek trial: @EPA, et al. v. Colorado Springs begins

    The confluence of Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River in Pueblo County — photo via the Colorado Springs Business Journal

    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Robert Boczkiewic):

    A trial began Wednesday to determine whether the city of Colorado Springs violated clean water laws by discharging pollutants and large-volume water flows from its storm water into Fountain Creek and other Arkansas River tributaries.

    The trial is for a 2016 lawsuit by federal and state.environmental agencies against Colorado Springs. The case is central to long-standing disputes that Pueblo County and the Lower Arkansas River Valley have with the city for defiling the creek and the river.

    The environmental agencies contend the city is responsible for creating a threat to public health because the stormwaters increase levels of E. coli, pesticides and other pollutants into the creek.

    The agencies also contend discharge of “extraordinary high levels of sediment impairs (the creek’s) ability to sustain aquatic life, damages downstream infrastructure and communities like Pueblo, worsen flood damage (and) impairs farmers’ ability to irrigate and obtain water to which they are legally entitled under Colorado law.”

    Senior Judge Richard P. Match of U.S. District Court in Denver is presiding over the trial that is expected to run at least 10 days.

    The Pueblo County Board of County Commissioners and the Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Health and Environment as plaintiffs by intervening in the case.

    The district is comprised of Pueblo, Otero, Crowley, Bent and Prowers counties.

    The lawsuit alleges that damage to the creek and river is caused because Colorado Springs’ stormwater system is inadequate, and for numerous years has violated clean water laws by exceeding discharge limits set in permits issued by the state for the system…

    An attorney for the city, Steven Perfrement, defended the city’s efforts to operate the system, and to control discharges of pollutants and the volume of water flows. “The city has adopted programs and enforces them.”

    @USBR launches prize competition seeking ideas to continuously power instruments on power generator rotating shafts

    A hydropower generator in a powerplant.

    Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

    The Bureau of Reclamation has launched a new prize competition seeking solutions to provide direct current power of up to 20 watts for electronic instruments on hydropower generating units’ rotating shafts. Power sources for electronics on rotating shafts presently available include batteries and contact solutions. However, existing technologies for these types of power sources are limited with respect to operation, installation, maintenance or other factors. Thus, new solutions are needed to power these instruments, which will be installed permanently on the rotating shaft to collect continuous data of generator operation and performance.

    Reclamation is making a total award pool of $250,000 available for this competition. After the competition deadline, Reclamation will select solutions for experimental validation in a laboratory or field-scale demonstration. The solvers selected for this validation will share up to $50,000, with no award smaller than $5,000. Final awards will be granted from the remaining award pool through critical analysis of the demonstration results by Reclamation and its panel of judges.

    Solutions for this prize competition can be novel approaches or can build upon existing methods and technologies. The solver should submit a white paper that describes a device for providing direct current power to instruments on rotating shafts as defined in the solution requirements. It should be accompanied by a well-articulated rationale supported by literature and/or patent precedents.

    Reclamation is the second largest producer of hydropower in the country, operating 53 power plants. The generating units at these plants are expected to safely and reliably produce the power that is delivered to the western electric grid. Monitoring the generating units is a critical advancement toward keeping these units operational.

    Submissions for this competition must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on December 8, 2018.

    Reclamation is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration on this prize competition.

    To learn more about this prize competition and other competitions Reclamation has hosted, please visit https://www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/index.html.

    @CWCB_DNR: Colorado Watershed Flood Recovery Summary

    Click here to read the report about progress and lessons learned since the September 2013 flooding up and down the Front Range.

    “You have to do what is right for the health of rivers. That’s part of the health of the city” — Patrick Riley #Denver

    Storm drain and open channel improvements between the East Rail Line (38th & Blake Station) and the South Platte River (Globeville Landing Outfall), Stormwater detention/conveyance between the East Rail Line (38th & Blake Station) and Colorado Blvd, (Montclair Basin)
    Stormwater detention/ conveyance immediately east of Colorado Blvd. (Park Hill Basin).

    From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

    Old Denver pulsed with H2O, water that snaked through the creeks and irrigation canals crisscrossing Colorado’s high prairie before 150 years of urban development buried most of them or forced them into pipes.

    New Denver wants those waterways back.

    City leaders are ramping up what they describe as a massive, restorative “daylighting” of buried water channels wherever possible — cutting through pavement and re-engineering old streams and canals to create up to 20 miles of naturalistic riparian corridors. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been committed. Eventual costs are expected to top $1 billion over several decades. This work reflects increased interest worldwide in harnessing water and natural processes to make cities more livable.

    Starting in 1858 with the discovery of gold in Colorado’s mountains, Denver developers focused on filling in creeks to make way for the construction of railroads, streets, smelters and housing — all laid out across a grid imposed on the natural landscape. The 184-page Green Infrastructure Implementation Strategy that Mayor Michael Hancock’s administration issued this summer reverses that approach with an inventory of high-priority projects aimed at — to the extent that booming growth and development will allow — reopening and revitalizing waterways.

    “It is like undoing history,” project manager Patrick Riley said last week along a newly formed 1,000-foot stretch of Montclair Creek — already attracting geese as big trucks beeped and contractors in neon green vests re-contoured the urban terrain.

    The Montclair Creek project marks Denver’s most ambitious and controversial daylighting so far, a $298 million revival of a waterway that flows 9 miles from high ground at Fairmount Cemetery (elevation 5,485 feet) under the north half of the city. Work crews are excavating and rerouting water, digging holes for ponds, and planting native grasses and perennials in four areas: the 130-acre City Park Golf Course, the Park Hill Golf Course, a 1.2-mile greenway along 39th Avenue, and a landscaped “outfall” through a 5-acre Globeville Landing park near the South Platte River (elevation 5,274 feet) west of the Denver Coliseum.

    City engineers say that, by reconstructing the urban landscape where possible, they’ll slow down water, filter it through vegetation to remove contaminants, control storm runoff and nourish greenery to help residents endure the climate shift toward droughts and rising temperatures…

    While a lack of open land and neighborhood resistance can limit daylighting of long-squelched creeks and canals, increasing volumes of storm runoff — the result of the paving of more and more of the city — require action.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has supported daylighting, recognizing that pipes and concrete channels typically can’t handle surges the way natural creeks and floodplains once did before development…

    Other projects in the works:

    — Re-exposing a southern branch of Montclair Creek that flows under an area extending from City Park across Colorado Boulevard and eastward along Hale Parkway.

    — A $77 million removal of concrete and widening of the Weir Gulch that runs through southwestern Denver from South Sheridan Boulevard to the South Platte River.

    — A $26 million revitalization of Harvard Gulch in south-central Denver.

    — The $249 million enhancement of the South Platte, reshaping and widening river banks between Sixth and 58th avenues, to create an ecosystem healthy enough for trout to reproduce through Denver.

    — Converting portions of the 71-mile High Line Canal irrigation system, built in 1883 and owned by Denver Water, into a greenway and refuge.

    — Other waterway projects that city officials are discussing involve naturalistic re-engineering of concrete trapezoidal channels in Montbello, flood-prone gullies in Globeville, the southwestern Sanderson Gulch, and buried channels citywide where alluvial sediment indicates creeks once flowed before settlers arrived.

    Denver innovations include installing an ultraviolet water-cleaning station at the Montclair Creek outfall to boost natural processes in zapping chemical contaminants, an expanding array from antibiotics to antidepressants, before water reaches the South Platte.

    Along Brighton Boulevard north of downtown, city crews also built 56 cement boxes, designed to hold native grasses and flowers in a replaceable soil mix that includes ground-up newspaper, to filter runoff water so that less pollution reaches the South Platte…

    Dealing with floods by trying to funnel more and more runoff into culverts and pipelines has become increasingly costly and ineffective, city officials said. A recent city study estimated that dealing with worsening storms by installing more pipelines would cost taxpayers $1.4 billion.

    But it’s unclear whether a new approach of embracing waterways will be cheaper in the long run.

    As work crews neared completion of the Montclair Creek outfall by the South Platte, project manager Riley said recreational benefits and a need for places “where water could percolate out naturally” — rather than costs — are driving this push that has unified support from city leaders.

    “You have to do what is right for the health of rivers. That’s part of the health of the city,” Riley said. “You are going to see a return to natural processes.”