Brad Wind named @NorthernWater general manager #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Brad Wind. Photo credit: Northern Water

Here’s the release from the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Jeff Stahla):

Colorado native Brad Wind has been chosen to lead Northern Water as the organization’s sixth general manager in its 81-year history.

Wind, who most recently had served as the assistant general manager, Administration Division, was formally named to the position April 6 by the Northern Water Board of Directors.

Wind joined Northern Water in 1994 as an engineer and previously served as the organization’s assistant general manager, Operations Division. Wind holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Colorado State University, a master’s degree in agricultural engineering from University of California at Davis and bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and agricultural engineering from Colorado State University.

Wind grew up in Northeastern Colorado, the area served by Northern Water. He was raised on a farm in Washington County and graduated from Brush High School.

“Brad Wind has 25 years of experience built on the Northern Water tradition of teamwork and continual improvement,” said Board President Mike Applegate.

“The Board is confident he will provide excellent leadership and vision as we move forward in service to the region,” he added.

Wind takes over for previous General Manager Eric Wilkinson, who retired in April. Wilkinson will continue to work on a part-time role as a policy adviser for Northern Water.

“I am thrilled to be named Northern Water’s next general manager, and I appreciate the legacy Eric has left us all,” Wind said.

“We have a lot on our plate and our staff is up to the challenges of maintaining a reliable water supply and pursuing additional storage for northeastern Colorado,” he added.

Windsor town board planning for future water needs

Windsor Lake/Mummy Range

From Windsor Now (Emily Wenger):

At the April 16 Windsor Town Board work session, Dennis Wagner, director of engineering for Winds or, said the town has several options as it considers how best to meet the water needs of current and future residents.

Right now, the town is reliant on other sources to treat its water, so it has to pay the city of Greeley and the Fort Collins-Loveland and North Weld County water districts.

But some town board members want to give Windsor a way to avoid those price tags, even if that doesn’t happen for many years.

The regional water treatment plant also would serve Severance, Eaton and the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District.

Eaton is also feeling the pressures of providing for future growth, said Gary Carsten, town administrator for Eaton, so being part of the regional project would help prepare the town to serve future residents.

In 2017, the partners hired Black and Veatch Engineering to study the possibility. That plant would be east of Interstate 25 and just north of Colo. 14. The challenge with that plant, Wagner said, will be finding enough water to treat to justify the cost at $25 million for Windsor’s portion.

At its April 9 meeting, the Windsor Town Board also approved a plan to continue discussions with Broe Infrastructure about another water treatment plant at Great West Industrial Park.

That plant, which the town would eventually buy, would pull about 1,300 acre-feet of water per year from the ground and treat it.

If all goes according to plan, Windsor Town Attorney Ian McCargar said construction on that water treatment plant would start in 2019 and be finished by 2021.

Windsor is hoping much of that water will come from Northern Integrated Supply Project, of which Eaton is also a part. The project, which would create two new reservoirs to supply the region, has been in the works for about 18 years, said Mayor Kristie Melendez.

Windsor gets its water rights from the Colorado Big Thompson project, which brings water across the Continental Divide from the upper Colorado River and North Poudre Irrigation Co. It’s enough for now, but town officials are concerned it won’t stretch as the town grows and everyone in northern Colorado is trying to provide enough water to serve their residents.

Buying into NISP, Windsor officials said, could ensure that water is available.

The town is expected to spend $86.6 million on the project before it’s completed, including a $2 million payment next year.

Wagner said the project cost keeps going up as the project keeps getting put off and construction costs rise.

Melendez said some partners are skeptical about NISP ever being completed, because the project is taking so long. Currently, it’s expected to be built from 2021-25, if the planning and approval process continues without any issues, but Melendez said she’s not convinced that will happen, because of continual postponements.

@NorthernWater board sets #Colorado-Big Thompson quota = 80%

Map of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project via Northern Water

Here’s the release from the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Jeff Stahla):

Strong regional water storage coupled with below-average precipitation prompted the Northern Water Board of Directors to increase its 2018 quota allocation for the Colorado-Big Thompson Project to 80 percent.

The Board unanimously approved the allocation at its meeting Thursday at Northern Water’s Berthoud headquarters.

Sarah Smith, a water resources engineer at Northern Water, said total storage in the region was above average for the fifth-straight year. While Colorado precipitation has been below average this winter, recent storms boosted the snowpack in the northern portion of the state.

“The Poudre basin did benefit quite a bit from those storms,” she said.

Water Resources Manager Andy Pineda recommended the 80 percent quota to the Board based on the existing snowpack totals, runoff projections, regional water storage and input from water users.

The 80 percent quota increases available C-BT Project water supplies by 93,000 acre-feet from the initial 50 percent quota made available in November.

Water from the C-BT Project supplements other sources for 33 cities and towns, 120 agricultural irrigation companies, various industries and other water users within Northern Water’s 1.6 million-acre service area. According to recent Census figures, 960,000 residents now live inside Northern Water’s boundaries.

To learn more about Northern Water and the C-BT quota, visit http://www.northernwater.org.

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

While much of the state is facing drastic water shortages, shareholders in the Colorado Big Thompson project will see better than average return on their investment this year, according to a Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District news release…

The quota this year is 80 percent, up from the average of 70 percent, a jump that represents 93,000 extra acre feet for the year.

Greeley is one of 33 cities that uses Colorado Big Thompson water, and Greeley Water and Sewer Board Chairman Harold Evans said the quota looks good for Greeley…

Northern Water got a bump thanks to a fifth-straight year of above-average reservoir storage, as well as recent storms that have boosted snowpack in the state’s northern regions. Reservoir storage this year is 25 percent higher than normal, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service snowpack report released this past week.

Colorado Big Thompson water is used by 33 cities and towns, as well as 120 agricultural irrigation companies, various industries and other water users, according to the release. Nearly one million residents live within Northern Water’s service area.

The announcement will help farmers and municipalities plan water use for the year. About 70 percent of the contracts for Colorado Big Thompson water are owned by municipalities, but the usage is about 50 percent for farmers versus municipalities, as farmers often lease some water from municipalities, including Greeley.

Burt Knight, Greeley’s Water and Sewer director, said the higher quota will allow Greeley to lease some water to some of its agriculture partners.

The Greeley Water and Sewer Board will meet next week for its annual declaration regarding the snowpack and how it impacts Greeley.

Projects underway to bridge #Colorado’s water supply gap

From Water Deeply (Matt Weiser):

At least seven major new reservoirs and water diversion projects are being planned in Colorado, which had a population of 5.6 million in 2017. Many would continue the controversial practice of diverting water across the Rocky Mountains from the state’s Western Slope, where the majority of Colorado’s precipitation falls, to its more arid Front Range, where people are flocking to Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Longmont and increasingly sprawling suburbs.

The water projects have been inspired partly by the Colorado Water Plan, an effort by Governor John Hickenlooper to solve a projected water deficit of 560,000 acre-feet by 2050, or enough to serve more than 1 million households. The plan calls for 400,000 acre-feet of new water storage and an equal amount of water conservation.

The plan is only two years old. But critics say it has prioritized gray infrastructure – new dams, pipelines and pumps – over green projects like water conservation and sustainable land use…

The state water plan does not recommend any specific water development projects. But Hickenlooper has personally endorsed several of them. He also appointed all the voting members of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the entity that oversees the Water Plan and awards grants for water projects.

Greg Johnson, chief of water supply planning at the Water Conservation Board, said the state’s plan emphasizes conservation just as much as new water supply projects. But he said the latter may be more more pressing in some cases.

“Some of the bigger projects that are in permitting right now are helping meet really critical supply needs that a lot of those faster-growing northern Front Range suburbs have, where they’ve got new developments going up all over the place,” Johnson said. “They have maybe a 10- or 15-year horizon to get some of those things done.”

One of the water developments endorsed by the governor won a $90 million loan in 2017 from the Water Conservation Board – the largest loan in the board’s history. Known as the Windy Gap Firming Project, it proposes a new reservoir called the Chimney Hollow Reservoir near Longmont to store Colorado River water diverted through an existing tunnel under the Continental Divide.

The loan covers nearly one-fourth of total costs for the project, which is proposed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

As its name implies, the project is intended to “firm up” existing Colorado River water rights held by a dozen Front Range cities. The cities already draw on these water rights, but can’t fully tap them in some years because of storage limitations. The new 90,000 acre-foot reservoir will solve this problem and allow them to divert the river almost every year.

The project would result in diverting 30,000 acre-feet more water out of the Colorado River every year than is currently diverted…

Other major projects in the works include the Moffat Collection System, a plan by Denver Water to expand Gross Reservoir to hold 77,000 acre-feet of additional diversions from Colorado River headwaters streams; and the White River Storage Project, a proposal for a new reservoir of up to 90,000 acre-feet in the northwest corner of the state, near the town of Rangely…

Greg Silkensen, a spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, said the Windy Gap project is vital to many fast-growing Front Range communities that have lower-priority water rights.

“The Colorado economy is just crazy. Everybody and their brother is moving here,” Silkensen said. “There is a great deal of environmental mitigation that will go forward if the project is built. There’s going to be a lot of benefit to the Upper Colorado River if it does go through.”

Those projects include stream habitat restoration in the Colorado River and water quality improvements in Grand Lake, part of the existing Western Slope diversion system.

#Snowpack news: @NorthernWater to set C-BT quota on April 12th

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map March 17, 2018 via the NRCS.

From The Fence Post (Nikki Work):

As of March 14, the state sits at about 67 percent of the average snowpack, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Things are looking slightly better in northern Colorado, with the two basins that impact Weld County — the Upper Colorado and the South Platte — at 77 percent and 81 percent of the average year, respectively…

Eric Brown, spokesperson for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, said the dry weather is on Northern Water’s radar, just like it’s on farmers’, but there may be one saving grace — a healthy amount of water in reservoir storage.

Northern Water’s reservoirs are at one of their highest ever levels, with storage at 121 percent of average. Across Colorado, reservoir storage is at about 117 percent of the historic average. While Brown said the water district is optimistic that, in true Colorado fashion, there’s a big spring storm a’comin’, its prepared to use some of its reserves to combat an abnormally dry year.

“In general, farmers who have access to some sort of water in storage should be okay for 2018, as Northern Water’s C-BT Project and reservoirs across the South Platte Basin are sitting at solid levels for the most part,” Brown said. “But for the farmers who don’t have access to water that’s in storage, they really need snow and/or spring rains in the near future.”

But for everyone, use of the water in storage this year creates uncertainties down the road, as some of the current surplus will be used up. Plus, a good, wet snow would bring some much-needed moisture to the plains and help with soil quality, which plays an important role in crop health.

The Northern Water Board will set its quota for C-BT deliveries for the remainder of the 2018 water delivery season at its April 12 board meeting. Both snowpack and C-BT and local non-C-BT reservoir levels will factor into this decision. The board sets a quota each year to balance how much water can be used and how much water needs to stay in storage, and the historic average for the quota is 70 percent.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project Map via Northern Water

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

Graphic credit: Northern Water

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

Crews from Northern Water work to maintain hydroelectric plant equipment

Workers from Northern Water have taken apart some of the equipment at the Robert V. Trout Hydroelectric Plant at the outlet of Carter Lake as part of the organization’s annual maintenance program for the facility.

On Feb. 8, members of the Northern Water board of directors were told that 2017 was a strong year for electricity production at the plant. Energy is captured from the outlet at Carter Lake as water is delivered into the St. Vrain Supply Canal. That electricity is marketed through the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association to customers throughout the utility’s service area on the Front Range.

The power plant, one of two hydroelectric generation plants owned by Northern Water, has been in operation since 2012 and is authorized through a Lease of Power Privilege agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. In addition to Northern’s two hydroelectric plants, Reclamation operates six additional Colorado-Big Thompson generation stations that supply renewable energy throughout the American West.

Learn more about power generation at Carter Lake

2018 #COleg: LSPWCD supports Reservoir Release Bill

North Sterling Reservoir

From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jeff Rice):

The Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District’s Executive Committee voted Tuesday to support the Reservoir Release Bill that should be taken up by the General Assembly later this month.

The committee reviewed a draft of the bill at its Tuesday meeting and made clear that it supports the draft as it now exists.

The bill covers only the Northern Integrated Supply Project now, but might affect any future water project and possibly projects that include expansion of existing reservoirs. It requires Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District to maintain a prescribed stream flow in the Cache la Poudre River as it passes through Fort Collins, or about 12 miles of river channel. That water flow would be regulated by releases of water from Glade Reservoir.

The proposed legislation converts into law a plan Northern Water presented last year, and that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission signed off on last September, that mitigates NISP’s impact on recreational use of the river through Fort Collins

The key to getting groups like Lower South Platte to support it is a section called “Costs of Bypass Structures.” In order for river flow to be maintained from the water release point at Glade Reservoir to the end of the project, it will have to flow past several irrigation diversion structures. Because a constant stream flow must be maintained, some or all of those structures will have to be modified because they now completely block the river and dry up the river at several places. Ordinarily, that’s allowable as long as sufficient water is returned to the river somewhere downstream.

But under the terms of the Reservoir Release Bill, the prescribed stream flow has to stay in the river, which means diversion structures will have to be rebuilt or modified to allow water to go around them.

The Costs of Bypass Structures clause puts the cost burden of those modifications on the reservoir owner, who is the party responsible for maintaining prescribed stream flow; in this case, that’s Northern Water.

Lower South Platte’s manager, Joe Frank, told the executive committee Tuesday he thought the district should publicly support the draft legislation, partly to avoid any misunderstanding.

“Last year we took a neutral stance on (a previous version) and someone took that to mean we didn’t care about it,” Frank said. “We do care, we care deeply, and we support it. What we meant was that we didn’t oppose the plan, but someone took it to mean we didn’t support it, either.”

During discussion of the legislation Bruce Phillips, the state’s water commissioner for District 64 which includes the lower South Platte, said he thought stream maintenance provisions would be required in all storage projects…

Ken Fritzler, the district’s board chairman, asked whether other committee members thought the draft legislation is something the board could publicly support. Gene Manuello answered that he thought it was.

“I think we should support the draft as it is now,” he said. “We have supported NISP all along, and I think a majority of WRASP supports it.”

WRASP stands for Water Rights Appropriators of the South Platte; it is a consortium that represents more than 240,000 irrigated acres from Barr Lake to Julesburg, and more than 1,150 high capacity irrigation wells that draw from the South Platte alluvial aquifer.