Pagosa Springs: #Geothermal Resource Workshop set for May 23, 2018

Photo credit: Colorado.com

From the Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership (Sally High) via The Pagosa Sun:

Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership (GGP) welcomes Colorado School of Mines (CSM) and Colorado Geologic Survey back to Pagosa Springs this week.

CSM’s seventh Geophysics Field Camp builds on previous years’ research into Archuleta County’s geothermal plumbing.

The GGP invites the public to a scientific retrospective of collected data and updated interpretations of the local geothermal resource on
Wednesday, May 23. The workshop is at the Archuleta County CSU Extension building from 6 to 8 p.m. The GGP workshop contains two presentations.

Dr. Andrei Swidinsky and Stephen Cuttler of CSM will present a seven-year retrospective of the geophysical data collected by CSM students. Each year’s field camp adds to our understanding of the underground structure of our geothermal aquifer.

Dr. Paul Morgan is senior geo- thermal geologist at Colorado Geological Survey. In 2017, Morgan published Origins and Geothermal Potential of Thermal Springs in Archuleta County, including Pagosa Springs, Colorado, USA (Revisited). The paper was first presented at the international Geothermal Resource Council’s 2017 conference. The Archuleta County public can hear Morgan’s revised interpretations at the GGP workshop.
The GGP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit operating an educational park in downtown Pagosa Springs. The nonprofit park demonstrates geothermal direct energy use, year-round horticulture and environmental awareness. Twenty-first century water conservation and geothermal potential are priorities of GGP’s mission.

GGP’s Education Dome is busy with student and volunteer activity, and the Community Garden Dome and Innovation Dome are being constructed. Pagosa Springs Centennial Park’s Riverwalk is the site of the GGP project.

There is no charge for the GGP’s geothermal resource update work- shop, although donations to the nonprofit are accepted. The public is welcome.

Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District shows #drought management plan at public hearing

West Drought Monitor May 8, 2018.

From The Pagosa Sun (Chris Mannara):

The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) board held a public hearing on [May 1, 2018] evening to discuss the 2018 Drought Management Plan and to take public comment.

PAWSD District Manager Justin Ramsey began the presentation by briefly discuss- ing the precipitation levels for the district.

“We’re just a little bit more than 50 per- cent of what we usually get,” Ramsey said. In regard to snow-water equivalency,
Ramsey noted that, for 2018, “we’re out.”

[…]

Triggers and levels of plan

“The triggers are basically going to be a combination of the amount of water in the reservoirs plus the amount of water we have pulled in from the river,” Ramsey explained. “It’s going to be a ratio between that and what our expected water use for the year is going to be.”

PAWSD is going to base these triggers off of what the district used in 2017, Ramsey noted.

When 90 percent of that use is met, that is what will trigger level one of the drought management plan, Ramsey stated.

Level two is triggered by 70 percent use, 50 percent would trigger level three, 40 percent triggers level four and 30 percent use will trigger level five, Ramsey described.

Pagosa Springs: Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership scores dough for two geothermal greenhouses

Graphic via Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership.

From the Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership via the The Pagosa Daily Post (Sally High):

The Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership (GGP) will begin construction of two more growing dome greenhouses — the Community Garden Dome and the Innovation Dome — in spring 2018. These two domes will be installed next to the existing Education Dome in Pagosa Springs’ Centennial Park on a parcel leased from the Town of Pagosa Springs.

The Colorado Water Plan (CWP) Engagement and Innovation Fund granted Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership $174,500 for the construction of the nonprofit organization’s second and third growing domes. The Colorado Water Conservation Board approved the CWP grant earlier in November. These funds, coupled with a $34,000 matching grant from Colorado Garden Foundation awarded last February, allow the GGP to fulfill its agreement to build three geothermal greenhouses.

Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership is a volunteer-driven 501c3 educational organization, building a Pagosa-scale botanic park within Centennial Park on the San Juan River Walk. Its mission is “to educate the community in sustainable agricultural practices by producing food year-round using local renewable energy.” Demonstrating the value of Pagosa’s geothermal resource remains an organizational priority.

The October 2017 Smart Growth America Report listed the GGP as an important amenity for the community. Both the Archuleta County Community Economic Development Action Plan and Downtown Colorado Inc. identified the GGP as a priority for downtown economic revitalization. With the Education Dome completed in 2016, the GGP began fulfilling its mission in 2017.

In GGP’s first year of operations, the Education Dome and Amphitheater became busy gathering places. GGP hosted its 5th Colorado Environmental Film Festival Caravan in downtown Pagosa. Five Lifelong Learning Workshops explored various environmental issues and celebrated the biodiversity of the San Juan River Walk. Two well-attended special events included the first San Juan Sounds live concert and the 2nd Colorfest Breakfast with Balloons. Pagosa’s youth began horticultural activities and GGP’s volunteers nurtured an abundant garden for the community.

2018 promises more classes, educational workshops and special events in Centennial Park. Children from 4-H, public and charter school classrooms, and home schools are already learning each week in the Education Dome. The 6th Environmental Film Festival is planned for mid-April. Lifelong Learning Workshops will include in-depth education about the wise use of Colorado’s water. Live music and performance are planned for the GGP Amphitheater, as well as the 3rd Colorfest Breakfast with Balloons.

The Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership operates through a professional Board of Directors, numerous volunteers, five strategic committees and an enthusiastic membership base. GGP committees include (1) Soil, Seeds and Water; (2) Site; (3) Fundraising and Special Events; (4) Landscaping; and (5) Programming. An informational question and answer session for the community is planned for January 2018.

Learn more at the GGP website at pagosagreen.org.

Sally High is the Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership Board President.

Pagosa Springs: 11th annual Water 101 and 201 Seminar, October 5, 2017

Photo credit: Colorado.com

From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Elaine Chick):

Tens of millions of people, billions of dollars of agricultural production and an enormous amount of economic activity across a vast swath of America from California to the Mississippi River are all dependent on rivers born in the mountains of Colorado.

In a time of mounting demand and limited supply, the need for all citizens to better understand and participate in decisions affecting this critical resource is paramount. Colorado’s population is expected to double by 2050, with a good portion of that occurring on the Western Slope. Where will all that water come from?

To discuss this, as well as a multitude of other issues, Pagosa Springs will once again be the location for the educational 11th annual Water 101 and 201 seminars.

Sponsored by the Water Information Program, the seminars will take place on Oct. 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Oct. 6 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Ross Ara- gon Community Center (451 Hot Springs Blvd.).

The seminar qualifies for 11 continuing education credits (CECs) for Realtors and six CECs for lawyers for completion of both days. The seminars are open to the general public as well.

Topics include water law, an explanation of water-related agencies and organizations, the Colorado Water Plan and implementation, as well as discussion about timely and important water topics and issues. The 201 session will provide more in-depth information on water law to include compacts and the water court process.

David Robbins and J.C. Ulrich (Greg Hobbs) at the 2013 Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention

The seminar features a lineup of quali ed speakers, including the keynote, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs (retired), as well as representatives from fed- eral, state and local agencies.

Space is limited, so register early. The early-bird registration fee is $40 before Sept. 22 for the 101 workshop, $30 for the 201 session before Sept. 22, and $60 for both days. For those seeking CECs, add $10 to each of the preceding. The registration fee includes snack and an information packet both days, as well as lunch on Oct. 5.

For more information or to register, go to: https://swwcd.org/ event/water-101-201-seminar, contact the Water Information Program at 247-1302 or visit http://www.waterinfo.org.

Delph Carpenter’s 1922 Colorado River Basin map with Lake Mead and Lake Powell via Greg Hobbs.

Two million bucks for Dry Gulch Reservoir property acquisition

Credit The Pagosa Daily Post.

From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Randi Pierce):

The San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) board discussed several aspects of its proposed Dry Gulch raw water storage project during its regular meeting Monday night, including loan nancing, a mill levy increase, contracts and new names for the project.

Among the decisions made at the meeting was approving a resolution allowing the district to apply for a $2 million loan to help acquire property needed for the project, as well as for preconstruc- tion expenses.

That loan, however, would be contingent upon the SJWCD successfully raising its mill levy to one mill during an upcoming election.

In introducing the topic to the board, chair Rod Profitt explained that he had already submitted the loan application to the Colo- rado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), but that the resolution would “essentially” formalize that application.

Profitt noted he would be appearing before the CWCB during that board’s meeting in May (to be held in Pagosa Springs) to see if the loan is approved, at which point the SJWCD would have to work on the mill levy increase being approved…

The resolution further states, “the costs to acquire the rest of the land needed for the reservoir basin and pre-construction expenses are expected to be $2,000,000.”

The 40-year loan, Proffitt explained during discussion, comes with a 2.75 percent interest rate, which mean debt-service pay- ments of about $96,129 per year.

One mill, he said in response to a question by board member Al Pfsiter, would raise about $213,000 per year, meaning the district would also have funding for other projects such as the stream management program…

The resolution passed 5-0, with board member Ray Finney absent from the meeting.

PAWSD refinancing saves district money; draft budget discussed — The Pagosa Sun

Pagosa Hot Springs
Pagosa Hot Springs

From The Pagosa Sun (Casey Crow):

Last month, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) refinanced its 2006 enterprise revenue and improvement bonds through the issuance of series 2015 enterprise revenue refunding bonds. The refinancing is slated to save the district $528,000 in interest payments over the next nine years.

According to Assistant Manager Shellie Peterson, PAWSD took advantage of interest rates that have dipped to historic lows to refinance the bonds, which total $5.26 million. With the refinancing, PAWSD will be paying an average true interest cost of just under 1.94 percent.

In addition to the savings over the next nine years due to the refinancing, PAWSD will also shorten its outstanding debt service payments by two years.

According to Peterson, the savings from the refinancing are realized directly by the district’s ratepayers.

Draft budget

PAWSD is currently working to finalize its 2016 budget. The district began budget talks in October, holding a public hearing on Oct. 15.

The draft budget was published online prior to the hearing. Some changes were made during budget talks in October, and changes will continue to be made until the budget is adopted in December.

The calculations are made based on the anticipated 2015 revenues and expenditures as compared to the projected 2016 revenues and expenditures.

Water Diversions, Part One — Pagosa Daily Post #COwaterplan

San Juan River from Wolf Creek Pass
San Juan River from Wolf Creek Pass

From the Pagosa Daily Post (Bill Hudson):

We’re lucky here in Colorado. When we grow weary of ordinary, everyday political controversies — federal immigration policy, perhaps, or governments collecting personal data on private citizens, or another federally mandated standardized test foisted on our children, or more locally, streets and roads slowly crumbling into asphalt dust — we always have one big controversy that can serve as a welcome diversion:

Water.

I attended a couple of diversionary discussions last month in Pagosa Springs, on the subject of Colorado water. The first discussion took place on November 17 at the Ross Aragon Community Center, in the South Conference Room, and was hosted by the Southwest Basin Roundtable.

The second meeting — related in a somewhat diversionary way — involved the elected board members of the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) and resulted, after considerable discussion, in a closed-door executive session. More about that later… we’ll start with a summary of the Roundtable meeting .. which, interestingly enough, was attended by not a single member of the PAWSD board…

The November 17 meeting was sparsely attended — about 24 people, mostly members of various water boards or commissions — even though the subject matter may ultimately prove relatively momentous: namely, the impending Colorado Water Plan, and more specifically the portion of that plan known as the Southwest Basin Implementation Plan. We started the meeting by going around the room and introducing ourselves. I was struck by a comment from one of the non-governmental attendees.

“I’m Donna Formwalt, Pagosa Springs. We’re ranchers here. And I’m very interested in the water takeover by the Forest Service.”

The Colorado Water Plan is an initiative of Governor Hickenlooper’s office, begun as the result of an executive order issued in May 2013. A press release posted on the Governor’s website states:

Gov. John Hickenlooper today directed the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to begin work on a draft Colorado Water Plan that will support agriculture in rural Colorado and align state policy to the state’s water values.

“Colorado deserves a plan for its water future use that aligns the state’s many and varied water efforts and streamlines the regulatory processes,” Hickenlooper said. “We started this effort more than two years ago and are pleased to see another major step forward. We look forward to continuing to tap Colorado’s collaborative and innovative spirit to address our water challenges.”

But as Ms. Formwalt hinted with her comment about the Forest Service, Colorado’s innovative and collaborative spirit will be challenged, in the coming months and years, by officials serving non-Colorado governments. The U.S. Forest Service, for one. And the governments of the “Lower Basin States” for another.

Are we preparing well enough for that conflict?

From the Colorado Water Plan website:

Colorado’s Water Plan will provide a path forward for providing Coloradans with the water we need while supporting healthy watersheds and the environment, robust recreation and tourism economies, vibrant and sustainable cities, and viable and productive agriculture.

Of course, no one — not even Governor Hickenlooper — can actually “provide Coloradans with the water we need.” Only Mother Nature can actually provide water, last I looked. But what the Governor and the Colorado Water Conservation Board mean to provide is a generally accepted plan for portioning out the limited water Mother Nature provides, in a state where supposedly conflicting interests want to preserve the status quo. History has taught us, you can preserve the status quo for only so long — and then people start fighting.

In the case of an ever-more-precious resource like water, the key battles might be between Rural Colorado and Urban Colorado, or they might be between this state where so many American rivers find their source — Colorado — and the several states where those rivers end up in water taps, a thousand miles away.

The Colorado Water Plan is, I assume, an attempt to keep both types of battles from getting too nasty.

The Southwest Basin — a geographic area defined by the Colorado Water Conservation Board — is located in the southwest corner of Colorado and covers an area of approximately 10,169 square miles. The largest cities are Durango (pop. 15,213) and Cortez (pop. 8,328). The region also includes three ski areas: Telluride, Wolf Creek, and Durango Mountain Resort.

A good deal of water flows through the Southwest Basin, and a good number of people want to get their hands on a share of it — including the people who will likely move into the region over the next 30 years or so. The Southwest Basin is projected to increase in municipal and industrial (M&I) water demand between 17,000 acre feet (AF) and 27,000 AF by 2050, according to Roundtable projections.

From the Roundtable web page:

Southwest Basin’s Major Projects and Programs
Dry Gulch Reservoir
Animas-La Plata Project
Long Hollow Reservoir
La Plata Archuleta Water District

It’s confounding, how that Dry Gulch Reservoir keeps showing up… like a bad penny.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here. More Dry Gulch Reservoir coverage here.