Gilcrest: The town scores dough from @CWCB_DNR, DOLA, South Platte Roundtable

HB12-1278 study area via Colorado State University

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

Peterson is just happy the town is getting help, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the South Platte Basin Roundtable Groundwater Technical Committee. Some members of those organizations have come out against allowing more well pumping around Gilcrest, so it puts the town in a tricky spot.

Money from those groups has covered emergency dewatering east of U.S. 85, a dewatering study and the drilling of a dewatering well at the sewage treatment plant.

Dewatering involves pumping water out of the ground and getting it directly to the river. Workers began drilling the well at the sewage treatment plant Friday.

The plan now is to pump water out of the ground and stick it in an old, 6-inch pipeline that will take the water to the South Platte. The pipeline is probably too small, state officials agree, because it’s also used to drain stormwater and sewage effluent. So the state may provide even more money to replace the pipeline.

But the town needs more money if it’s going to address flooding in residents’ basements. A study by JVA, a civil engineering consulting firm, was released this past fall, and it showed a couple options involving adding more dewatering wells — one for $7 million and one for $11 million. Add in hundreds of thousands of dollars in operating costs for the wells each year, and Peterson said she has no idea how the town will pay for that. Gilcrest is able to salt away only $75,000-$80,000 toward capital expenditures each year.

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

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.

@DenverWater estimates $600 million in costs to treat for molybdenum if temp standard is made permanent

Climax Mine

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Chronic ingestion of molybdenum can cause diarrhea, stunted growth, infertility, low birth weights and gout

Colorado health officials on Wednesday ignored state scientists and delayed for two years a decision on a mining giant’s push to weaken statewide limits on molybdenum pollution of streams, including a creek flowing into Dillon Reservoir, Denver’s drinking water supply.

Denver Water contends that Climax Molybdenum’s campaign to jack up molybdenum pollution limits 43 times higher than at present could cost ratepayers up to $600 million for expansion of a water treatment plant. Trace amounts of molybdenum — below a health advisory level — already flow out of Denver taps.

But Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials and federal Environmental Protection Agency officials on Wednesday rescheduled a Dec. 12 molybdenum rule hearing for November 2019.

A CDPHE hearing officer said the delay will allow time for industry-financed studies to move through a peer-review process and for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to make decisions on molybdenum toxicity. A “temporary modification” that currently allows elevated molybdenum pollution from the Climax Mine was extended this year through 2018, and CDPHE officials at Wednesday’s meeting opened the possibility it could be extended again.

CDPHE scientists opposed the delay. The scientists, Denver Water and a coalition of mountain towns have opposed the push by Climax to allow more molybdenum pollution of Tenmile Creek, which flows down from the Climax Mine above Leadville into Dillon Reservoir, where water flows out through a tunnel to Denver and the upper Colorado River Basin. CDPHE water-quality scientists have determined that molybdenum pollution at the proposed new limits would kill fish and could hurt people…

Denver Water treatment plants cannot remove molybdenum, and expanding one plant to do that would cost from $480 million to $600 million, utility officials said in documents filed to the CDPHE.

Those costs ultimately would hit ratepayers, the 1.4 million people who rely on Denver Water for their domestic water supply. The molybdenum pollution from Tenmile Creek that reaches Denver facilities today is “below the human health advisory levels,” Denver Water spokeswoman Stacy Chesney said.

“We’d likely exceed the human health advisory standard if that (new limit) were to become the statewide water quality standard. … Currently, the concentrations in Tenmile Creek have not been at a high enough concentration that would result in an exceedance of the human health advisory level, so an extension of the ‘temporary modification’ for molybdenum is acceptable,” Chesney said.

A subsidiary of the $46 billion mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, Climax Molybdenum runs the Climax Mine, which was closed for 25 years and reopened in 2012. This led to elevated molybdenum pollution at levels up to 2,500 ppb, 10 times higher than the current statewide limit. The “temporary modification” granted by CDPHE water commissioners, and extended this year, allows this elevated pollution through December 2018…

EPA officials recently said a molybdenum pollution limit as high as 10,000 ppb could be sufficient. But EPA scientists previously have advised lower limits.

“Denver Water’s current position is that the molybdenum limit should be based on scientific evidence. While Climax Molybdenum Company has presented scientific studies in support of its proposed standard, the studies fail to account for the effect high molybdenum concentrations will have on individuals with a copper deficiency,” Chesney said. “Because we do not know how high molybdenum concentrations will affect people with copper deficiencies, and EPA has not modified the Human Health Advisory for molybdenum to correspond with Climax’s proposed standard, the (state water quality control) commission should decline to increase the molybdenum standard to the level proposed by Climax.”

A coalition of mountain towns also is fighting the proposed higher limits for molybdenum pollution of waterways.

“Because of scientific uncertainty regarding the effects of varying molybdenum concentrations on human health, the commission should decline to make the changes that Climax Molybdenum Company has proposed in the statewide molybdenum standards,” Frisco attorney Jennifer DiLalla said. “The town’s primary goal is ensuring that any action the commission may take with respect to molydenum standards is protective of the health of those who live and work and play in Frisco.”

Gilcrest: High groundwater levels affect residents

HB12-1278 study area via Colorado State University

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

More than three years after water began seeping into Gilcrest and surrounding residents’ basements — the result of record high groundwater levels — the problem is spreading, impacting new homes.

Joanne Maes, a former Gilcrest town trustee, is one such resident. She doesn’t have more than a dozen sump pumps installed in her basement like a resident in 2014. She has one, and she and her husband did the work themselves, spending about $1,000 on materials.

Maes first noticed the problem a month ago. After 12 hours of continuous shop vac use, the family installed a sump pump, which runs automatically as water seeps in. Every 20 minutes or so, a PVC pipe in the backyard of Maes’ 12th Street house gurgles out water.

The same is true for a number of homes in Gilcrest, and Maes led the way around the quiet Weld County town Tuesday, pointing out more PVC pipes, connected to more sump pumps, dotting the front yards of more residents. An extra green patch of grass is another tell-tale sign.

Maes and her neighbors now, as residents did in 2014, blame the fact that farmers aren’t allowed to pump groundwater to water crops. She even testified before the Colorado Water Conservation Board, along with others from the area a couple weeks ago.

Residents here have largely given up hope anything will be done. And so, the sump pumps drone on, the water gurgles out of PVC pipes and residents hope things don’t get any worse.

Fort Morgan water rates to go up 3%

Fort Morgan vintage photo from Moody’s Vintage Collectible Postcards

From Fort Morgan Times (Jenni Grubbs):

Starting in January, Fort Morgan residents can expect to pay at least $2 more per month for water, depending on their water usage.

The Fort Morgan City Council recently approved adjusting water rates for 2018 to include the 3 percent increase recommended by the latest rates study.

Water Resources/Utilities Director Brent Nation said that a residential household that currently pays $71.90 for a monthly water bill likely would have a bill next year of $73.90.

The increase was recommended to the council so as to keep the city’s water fund revenue on track for the possibility of going out to bond for construction on the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), as well as likely upcoming large capital projects at Fort Morgan Water Treatment Plant and ongoing maintenance of the city’s water delivery system, Nation and City Manager Jeff Wells explained…

He said the price of constructing NISP has not changed, but some of the projections for how it is expected to be financed for Northern Water by the 15 participants – including Fort Morgan and Morgan County Quality Water District – are changing. That meant the city needed to figure out how to “balance out” those financing expense projections with the water fund projections for revenue.

Nation said the latest water rates study included “a conservative approach” so that the city could “make sure that the fund is safely being funded for these projects” but also keep rates from having to skyrocket in the future.

For now, Nation said the 3 percent water rates increase for 2018 would “keep us moving forward towards where we’re projecting that we’re going to need over the next 10 to 15 years, depending on how NISP plays out.”

[…]

The current rate study did indicate that Fort Morgan’s water rates are on the higher end in northeast Colorado, but that had been the case since the Colorado-Big Thompson project began, Nation said.

“We pay for high quality water, and that’s what we’re getting,” he said.

But there also are other things the city’s water treatment and water delivery departments will look at doing so as to save money for rate payers, Nation told the council, not getting into specifics right now.

Wells pointed out that the city has been collecting a monthly NISP fee from rate-payers so as to start building up cash toward future bonding for that project, if or when it gets approved.

Donald Rosier is taking over at Sterling Ranch

Photo via the Colorado Independent

From Sterling Ranch via The Wheat Ridge Transcript:

A fifth-generation Coloradan has been named general manager of the Community Authority Board in Sterling Ranch, 3,400-acre mixed-use master-planned walkable community in Douglas County projected to have 12,000 residences and approximately 33,000 residents once the community is fully built out in 20 years.

Donald Rosier, who grew up in Arvada, now serves as a Jefferson County commissioner. He was elected in 2010 and again in 2014. His term ends in 2018, but Rosier will resign as commissioner to begin his general manager post in January.

Rosier graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in civil engineering, and he brings cross functional and cross industry experience to his new position.

“I am both excited and humbled to have been offered this amazing opportunity. Throughout my career, I have accomplished a track record of success in managing complex design projects, acquisitions, entitlements, land development and construction projects,” Rosier said. “Accepting the position of general manager for the Sterling Ranch Community Authority Board equates to a city manager’s position in a medium-sized town with all of the oversight that goes with it, but much more forward-facing to our residents, which is the most important asset we have.”

Rosier serves or has served on 15 boards and coalitions in a variety of capacities while a commissioner including being involved with the planning, design and ultimate completion of the Jefferson County Parkway. He is probably best known for forming and chairing the WestConnect Coalition, bringing former adversaries together for the completion of the western beltway, which has been fought over for almost 25 years.

“Don’s ability to approach issues in a manner of respect for all parties and with professionalism while listening to the concerns and creating new strategies to solving problems was a key trait we looked for in our new general manager,” said Diane Smethills, principal of Sterling Ranch and community authority board member.

In his position, Rosier will work with contractors, homebuilders, home buyers, residents and staff.

Rosier’s 25 years of private sector experience includes civil engineering design, project management, acquisition, entitlement, land development, construction and management with companies such as Metropolitan Homes, Neumann Homes, Sunrise Colony Company, Alliance Commercial Partners, Davis Partnership and Mueller Engineering.

He also oversaw the largest multi-use infill development executed on a former 2,000-acre Air Force Base in Colorado, including the design of an entirely new water system, sanitary sewer system, storm water drainage system and drainage plan.

“Don understands the hydrology of water and land planning design to execute and will execute the communities’ rainwater-harvesting plan and maximize the efficiency of the Sterling Ranch robust water system,” said Harold Smethills, managing director of Sterling Ranch and a pioneer in the way of development utilized water. “As chairman of both the Colorado Clean Water Coalition and the Chatfield Watershed Authority, he brings with him policy experience and the respect of the water community.”