@FortCollinsGov NISP meeting recap

Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) map July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.
Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) map July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

City staff members have proposed beginning in-depth discussions with Northern Water to explore areas of “mutual interest” and possibly negotiate an agreement. City Council would have to approve any agreement, if one were reached.

Discussions with Northern Water, if approved by council, would be lengthy and touch on “endlessly complicated” details, said John Stokes, director of the city’s Natural Areas Department.

Fort Collins is not among the 15 municipalities and water districts participating in NISP, though as a stakeholder it has been involved with the project’s permitting process for many years.

In 2008 and 2015, the city submitted comments critical of the project to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the Environmental Impact Statement process for NISP.

The Corps and other state and federal agencies will be involved in determining mitigation measures for NISP, which would reduce flows on the Poudre through the city 20 percent a year on average and 30 percent during peak flows in spring.

Experience tells the city it cannot rely on other entities to look out for the best interests of Fort Collins in assessing the negative impacts of NISP through town, Stokes said during a recent city-sponsored open house.

“They are not likely, in our view, to require mitigation at a level that we think would be important to the city if we didn’t negotiate,” Stokes said…

The final Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, for the project is expected to be released by the Corps later this year. A record of decision on whether the project may be permitted is expected in 2018.

If the project is permitted, construction could begin in 2025, city officials say.

Discussions and negotiations between the city and Northern Water would be outside of the permitting process, said John Urbanic, project manager with the Corps of Engineers…

Mitigation of environmental impacts are part of the permitting process. It’s possible a mitigation agreement between the city and Northern Water could be included in the permit, Urbanic stated in an email to the Coloradoan.

Whether an agreement would facilitate a permit being issued “depends on what’s in the agreement,” he said.

Fort Collins’ focus regarding NISP is on the area crossed by the river between the mouth of the Poudre Canyon and Interstate 25. The city owns several natural areas along the river corridor.

Stokes said the city has many concerns about the impacts of lowering baseline and peak flows on the Poudre, including:

  • Reduced water quality and additional stresses on city water treatment facilities
  • Reductions in the health of the river’s ecology and biological resources
  • Reductions in the river’s ability to convey flood water
  • Diminished recreation and aesthetics
  • Specifics of what city staff would seek from Northern Water through negotiations and what it might have to do in return have not been determined, Stokes said.

    About 200 people attended a city-sponsored open house on the issue Monday at the Lincoln Center. Longstanding opponents and proponents of NISP were on hand, stating familiar positions.

    Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District board meeting recap

    Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) map July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.
    Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) map July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.

    From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jeff Rice):

    The Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District’s board of directors decided Tuesday to not object to a plan to move the proposed Galeton Reservoir from its original site.

    Galeton is part of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s controversial Northern Integrated Supply Project, which would use water from the Cache la Poudre and South Platte rivers to irrigate, provide domestic water, and bolster the Poudre through Fort Collins.

    Northern Water originally planned to build the reservoir on the southeast side of Colorado Highway 14 near Galeton, but in the 10 years since the project was proposed Nobel Energy has drilled almost two dozen oil and gas wells in the area. Those wells would have to be capped, at tremendous cost to Northern, in order to use the site for a reservoir.

    Northern has applied to have the water rights instead transferred to land on the northwest side of the highway.

    LSP board member Brad Stromberger, who also is on the Northern board of directors, said the Berthoud-based water district is “in the design stages” on the project already and plans to begin construction on the reservoir within about five years.

    “This is a big project,” he said. “This is a new water source we need.”

    The LSP’s water lawyer, Kim Lawrence, had recommended that the district file an objection to Northern’s request. Such objections are commonplace primarily to get access to crucial engineering and financial information about water projects. LSPWCD has previously gone on the record as being entirely in support of NISP, and during Tuesday’s meeting the district’s manager, Joe Frank, cautioned that objecting to the change in the Galeton application could be used by NISP opponents to claim that the lower South Platte doesn’t support NISP.

    “We could, potentially, see about 10,000 acre feet of return flow per year from this project,” Frank told the board. “There might be a day here and there when they would take water that might have come down (the South Platte River) but the return flows will more than make up for that.”

    After a brief conference call with Lawrence, the board decided to not take any action on the Galeton Reservoir…

    The board did, however, vote to file an objection to an application by the Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority to pipe 1,500 acre feet of water from the South Platte River into the off-channel Binder Reservoir, also known as the Brighton Lateral Reservoir. ACWWA wants to use the water to exchange with other water entities along the river. Lawrence’s recommendation to the LSP was to file an objection because the proposed project “affects many (irrigation) ditches in this reach.”

    #Colorado’s dam safety examined

    Horsetooth Reservoir
    Horsetooth Reservoir

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

    The good news: All of Larimer County’s biggest dams, including the dams at Horsetooth Reservoir, have emergency action plans designed to prepare authorities for emergencies like what happened in California this weekend.

    And the bad: A small percentage of Colorado’s higher-hazard dams don’t have emergency plans. Failure could put human lives, environment and property at risk.

    It’s a problem highlighted nationwide this week after the Oroville Dam, located about 75 miles north of Sacramento, suffered a potential failure of its emergency spillway. While the dam itself remained intact, erosion damage to the spillway raised the possibility of the structure failing and unleashing an uncontrolled torrent of water.

    This situation is unlikely to occur at any of the Horsetooth Reservoir dams, according to officials from the Bureau of Reclamation and Northern Water. That’s partially because the structures underwent an $85 million renovation in the early 2000s. The modernization project included stripping the dams’ faces and adding a roughly 16-foot-thick filter of sand and gravel. Each of the dams was also bolstered for extra strength.

    The lower risk here is also a question of magnitude, said Northern Water spokesman Brian Werner, who noted that the amount of water released through the Oroville Dam in 24 hours is more than Horsetooth Reservoir could hold at full capacity.

    Perhaps most importantly, Horsetooth Reservoir’s relationship to its dams and water sources is different from Lake Oroville’s relationship with the Oroville Dam and the Feather River, which the dam impounds to form the lake. No river runs into Horsetooth Reservoir; gravity transports water there from other reservoirs in the Colorado-Big Thompson Project.

    The Bureau of Reclamation in June 2016 finished a comprehensive review of Horsetooth Reservoir’s dams, which include the Horsetooth, Dixon Canyon, Soldier Canyon and Spring Canyon dams. All passed inspection.

    Larimer County is home to 136 of Colorado’s 1,737 dams, according to 2013 data from the National Inventory of Dams. Twelve of those dams are very large…

    Each of Larimer County’s high-volume dams received a satisfactory inspection rating at its most recent inspection, and none is used for flood control. All have emergency action plans, which include critical information like emergency contacts, details about the dam and an inundation map that shows where flooding will occur at different water levels…

    Of Colorado’s 1,737 dams, about 25 percent, or 425, are considered “high hazard,” meaning one or more people are likely to die if the dam fails. About 96 percent of those dams have emergency action plans, significantly higher than the national rate of 69 percent.

    An additional 19 percent of Colorado dams are considered a “significant hazard,” which means their failure would result in possible loss of human life and likely significant property or environmental destruction. About 92 percent of those dams have emergency action plans.

    Inspection of Colorado dams falls to two agencies. The state’s dam safety division evaluates dams owned locally or by private and state agencies, and the Bureau of Reclamation monitors federally owned dams.

    North Sterling irrigators favor lease to BNN Energy


    From The South Platte Sentinel (Jeff Rice):

    Roughly half of the landowners attended a meeting Thursday afternoon to get the latest information and when they were finished NSID Executive Director Jim Yahn said they’d signed up enough acreage to make the project a reality.

    “We have enough; it’ll be a go,” Yahn said.

    The project would lease up to 6,800 acre feet of water to BNN Energy, a subsidiary of Tallgrass Energy. BNN supplies water to Tallgrass’ oil and gas development operations in Weld County. The plan calls for BNN to hook a pipeline directly to one of North Sterling Reservoir’s outlet pipes and pump the water more than 30 miles west into the Tallgrass drilling field.

    “It’s a historic thing, I’ve never heard of anyone pumping water directly out of a reservoir,” Yahn said after the meeting.

    Estimates given to the landowners Thursday indicate that BNN could pay up to $1,551 an acre foot for the water. While that comes out to over $10 million a year to be distributed among landowners, Yahn said it’s doubtful BNN would ever use that much. More probable estimates were between 5,000 and 6,000 acre feet per year, and final numbers could change slightly before an agreement is signed. Yahn said Thursday he expects that could happen by early March.

    “These were some big numbers we put up there, but we wanted (the landowners) to have an idea of how much water they’re giving up,” Yahn said after the meeting. “Some of them could be giving up 10 to 20 percent of their water.”

    He emphasized, however, that the “giving up” isn’t permanent. It is only a 10-year lease, and the water needed for BNN does drop after the first five years.

    The advantage of the lease agreement being spread over so many landowners, Yahn said, is that farmers can still farm, but will have to manage their irrigation differently.

    “We don’t have to dry up any acres,” he said. “Farmers can manage the acres they have, maybe decide to not irrigate their hay for a third cutting, or not to plant some of the least productive land.”

    The agreement would be similar to one the irrigation district made with Xcel Energy to provide 3,000 acre feet of water to the Pawnee Power Station as a backup to the company’s regular water right.. He said the district had a change decree done on their water rights in 2006 so 15,000 acre feet of the district’s water could be used for things other than irrigation. He said Xcel has never called for water.

    The North Sterling has plenty of water to lease, with two storage decrees, a 1908 storage decree for 69,446 acre feet and a 1915 decree for an additional 11,956 acre feet. Those two together equal 6,812 acre feet more than the reservoir can hold. What that means is that the district can drain that much from the full reservoir and fill it again, even if there are calls on the river, and as long as the North Sterling’s decrees are in priority.

    In addition, the district has a 1914 direct flow decree for 460 cubic feet per second, which means that it can run water into its inlet ditch, through the reservoir, and out into the discharge ditch. The lease with BNN would be from the storage decrees only, not from the direct flow decree.

    @Northern_Water will revisit boat inspection dough at March 2 meeting

    From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

    The board discussed the issue at its Thursday board meeting and will revisit contributing to the $300,000 program at its March 2 meeting.

    The inspections are to prevent invasive mussels from getting into the water via boats. If these mussels get into the water, which is used for drinking and agriculture through the region, they can affect aquatic life as well as the infrastructure that stores and moves the water.

    Previously, Colorado Parks and Wildlife paid for all the inspections statewide at a cost of $4.5 million, but the agency lost its funding this summer due to a Colorado Supreme Court decision that changed the face of oil and gas severance taxes.

    The parks agency is working on legislation for new fees to cover the program as soon as 2018, but the funding for this summer is up in the air.

    Stakeholders proposed a three-way split of the total $300,000 cost at the two reservoirs. Larimer County agreed to pay one third from its parks fees, Colorado Parks and Wildlife agreed to pay one third from its reduced budget, and officials with both agencies had hoped Northern Water would kick in the final piece.

    After its meeting Thursday, the board released the following statement: “The Northern Water board was briefed … regarding the funding challenges for ongoing boat inspections on the reservoirs associated with the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. Following significant discussion, the board directed staff to continue discussions with the various aquatic nuisance species (ANS) stakeholders. It is likely staff will provide a related resolution and a 2017 ANS funding plan to the board at its March planning and action session.”

    Map of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project via Northern Water
    Map of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project via Northern Water

    @OmahaUSACE: Flood risk management open house meeting scheduled in Longmont, Colorado

    St. Vrain Greenway Trail washout September2013 via Longmont Times-Call
    St. Vrain Greenway Trail washout September2013 via Longmont Times-Call

    Here’s the release from the USACE Omaha office (Jeff Bohlken):

    An open house to share details about a flood risk management study between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District and the City of Longmont will be held from 4:30-6:30 pm (MST) Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Longmont Museum, 400 Quail Road in Longmont, Colorado.

    The flood risk management study will build on Resilient St. Vrain, Longmont’s extensive, multi-year undertaking to fully restore the St. Vrain Greenway and improve the St. Vrain Creek channel to mitigate future flood risk to the community. The Resilient St. Vrain project was created in response to the catastrophic flooding that damaged much of Longmont in September 2013.

    The open house, which will also serve as a public scoping meeting per the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), will give residents and others interested in the project a chance to learn why the study is important, learn what will be done during the study process, learn about the possible benefits, and provide specific concerns and input.

    Through the study, the Omaha District will analyze conditions within a portion of the St. Vrain Creek’s city reach. The study area consists of the St. Vrain Creek and surrounding area between Golden Ponds Park (at the upstream confluence of the St. Vrain Creek and Lykins Gulch) to the BNSF railroad bridge (near the pedestrian bridge that connects Price Road). The study will evaluate the engineering feasibility, economic benefits, and environmental considerations for potential flood risk management improvements within the study area.

    If a qualifying segment is identified within the study area, the Omaha District could ultimately partner with the City to complete a construction project as part of the Section 205 program of the Flood Control Act of 1948.
    For more information, contact Jeff Bohlken with the Omaha District at (402) 995-2671 or Longmont Floodplain Administrator Monica Bortolini at (303) 651-8328.

    Park County to install additional monitoring well at old landfill

    Graphic via GeologicResourcs.com
    Graphic via GeologicResourcs.com

    From the Fairplay Flume (Lynda James):

    The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment required additional monitoring activities after 1,4 dioxane was found in a monitoring well…

    According to County Administration Officer Tom Eisenman, CDPHE is requiring one more groundwater monitoring well in addition to the four currently on site.

    A revised monitoring plan is due to CDPHE by the end of March.

    Neighboring residents were notified last December by BLM that dioxane was found in one monitoring well.

    The BLM stated in a memo to the county that CDPHE said the level found at the landfill was too low to cause health problems.

    Eisenman said the surrounding groundwater wells on 12 private properties were tested.

    One tested positive for dioxane, so a second sample was pulled as well as on an adjacent property’s well. Those results haven’t been received.

    Eisenman said the county is providing water to the residents whose well was positive and currently working on a cost analysis of various options to provide a permanent solution for these residents’ well, at the county’s cost.
    Landfill history

    According to BLM, the landfill was operated from 1967 to Oct. 1993.

    According to CDPHE, the closure plan met state requirements at the time it was approved. Since then state regulations have changed.

    Waste was deposited into unlined trenches that were about 20 feet deep and regularly burned, according to Doty and Associates, the county’s consultant for the landfill post-closure requirements.

    Located in Golden, Doty is an environmental, groundwater and waste management engineering firm.

    Eisenman told The Flume that two groundwater monitoring wells were installed in 1991, both several hundred feet from the landfill trenches. They are LF-1 and LF-2 on the adjacent map.

    The following history was taken from a 2014 Doty report.

    A compliance advisory from CDPHE in 2004, stated the county needed to report groundwater monitoring. In 2006, one sample was tested and contained several volatile organic compounds.

    Another advisory sent in 2007, stating groundwater monitoring needed to be implemented and based on the 2006 sampling, explosive gases needed to be identified.

    When the state didn’t receive a response from the county, CDPHE conducted a site visit in 2013 and sent a third memo in 2014.

    That led to digging excavation test pits both in the landfill and adjacent to it in 2015.

    Because gas measurements at the pits showed the landfill is still generating gases, the state is now requiring the installation of gas probes.

    The state also required more groundwater monitoring wells in the 2014 memo and implementation of a groundwater monitoring plan.

    Doty developed a monitoring plan and two additional wells, LF-3 and LF-4R, were installed by BLM in early 2016.

    All four wells were sampled three times in 2016, starting with the second quarter of the year and dioxane was detected in LF-2 and LF-3 in the fourth quarter, according to documentation from CDPHE.

    The Flume’s request for copies of the landfill laboratory results was denied by the county.

    Eisenman said the county is financially responsible for installing the gas probes and another groundwater monitoring well plus any remediation that is necessary.

    According to an online article by Geosyntec Consultants, a world-wide company with two Colorado offices, dioxane removal is very complex and most treatments don’t remove it.

    The article stated the process used at one site in Colorado is an advanced oxidation process.

    “It has the capability to reduce the dioxane concentration to non-detect levels under the right conditions, but this is likely not achievable for many groundwater matrices,” the article stated.

    Advanced oxidation process can include processes using ozone, hydrogen peroxide and/or ultraviolet light to break dioxin into other benign substances.

    Research is ongoing regarding the best way to remove dioxane.

    The good news

    According to the Doty report, the geology in the area indicates that the groundwater found in the monitoring wells are in moraine deposits that were left after glaciers retreated.

    These deposits have varying sizes of boulders, cobbles, gravel, sand and silt, usually without any cementing as found in other formations such as sandstone, shale or limestone.

    Water can travel through moraine deposits easily.

    The report states that the groundwater appears to be a perched aquifer underlain with a reddish clay, probably from a weathered Minturn formation which is a red siltstone.

    The clay keeps the groundwater from moving downward, confining it to the depths of the moraine deposits. In the area, the moraine deposits range from 80 to 134 feet.

    Aquifers below that may not be contaminated.

    Eisenman said the monitoring wells are about 150 feet deep and most private wells in the area use an aquifer at around 250 feet.

    The following two sections were obtained the Environmental Protection Agency and National Library of Medicine websites.

    What is dioxane?

    Dioxane is a synthetic heterocyclic organic compound. This means it is a manmade chemical that contains carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecules that are connected in a circular pattern.

    Dioxane is classified as an ether. It is a colorless liquid with a faint sweet odor. It is flammable; it mixes with and migrates quickly through groundwater.

    Dioxane can degrade in the atmosphere into other harmless substances through photosynthesis. But that takes several days.

    Health effects of a short term, high dose exposure include nausea, drowsiness, headache, and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.

    Chronic exposure can cause dermatitis and damage to the liver and kidneys. It is considered a possible carcinogen.

    The BLM press release stated that according to CDPHE, the amount found in the Park County landfill monitoring well was not high enough to cause health hazards.

    Currently, there is no EPA drinking water standard for dioxane. In 2012, EPA established a lifetime health advisory of 0.2 milligrams per liter in drinking water.

    Colorado has adopted an interim groundwater quality cleanup standard of .35 micrograms per liter…

    Dioxane uses

    Dioxane is used as a solvent in paint and varnish removers, a corrosion inhibitor in chlorinated solvents, a purifying agent in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and is a by-product in the manufacture of polyethylene terephthalate plastic.

    It is used as a wetting and dispersing agent in the textile industry.

    Traces may exist in food supplements and food containing residues from packaging adhesives or on food crops treated with certain pesticides.

    Dioxane can be an impurity in antifreeze and aircraft deicing fluids and in some consumer products, such as deodorants, shampoos and cosmetics.