CU asks city to consider different CU Boulder South flood mitigation plan — CU Boulder News

Boulder. By Gtj82 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Patriot8790., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11297782

From CU Boulder Today:

CU Boulder today asked the Boulder City Council to consider a flood mitigation option that would support both the community’s life safety needs and the university’s need to use a reasonable amount of its CU Boulder South property in the future to meet its mission to serve Colorado.

In a letter to council members (PDF), the university recommended that Boulder refrain from further investing in Variant I – 500, a flood mitigation option that would curtail the university’s future ability to develop its CU Boulder South property. Located at U.S. 36 and Table Mesa Drive, the 308-acre parcel of university-owned land is under consideration for annexation into the Boulder city limits.

CU Boulder has recommended that the city seriously consider another plan—Variant II – 500—which was previously recommended by the city’s Water Resource Advisory Board and experts hired by the city.

If the university and city reach agreement on annexation terms, CU Boulder would use the property in the future to develop limited academic buildings and housing for faculty, staff, upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students. Other planned uses include recreation fields, expanded hiking and biking trails and other value-added features for the Boulder and university communities.

In all, CU Boulder is seeking to develop just 129 acres of the site designated as public use in the most recent Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan update, while 30 acres would be used for recreation fields. The university would donate 80 acres to the city for flood mitigation, with the balance remaining undeveloped.

Arriving at a mutually acceptable flood mitigation plan for the land is key to the agreement between the university and the city after years of ongoing discussions. In order to make progress in the negotiation process, city officials in November asked CU to submit an annexation application ahead of schedule. CU complied by filing an annexation application on Feb. 4.

The next day, city officials decided to move forward with a flood mitigation plan known as Variant I – 500, the only proposed flood mitigation plan among several considered by the city that the university repeatedly has said it cannot accept.

If the city moves forward with Variant 1 – 500, the university would not be able to develop the entire 129 acres allocated for public use on its own property, said Frances Draper, CU Boulder’s vice chancellor for strategic relations and communications.

“The university is dedicated to working with the city, and local residents whose homes are in the floodplain to achieve safety,” Draper said. “At the same time, we must be good stewards of the university’s resources for the benefit of the state of Colorado, to educate students and engage in research. The university has offered significant community benefits while striking a good balance to achieve effective use of this site to serve the needs of students in the coming decades.”

Despite its objection to the city’s intent to pursue Variant I – 500, CU worked to create a path forward in its annexation application by offering three options that would make it possible for CU to work with the city’s chosen flood mitigation plan.

However, in a March 28 response, the city made it clear none of CU Boulder’s alternatives would be feasible, precipitating the university’s response for a study session and further discussions.

One of Colorado’s largest synthetically lined, raw water reservoirs celebrates its grand opening May 15, 2019

From 9News.com (Erin Roney):

The Ranch Reservoir is located near the South Platte River and Kersey, on property adjacent to Weld Adams Water Development Authority President Bob Lembke’s 70 Ranch in Weld County.

“We don’t have a water shortage problem in Colorado,” Lembke said. “There is plenty of water in Colorado. We just have to capture and store it for those times and seasons when we need it.”

[…]

“This is a big deal,” said Drew Damiano, vice president of operations for the Weld Adams Water Development Authority. “The reservoir is a critically important component of our system. It will allow us to utilize our decreed water rights to the fullest extent for agricultural, municipal and industrial purposes.”

70 Randh Reservoir: Partnering with the Platte River Water Development Authority, this facility will be used to store water for the support of 70 Ranch’s cattle and farming operations as well as provide storage for local agricultural and municipal water providers. Photo credit: 70 Ranch

The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District honored 19 metro area organizations for perfect compliance with their industrial wastewater discharge permits on May 8, 2019

Here’s the release from the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District (Kelly Merritt):

The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District (Metro District) honored 19 metro area organizations for perfect compliance with their industrial wastewater discharge permits on May 8, 2019. Water Remediation Technology, LLC, received a Platinum Award for perfect compliance for five consecutive years (2014 through 2018).

The following were recognized with Gold Awards for perfect compliance from January through December 2018:

 Acme Manufacturing Company, Inc.
 Advanced Circuits, Inc.
 Ball Metal Beverage Container Corp.
 CoorsTek, Inc.
 CW Elaborations, Inc.
 Denver Metal Finishing
 G & K Services, A Division of Cintas
 Industrialex Manufacturing Corp.
 Majestic Metals, LLC
 Packaging Corporation of America
 Pepsi Beverages Company
 RMO, Inc.
 Rocky Mountain Bottle Company, LLC
 Safeway, Inc., Denver Beverage Plant
 Swire Coca-Cola, USA
 United States Mint
 Upsher-Smith Laboratories, LLC
 Wanco, Inc.

The federal Pretreatment Regulations under the Clean Water Act require the Metro District to have an Industrial Pretreatment Program to control the discharge of industrial wastes to the sanitary sewer system. One of the ways that the Metro District controls these discharges is through issuance of industrial wastewater discharge permits.

Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation District Hite plant outfall via South Platte Coalition for Urban River Evaluation

Transmountain water boosts dilution of mine drainage and benefits gamefish in the North Fork of the #SouthPlatte #ColoradoRiver #COriver

From The Fairplay Flume (Kelly Kirkpatrick):

Why, exactly, are the fish dying?

Fish kills in the North Fork of the South Platte River are occurring during low water flow periods that fail to dilute the toxicity of heavy metals such as iron, copper and aluminum. Contaminants in the form of heavy metals move downstream, originating primarily from Hall Valley and Geneva Creek mining operations.

When water flow is adequate, there is enough oxygen to negate the impact of the toxins. When water levels are inadequate, fish develop coatings on their gills as a natural self-defense mechanism to the toxins. That protective coating ultimately renders their gills inoperable.

When and why do water levels get too low?

Water flow in the river is dependent upon how much water is released from Dillon Reservoir through Roberts Tunnel, and those decisions are made almost exclusively by Denver Water.

When more water is needed within Denver Water service areas, the rate of the water passing through Roberts Tunnel is set to flow more freely. When water is not needed to serve the Denver Water service area, the flow from Roberts Tunnel is restricted, much to the detriment of the people, and the fish, in Park County.

Water flows can be naturally low in the river during certain seasons. This year, in mid-March, for example, snowmelt had not yet occurred and the river was in its customary state of low flow prior to the fast-approaching late-spring thaw.

An abundance of area-wide spring moisture, however, created a situation where Denver Water service areas enjoyed a surplus of water. Therefore, the flow from Roberts Tunnel and Dillon Reservoir was ceased on March 11 and remained so at least until this writing.

The predictable result was the most recent fish kill, which occurred March 11-15, because flows were simply not sufficient to combat ever-present toxic heavy metals related to mining. No information has been provided by Denver Water as to when the tunnel will be reopened.

Denver Water states its position

When The Flume recently requested a statement from Denver Water regarding flows in the river and operations of Roberts Tunnel, a response was received in timely fashion.

In direct response to whether or not Denver Water felt a moral obligation to residents in Park County related to ecological systems they have long controlled, and whether Denver Water should accept responsibility for maintaining minimal flow in the South Platte River for the environmental and economical benefit of the entire North Fork region, the following statement was submitted:

“We (Denver Water) understand the potential for impacts to the fishery when flows from the Roberts Tunnel are shut down, and certainly recognize and appreciate the effect on the angling community and local businesses and outfitters. Unfortunately, operation of the Roberts Tunnel is directed by legal obligations and decrees tied to Colorado water law and binding agreements with West Slope communities where the water from the tunnel originates.

“As you know, the flows from the Roberts Tunnel originate in water diverted from West Slope rivers and streams into Dillon Reservoir. Denver Water depends on this supply when snow pack within the Upper South Platte watershed is insufficient. However, since early March, portions of the Upper South Platte watershed have received more than four feet of snow and spring precipitation continues to be strong.

“Legally, water supplied through the Roberts Tunnel can only be accessed when water is needed in Denver Water’s service area. Further, any other uses for the water, including augmenting stream flows for aquatic life or recreation uses, are not allowed as a primary purpose for operating the tunnel.

“While we provide projections about how long Denver Water will deliver water through the tunnel, those are only estimates based on snow pack, reservoir storage and other system elements. Those projections can change as conditions change; as they did in late winter and early spring this year.”

Colorado transmountain diversions via the State Engineer’s office

2019 Urban Water Cycle Tours June 4, 2019 — @WaterEdCO

Click here for all the inside skinny:

Join us for a fun and interactive day learning about the history of the South Platte River Urban Corridor Waterway and efforts to reclaim it. Explore this waterway by bicycle along with citizen leaders, scientists, planners and water managers.

Urban Water Cycle Tour Route: This roughly 10-mile route begins at Johnson Habitat Park, travels downstream along the Platte to Shoemaker Plaza at Confluence park, then on to the Globeville/National Western Complex area, ending at Metro Wastewater with lunch included. See the map and full itinerary on the reverse side of the page.

Registration is open! Registration will be capped at 30 participants per flight. Helmet required to ride. Sunscreen, water, and a small backpack are recommended.

The meetup point for the Water Education Colorado urban water tour in 2014 at the confluence of Clear Creek and the South Platte River.

United Water 70 Ranch Reservoir Grand Opening rescheduled for Wednesday May 15, 2019

70 Randh Reservoir: Partnering with the Platte River Water Development Authority, this facility will be used to store water for the support of 70 Ranch’s cattle and farming operations as well as provide storage for local agricultural and municipal water providers. Photo credit: 70 Ranch

Update: The event has been rescheduled due to the expected inclement weather tomorrow.

Here’s the release from the 70 Ranch folks (Lynn Bartels):

When Gov. Jared Polis recently unveiled a new state logo, he noted that the rich blue base of the design represented water, “which is absolutely critical to our state.”

Bob Lembke, president of the Weld Adams Water Development Authority, agrees. On property adjacent to his 70 Ranch in Weld County, Lembke has constructed one of the state’s largest synthetically lined, raw water reservoirs.

The grand opening for the 70 Ranch Reservoir, located near the South Platte River and Kersey, is now scheduled for May 15. The event was pushed back a week because of weather.

“We don’t have a water shortage problem in Colorado,” Lembke is fond of saying. “There is plenty of water in Colorado. We just have to capture and store it for those times and seasons when we need it.”

More than 3 million cubic yards of dirt were removed during the three-year construction process. The lined reservoir will hold somewhere around 5,500 acre feet of water.

Drew Damiano, vice president of operations for the Weld Adams Water Development Authority, or WAWDA, is the project manager for the reservoir.

“This is a big deal,” he said. “The reservoir is a critically important component of our system. It will allow us to utilize our decreed water rights to the fullest extent for agricultural, municipal and industrial purposes.”

Lembke purchased the 70 Ranch in 2003. Some historians say got its name because it was 70 miles from Denver, Cheyenne and Sterling, the three primary cattle shipping hubs in northern Colorado during the 19th century. Others note that settlers who grazed cattle on the land in 1870 branded them with the number “70.” A portion of James Michener’s novel “Centennial” was filmed on location at the ranch.

Today the 70 Ranch is actively involved in the Kersey community. Ranch operators manage farming, grazing and activities of the oil and gas operators across its more than 14,000 acres. A few years ago, Lembke donated a 165-acre parcel of land to the Platte River Water Development Authority where Colorado State University helps conduct experiments on subsurface irrigation to help farmers and municipalities conserve water and withstand droughts.

Click here to go to the website to learn more about the project from United Water:

70 Ranch Reservoir – The 70 Ranch Reservoir, located on the 70 Ranch and sponsored by the Weld Adams Water District Authority, is scheduled to open in 2019. The reservoir will hold 5,500 acre feet of water storage.

70 Ranch Pond Pipeline – The 70 Ranch has a 250 acre foot lined reservoir centrally located within its boundaries. To take advantage of the ranch’s prime location on the South Platte River, 70 Ranch is in the planning process of building a pipeline connecting the Platte River to the pond for augmentation purposes.

Larimer County is still waiting for $20 million from FEMA for repairs after 2013 floods

Damage to US 34 along the Big Thompson River September 2013. Photo credit: CDOT

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

Nearly six years after the Big Thompson River flood wrecked U.S. Highway 34, stranded Estes Park and wiped out bridges and homes, the U.S. government has yet to fund $20 million of repairs in Larimer County.

The county hasn’t started construction on County Road 47 (Big Elk Meadows) and County Road 44H (Buckhorn) because of the lack of funding. The county finished work on Big Thompson River bridges destroyed and rebuilt after the flood but hasn’t been reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the project.

The delay in FEMA funding for Larimer County’s last three flood recovery projects has county officials in a bind: As another construction season looms without federal money, so does a crucial state deadline.

Colorado’s general fund has paid for about 13% of Larimer County’s flood restoration work since 2013. Come September 2020, state funding for the projects will dry up.

“We will not be able to meet that deadline with the delays we’ve had because of this issue,” said Lori Hodges, Larimer County emergency management director. “Our biggest projects are at risk because we haven’t gotten the guidance we need.”

The holdup is essentially a bureaucratic issue. Congress passed a law in October 2018 changing the way FEMA awards money for disaster recovery work.

FEMA used to deny funding for all projects that didn’t meet a strict set of code compliance guidelines. The guidelines had little wiggle room for projects on roads and bridges in complex terrain — like the ones destroyed by the flood in the Big Thompson canyon. For example, a road repair in a narrow, rocky canyon probably couldn’t meet FEMA’s requirement for shoulder width.

The Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 instructed FEMA to award money for projects that don’t meet the strict guidelines as long as a local engineer signs off on the work and agrees a waiver is necessary. Congress gave FEMA 60 days to give its regional offices guidance on how to award funding under the new law.

But FEMA hasn’t done that yet, so regional officials won’t fund the implicated Larimer County projects, Hodges said. FEMA Region 8 spokesperson Lynn Kimbrough told the Coloradoan the office paused a Larimer County funding appeal as it waits for policy guidance from headquarters…

CR 47, partially destroyed by the flood, branches off U.S. Highway 36 between Lyons and Estes Park. The road is accessible but unpaved. An 11-mile stretch of CR 44H, located in Buckhorn Canyon and the Roosevelt National Forest, was heavily damaged in the flood and the High Park Fire in 2012.