‘As the Poudre Flows — Forest to Plains’ theme of Poudre River Forum

Scott Hummer, general manager of North Poudre Irrigation Company, talks about how his agency worked with Fort Collins Natural Areas and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to include a fish passage when the irrigation company replaced a diversion structure on the Poudre River that was destroyed by the 2013 floods. Work was completed [in February 2016]. (Pamela Johnson / Loveland Reporter-Herald)
Scott Hummer, general manager of North Poudre Irrigation Company, talks about how his agency worked with Fort Collins Natural Areas and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to include a fish passage when the irrigation company replaced a diversion structure on the Poudre River that was destroyed by the 2013 floods. Work was completed [in February 2016]. (Pamela Johnson / Loveland Reporter-Herald)

Here’s the release from Colorado State University (Jim Beers):

The Cache la Poudre River, which flows from the mountains through Fort Collins, Timnath and Windsor to the plains east of Greeley, is at the heart of countless activities: from irrigating crops and lawns to providing drinking water for more than 365,000 people and hosting numerous recreational activities.

Those with connections to and concerns for the Poudre River will gather on Friday, Feb. 3 for the fourth annual Poudre River Forum. After its first three years at Larimer County Fairgrounds, the forum is moving down the river to Greeley as a reminder that the Poudre River is important to all who benefit from it — from its headwaters to its confluence with the South Platte. This year’s forum — the theme is “As the Poudre Flows — Forest to Plains” — will be held from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Island Grove Events Center, 501 N. 14th Ave., Greeley. Pre-registration is required for all participants.

Understanding the river, each other

Sponsored by the Poudre Runs Through It Study/Action Work Group, the forum serves as a community-wide gathering of people from agricultural, municipal, business, recreational and environmental backgrounds to learn about and discuss issues related to the Poudre River.

“The Poudre River Forum brings together those who use the river for agricultural and urban diversions and those who work to improve its ecological health. In the past those groups have not necessarily seen eye to eye,” said MaryLou Smith, PRTI facilitator. “Increasingly our participants are open to the idea that it takes collective vision and action to make the Poudre the world’s best example of a healthy, working river.”

Once again, this year’s event will be facilitated by the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University. “The Forum is a great opportunity for the communities connected by the Poudre River to come together to better understand the entire watershed, and each other,” said Reagan Waskom, director of CWI.

Forests and water quality/quantity

Laurie Huckaby with the U.S. Forest Service, will present “The last 1,000 years in the Poudre according to the trees,” to kick off the topic of how important the upper watershed is to water quantity and quality.

“Water quality and forests are inextricably linked,” said Joe Duda of the Colorado State Forest Service, who will join Huckaby as one of the presenters. “Forest conditions and insects, disease and fire all can have profound impacts on water flow and quality. Only healthy, resilient forests can continuously supply clean water.”

Global lessons for local success

“Finding the Balance: Managing Water for People and Nature” is the message of keynote speaker Brian Richter. Richter has been a global leader in water science and conservation for more than 25 years, and currently serves as chief scientist for the Global Water Program of The Nature Conservancy in Washington D.C. Richter’s ideas about the importance of recognizing the balance of working river/healthy river are the basis for which PRTI was initially formed. He has consulted on more than 120 water projects worldwide, and has served as a water advisor to some of the world’s largest corporations, investment banks, the United Nations, and has testified before Congress on multiple occasions. Richter co-authored,with Sandra Postel, the 2003 book Rivers for Life: Managing Water for People and Nature and in 2014 wrote Chasing Water: A Guide for Moving from Scarcity to Sustainability.

Change affects all sectors

An afternoon panel session will probe the impacts of change — positive and negative — along the Poudre River and how they have been similarly and differently addressed by agriculture, urban, and environmental sectors. They will discuss what anticipated future changes might these three sectors see as opportunities or incentives for mutually beneficial collaboration that could result in a healthier, working river?

“It has been said that the only thing that is constant is change,” said John Bartholow, retired ecologist from U.S. Geological Survey, and panel coordinator/moderator. “The question is, can we learn to adapt to those changes sure to come on the Poudre in ways that benefit agriculture, municipalities, and the environment?”

The panel will include Eric Reckentine, deputy director, City of Greeley Water and Sewer; John Sanderson, director of science, Nature Conservancy of Colorado; and Dale Trowbridge, general manager, New Cache la Poudre Irrigating Company.

Videos, displays and music too

The day-long forum also includes “River Snapshots” highlighting more than 15 projects undertaken by a variety of groups on the Poudre last year; “My How the Poudre Has Changed,” featuring historical 1970’s footage of the Poudre; updates from both the cities of Greeley and Fort Collins on current water programs; and over two dozen river-focused displays from community organizations and agencies. The day concludes with a social hour including food, beer and other beverages, and river-themed door prizes.

Registration is $50 and includes lunch. Scholarships for students and reduced rates are available. The deadline to register is Friday, Jan. 27 at http://prti.colostate.edu/forum_2017.shtml.

For more information, contact event coordinator Gailmarie Kimmel at PoudreRiverForum@gmail.com or 970-692-1443.

Big snow for Fort Collins

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map via the NRCS.
Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map via the NRCS.

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

It never looked like a blizzard outside, but three straight days of snow landed Fort Collins with upwards of 9 inches in the city’s northern reaches and at least 7 inches everywhere else by the end of Thursday. That makes it the biggest snow storm Fort Collins has seen this season and pushed the city above its average for this time of year.

“Water storage is ‘integral’ to Fort Morgan’s future” — Ron Shaver

Northern Integrated Supply Project July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.
Northern Integrated Supply Project July 27, 2016 via Northern Water.

From The Fort Morgan Times (Jenni Grubbs):

A community that does not have enough water is a community that does not survive, and Fort Morgan city leaders want to ensure that is not what happens here.

As such, the Fort Morgan City Council approved continuing the city’s role in the Northern Integrated Supply Project and the $360,000 expenditure that will require in 2017.

Fort Morgan has been gambling on NISP, a massive water storage project, getting permitted and built for 13 years now, according to Water Resources/Utilities Director Brent Nation.

But it’s a gamble that could pay off in water security for as long as the next five decades, according to City Manager Jeff Wells.

About NISP

That’s because NISP would include Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (aka Northern Water) building both Glade Reservoir north of Fort Collins and Galeton Reservoir northeast of Greeley and east of Ault.

If these reservoirs get built, it would mean “40,000 acre feet of new, reliable water supplies” for the 15 NISP participants, which include Fort Morgan, Morgan County and Morgan County Quality Water District.

But getting it built involves both completion of the final environmental impact statement for he project and getting a record of decision on a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

As of January 2017, Northern Water was estimating that the Corps likely will finish the FEIS yet this year and then issue the record of decision on the permit sometime in 2018.

Large cost, lengthy timeline

Fort Morgan, alone, will have spent more than $1.3 million toward NISP and the city’s 9 percent stake in it over the project’s 13 years of planning and studies. And there could be another 10 to 12 years yet to go before NISP and its reservoirs conceivably would go online and the city would have water stored in Galeton Reservoir and pumped back to Fort Morgan.

As the project progresses, the city’s annual payments for it will get larger and larger, Nation warned. He called the 2017 one among the last of the “smaller payments.”

Depending upon what the Corps does this year, the larger NISP payments could start next year.

“Next year, in 2018, we’ll start moving into the larger engineering payments, and then hopefully within a year or two after that we’ll be moving into construction-type payments, where we’re getting into millions of dollars for our portion of that work,” Nation said.

Regardless, if and when it does get built, NISP would provide enough water to give the city water security for the future and whatever residential, commercial and industrial growth may come, according to Mayor Ron Shaver, Wells and Nation.

And such a lengthy timeline is not unusual for this large of a water storage project, according to both Nation and officials from Northern Water.

Reasons to continue

But continuing to support it will be worth it for the city in the long term, Nation stressed.

He shared his reasons why the city should “move forward on this project” with the council.

“We continue to exist on a base water supply that we have to rent what we need for our current needs. We still have times of the year where we’re using some rental C-BT water in order to meet all of our water demands,” Nation said.

Also, the Fort Morgan Water Treatment Plant is experiencing record levels for demand for treated water, with 1.5 billion gallons treated over the last 12 months.

“Six out of the last seven months we had record production at treatment facility,” Nation said, adding that the local industry was “driving those numbers.”

Specifically, large industrial water customer Cargill Meat Solutions is continuously pulling in water.

“We’re not seeing a lot of downtime with Cargill,” Nation said. “And even when they’re down on that seventh day, they’re using a lot of water just to clean the facility.”

And expansions at both the Leprino Foods cheese plant and the Western Sugar Cooperative beet plant have meant increased demand for water from Fort Morgan.

“We just continue to see our industrial/commercial numbers go up as we continue just to exist at the current population that we’re at,” Nation said. “It kind of drives home to me that this project is important to us. It’s something that we need to continue to participate in and see it to the finish line. This is something we need as a community.”

Wells agreed, adding that the city has previously looked into many other options for obtaining enough water for the city’s future.

“Today, there are no more viable alternatives than NISP for the city of Fort Morgan,” he said.

Shaver, who served as the city’s utilities director before retiring from the city and then serving on the council and now as mayor, said NISP is what the city needs for its future.

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

http://www.reporterherald.com/news/ci_30684388/big-t-river-rehab-begin

Flood damage Big Thompson Canyon September 2013 -- photo via Northern Water
Flood damage Big Thompson Canyon September 2013 — photo via Northern Water

From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

This year, actual work will begin to repair habitat along and inside several stretches of the Big Thompson River through a grassroots group, The Big Thompson Watershed Coalition, that formed after the 2013 flood.

“2017 is going to be a big year for projects happening on the ground,” said Shayna Jones, watershed coordinator with the coalition. “We’re talking millions of dollars in river restoration.”

A couple of projects through the coalition have already begun, but several others are going to kick off in 2017. Early in the year, the coalition will put out bids for a contractor to work on a stretch about a mile long from Jasper Lake through Narrows Park, which is in the lower section of the canyon.

Estimated to cost $900,000, the project will include stabilizing sections of the banks, planting vegetation and creating what are called flood plain benches to allow the water space to spread out in the event of a future flood, explained Jones and Tracy Wendt, assistant watershed coordinator.

The work also includes improving fish habitat in several ways, such as building pools within the river and planting vegetation in strategic places to provide shade and cover.

“There will be habitat improvements for all different life stages of trout,” Wendt said. “It’s all the phases of their life to help them.”

Because of the fish habitat component, the coalition, in partnership with Rocky Mountain Flycasters, recently received a $4,500 grant from the Trout and Salmon Foundation. And the Flycasters, a local chapter of Trout Unlimited, also contributed $2,000 to the project.

The bulk of the funding, about $500,000, will come from the Natural Resources Conservation Service with the rest of the money from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Jones explained.

This piece of the river winds through both private and public properties and ends just before the Narrows near the Colorado Cherry Company.

Other projects also are planned further west along the river with more money coming from the NRCS and the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The exact amounts of money and grants are still being finalized, though Jones did confirm the total work would be in the millions.

Other projects to rehabilitate the river and river corridor are occurring simultaneously including one that will begin in 2017 as a partnership with the coalition and Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.

Work began in October and will continue this spring on West Creek, and other improvements began two weeks ago on Fox Creek. Both, located along the North Fork near Glen Haven, are being built in partnership with Larimer County, NRCS and the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

Also, Larimer County, private property owners, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Colorado Department of Transportation officials are working on separate stretches of the river, with everyone working together for overall river benefit.

“We’re making sure our projects are complementing each other to make for an overall healthy watershed,” Jones said.

She expects the work to continue over the next three years as the Colorado Department of Transportation completes the permanent repairs of U.S. 34, which also include massive river restoration work.

The November 2016 eWaterNews is hot off the presses from @Northern_Water

First water through the Adams Tunnel. Photo credit  Northern Water.
First water through the Adams Tunnel. Photo credit Northern Water.

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

The C-BT Project water year ended on Oct. 31. C-BT Project storage levels on Nov. 1 were above average for a third consecutive year, with 548,274 acre-feet in active storage. The Nov. 1 average is 444,177 AF. Deliveries increased in 2016 over 2015 levels, with 204,078 AF delivered (including quota, Carryover Program and Regional Pool Program water). Forty-six percent of the deliveries were from Horsetooth Reservoir, 40 percent from Carter Lake and the remaining 14 percent went to the Big Thompson River, Hansen Feeder Canal and the South Platte River. Estimated deliveries to municipal and industrial users totaled 102,157 AF, while agricultural deliveries were approximately 101,921 AF.

How Fort Collins’ biggest brewery reduced its thirst — Fort Collins Coloradan

Photo credit Colorado Brewed.
Photo credit Colorado Brewed.

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

Anheuser-Busch’s Fort Collins facility reached a water-to-beer ratio of about 2.9 gallons this year, the lowest of the city’s 21 breweries.

Brewery leaders say there’s still plenty of wiggle room for water conservation, especially for a facility that churns out about 10 million barrels of beer each year using only Fort Collins Utilities water from Horsetooth Reservoir and the Cache la Poudre River. That’s a lot of water to make the brewery’s popular beverages, and with the city entering its first weeks of severe drought, the spotlight on conservation is as bright as ever.

“Every year, we’re watching that snowpack,” A-B senior brewmaster Katie Rippel said. “It can turn on a dime. We’ve had a couple good winters in a row — I call it fat, dumb and happy — but it was only a few years ago when that wasn’t the case.”

A-B’s water use decreased 11 percent between 2011 and 2015, thanks in part to a tweak that allows re-use of the water used to rinse the brewery’s towering fermentation tanks.

The brewery didn’t provide its total water usage, but Coloradoan calculations indicate it now uses upwards of 900 million gallons of water each year, equal to the annual water use of about one-sixth of Fort Collins households. The estimate comes from the brewery’s water-to-beer ratio and its 2014 production volume.

Brewer Bill Workman, who designed and implemented the rinsing water change with maintenance technician Tim Burge, came up with the idea after noticing how much water and yeast drained out of the brewery’s massive, multi-story fermentation tanks during rinsing.

Workman, a Berthoud native who’s worked at A-B since the year after it opened in 1988, wondered if all that water could be re-used in earlier steps of the brewing process.

“We were told it couldn’t be done,” he recalled during an interview in the brewery’s upper-level tasting room. “We were like, ‘Wanna bet?’ Katie said, ‘Go find a way.’

Workman and Burge spent close to a year engineering a programming pathway for their idea that wouldn’t sacrifice the quality of the brewery’s two-dozen-odd beers or interfere with other parts of the brewing process.

The change was fully implemented in summer of 2015 and saves about 800,000 gallons of water each year. Other North American A-B breweries are now starting to implement the change and finding comparable water savings.

Other conservation methods have helped the brewery reduce its water use, including installation of low-flow nozzles on every tank, re-use of water throughout the cleaning and bottling process and technology that helps brewers determine when equipment is truly clean, reducing rinse water.

The floor for water use is about 1 gallon of water for every gallon of beer, plus a smaller amount used for cleaning, Rippel estimated.

“Everything else is on the table,” she said, adding the brewery will next look for even more ways to re-use water and cut down on water used during cleaning.

Water conservation means cost savings for the brewery, which pays for its Fort Collins Utilities water like any other customer. It also means something more personal to employees, many of whom have worked in the brewery and lived in the Fort Collins area for decades.

“That’s why we’re trying to minimize our impact: All of us love the area we live in,” Rippel said. “I mean, we want to be good corporate citizens, but it’s more about, ‘I live here, and I’m using the same water to brew that I’m using at home.’ So I’m protecting mine.”

Water usage at other Fort Collins breweries

  • The Nos. 2 and 3 breweries for production, New Belgium Brewing Co. and Odell Brewing Co., respectively use about 4 gallons and 3.6 gallons of water per gallons of beer produced. Economy of scale makes it difficult for smaller breweries to achieve the same water savings as larger producers.
  • The industry average water-to-beer ratio is about 7:1, according to the Brewers Association
  • .