Greeley Water Pollution Control Facility awarded a National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) Peak Performance Platinum 8 Award

Photo credit: Greeley.gov

From The Greeley Tribune (Tamara Markard):

NACWA recognizes wastewater plants that achieve 100% compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) over a consecutive five-year period.

The Greeley wastewater plant discharges more than 7 million gallons of treated water back into the Poudre River daily. Compliance with permitted requirements ensures that water is safe for downstream users, aquatic habitats, and the environment, according to a Greeley news release…

The wastewater plant maintains compliance through the operation and support of various systems that remove pollutants from the wastewater. Samples of the water are then tested and analyzed to ensure that the proper treatment has been performed…

or more information on the plant, water and sewer utilities, or to inquire about a tour, call (970) 350-9360 or visit http://www.greeleygov.com/water.

Thornton Water Project update

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

Larimer County leaders are asking a court to uphold their rejection of the Thornton pipeline.

The city of Thornton sued Larimer county commissioners in April, asking the Larimer County District Court to overturn the board’s decision and either approve one of the two proposed pipeline routes or force the county to do so. Larimer County commissioners filed their response to Thornton’s lawsuit Monday afternoon.

The legal battle is the latest twist in a yearslong fight over a proposed pipeline that would carry Poudre River water from reservoirs north of Fort Collins to Thornton…

Pipeline opponent No Pipe Dream and river advocacy group Save the Poudre both plan to intervene in the lawsuit, those groups’ leaders told the Coloradoan. If the court allows the groups to intervene, they’ll become parties in the lawsuit…

Commissioners argue the court must affirm their decision if there’s any “competent evidence” in the record supporting it. Competent evidence is a legal term describing evidence that tends to prove a matter in a dispute.

The county also argues the court doesn’t have the authority to substitute its own judgment on the pipeline path. If the court decides commissioners made the wrong call, it must send the case back to the board for reconsideration and correction, the answer argues.

Next steps in the lawsuit could include a motion for judgment or a scheduling conference for the parties to discuss the potential of a settlement or plan a discovery period and timeline for a trial.

Map via ThorntonWaterProject.com

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.

noosa yoghurt and Morning Fresh Dairy named Northeast Region Partner of the Year — #Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Water courses through the new fish passage at Watson Lake State Wildlife Area. The passage allows fish to swim up and down the river past a diversion dam. Photo credit: Northern Water

Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

The Graves family, owners of Morning Fresh Dairy and noosa yoghurt, was honored Thursday night with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northeast Region Partner of the Year Award for 2019.

The award was announced at the annual Partners in the Outdoors Conference awards dinner held at the Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center.

The Graves’ were nominated by CPW Assistant Area Wildlife Manager Jason Surface. Rob and Lori Graves were on hand at Thursday’s dinner and banquet to accept the award.

“The entire Graves family, and Rob in particular, deserve this award for their unwavering commitment to the natural resources of Colorado and the mission of CPW,” Surface said. “Through all facets of his life, Rob has recognized the importance of connecting all Coloradoans, including his employees, children, grandchildren and community members to their natural resources and building successful partnerships.”

Rob Graves is co-founder of noosa yoghurt and the Graves family owns a sixth generation dairy farm, Morning Fresh Dairy, in Bellvue, Colo.

The Graves family epitomizes a CPW partnership and has improved the state’s natural resources through stewardship, education, and monetary contribution.

The recently completed fish ladder at the Watson State Wildlife Area and Watson Lake is one recent project that exemplifies their commitment and generosity, and it will be on display next week with the ribbon cutting ceremony to showcase the project’s completion. Graves has been heavily involved with the project from its inception in 2016, funding the conceptual design in 2017 and his leadership and contributions were instrumental in moving the habitat improvement project a reality.

The Watson Lake fish ladder is reconnecting over two river miles on what was a fragmented Poudre River. The stretch there at Watson Lake contains important spawning habitat and deep pool that provides refuge for aquatic life.

“The Graves family have been and continue to be a great partner to CPW and truly help us achieve the goals laid out in both our Strategic Plan and Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP),” Surface said.

“Both of these plans emphasize the importance of wildlife conservation, outdoor stewardship and connecting people to the great outdoors by providing sustainable access and opportunities to outdoor recreation. These are goals they believe deeply in and he has made these a priority for not only himself, but his family, employees and the community of Bellvue as well.”

There are many arenas where the Graves’ family plays a hand in sharing the mission of CPW through conservation and community enhancement.

They develop and make outdoor stewardship ethics a priority, organize volunteer work and maintenance on our public lands, particularly at the Watson State Wildlife Area that they have adopted as their own. They organize and host events like the Pleasant Valley Days, which is focused on bringing the community together and getting people of all ages outdoors.

The ribbon cutting event for the Watson Lake fish ladder is taking place on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, at 11 a.m.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife: Ribbon cutting at Watson Lake fish ladder rescheduled for May 1

Water courses through the new fish passage at Watson Lake State Wildlife Area. The passage allows fish to swim up and down the river past a diversion dam. Photo credit: Northern Water

Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the completion of the fish ladder at Watson Lake has been rescheduled and will now take place on May 1 at 11 a.m.

It was originally set for April 12, but due to inclement weather during that week, was postponed.

Watson Lake is located in Bellvue, Colo., just west of Laporte, on Rist Canyon Road.

More Information:
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) along with funding partners noosa yoghurt, Northern Water, Morning Fresh Dairy, Poudre Heritage Alliance and Trout Unlimited will celebrate the completion of the fish ladder at Watson Lake.

The collaborative project is helping to reconnect a fragmented Poudre River. The stretch contains important spawning habitat and deep pools that provide refuge for aquatic life. This Watson Lake fish ladder is reconnecting over two river miles. The group hopes this will be one of many ladders along the Poudre River that will allow fish to travel freely upstream and downstream, improving the health of the fishery and the ecosystem without impacting water delivery.

Noosa yoghurt has been heavily involved with the project from its inception in 2016, funding the conceptual design in 2017. The vision for noosa has always been to give back to the community in a meaningful way.

“The Poudre River is a treasure in Northern Colorado,” said Stephanie Giard, community outreach coordinator for noosa yoghurt. “The project area is frequently visited by neighbors in the Pleasant Valley for fishing, birdwatching, or just enjoying nature. It is our responsibility to protect this valuable resource in our community.”

Watson Lake Diversion Structure is a channel spanning structure that represented a complete barrier to all upstream fish movement in the Poudre River. The structure delivers water to the Watson State Fish Hatchery and is owned and operated by CPW. The new fish ladder allows for passage through the diversion for all species present within the river reach including longnose dace, longnose suckers, white suckers, brown trout, and rainbow trout.

Designed by OneFish Engineering and built by L4 Environmental, the fish ladder at the Watson Diversion was completed in record time. Biologists and engineers from across CPW came together to work with OneFish Engineering to find the optimal design to provide upstream fish movement through the diversion structure. The construction project started in November at the end of the irrigation season. It had to be completed before spring runoff, which can start as early as March. The project was blessed with ideal weather for construction this winter.

“This project will improve river connectivity and benefit the aquatic resources by allowing fish to move freely back upstream as they wish,” CPW Aquatic Biologist Kyle Battige said. “Outside of the benefits to aquatic life, this project is important as it showcases the feasibility of fish passage at these large diversion structures and will hopefully further momentum for these types of projects. It also serves as an example of the collaboration and team effort from multiple entities that these large-scale conservation projects will have to have in order to be successful in today’s world.”

Northern Water General Manager Brad Wind said this project will be an example of future cooperative efforts on the river.

“This will be the first of several projects like these to create a healthier Poudre River for generations to come,” he said. “Northern Water and the NISP participants are proud to have been part of the cooperative effort to get this project completed.”

“This is a first step in improving the health and resiliency of the Poudre River,” said Rob Graves, owner of Morning Fresh Dairy and co-founder of noosa yoghurt. “Through collaboration, we can preserve and protect this critical natural resource that flows through our community.

“The river has played an important role in our business and in our family for over 100 years and we want to protect it for generations to come. We hope this project and future projects will be the legacy of our family and Morning Fresh Dairy.”

The latest e-WaterNews is hot off the presses from @Northern_Water

Water courses through the new fish passage at Watson Lake State Wildlife Area. The passage allows fish to swim up and down the river past a diversion dam. Photo credit: Northern Water

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

Fish passage begins its work reconnecting Poudre River segments

Construction crews have completed a new fish passage along the Poudre River at Watson Lake State Wildlife Area northwest of Fort Collins.

Built with the cooperation of the participants of the Northern Integrated Supply Project, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, noosa yoghurt and Morning Fresh Dairy, the passage serves to reconnect stretches of river that had been separated by a diversion dam.

Fort Collins company OneFish Engineering designed the project, and the construction company L4 Environmental built it over the past four months.

A dedication ceremony for the new structure is planned for early May. The Poudre Heritage Alliance and Trout Unlimited are also providing assistance, and a public celebration for the new passage is planned during the Pleasant Valley Rendezvous on June 2 at Watson Lake.

The City of Thornton files lawsuit over Larimer County’s denial of 1041 permit

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

Thornton has filed a lawsuit against Larimer County commissioners in protest of their rejection of the Thornton pipeline, kicking off a legal battle on the Poudre River.

The city is asking the Larimer County District Court to overturn the commissioners’ decision and either approve one of the two proposed pipeline routes or force the county to do so.

Thornton’s complaint, filed in the Larimer County District Court on Tuesday night, argues the Board of Commissioners’ decision “exceeds its jurisdiction and/or is contrary to law, misinterprets and misapplies its criteria, and was arbitrary and capricious because its findings lack competent evidence to support the Board’s denial of Thornton’s application.”

In a statement, city spokesman Todd Barnes said Thornton “has taken action to represent the interests and property rights of their constituents.”

[…]

Thornton’s water plans wouldn’t diminish flows in the Poudre River because the project’s water is already diverted from the river for agriculture. But the “Poudre River alternative,” which would involve running Thornton’s water down the river and nixing the northern segment of the pipeline, picked up considerable public support during a series of hearings on the project.

“In discussion of Thornton’s proposal during the hearings, it is clear that the Board, contrary to its authority, factored into its decision the notion that Thornton should not build a pipeline but rather send its water down the Cache la Poudre River or down the Larimer County canal,” Thornton wrote in its complaint.