Ninth Annual Arkansas Valley Farm/Ranch/Water Symposium recap

February 16, 2013

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From the Bent County Democrat (Bette McFarren):

Stephen Koontz, associate professor at Colorado State University in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics led off the morning with the economic and commodity outlook. He was followed by Russell Tomky’s “Ag Finance in Southeast Colorado.” Tomky is president and chief executive officer of Farm Credit of Southern Colorado.

Jefferey Tranel of C.S.U. spoke next on the subject of risk management. Brian Bledsoe, chief meteorologist at KKTV 11 News, enlightened the group on what may be expected of the weather in 2013 (more drought).

The afternoon saw Grady Grissom, manager/partner at Rancho Largo Co., an academic turned ranch manager, speak of the fundamental wisdom of maximum ecosystem health, a lesson learned from hard experience and the advice of more experienced ranchers. Grissom went from maximum stocking to paying more attention to his grass. From 2004 to now he has learned that it takes grass to make water, you can hold moisture with grass and grass actually acts as fertilizer. Ecological health builds resilience in drought. His second business plan maintains grass reserve, prefers livestock that performs well in dry conditions and keeps a capital reserve. He advises limiting the herd early instead of waiting until you have to sell. Plant and animal diversity and balance is the key to survival.

Chris Woodka of the Pueblo Chieftain shared some of the insights he has gained through many years of reporting water news. When he first started, the crunch was on the growing cities to have enough municipal water for their expanding population. As the years went on, it became evident that there is also an agricultural water shortage…

Anna Maus of the Colorado Water Conservancy Board is responsible for marketing the CWCB Water Project Loan Program offered to agricultural, municipal and commercial borrowers throughout the State of Colorado. She appeared with Taryn Finnessey, who works on drought planning and climate change for the Colorado Water Conservation Board. She provides technical assistance to water providers and users throughout Colorado in the development, implementation and monitoring of drought mitigation planning programs.

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.


Ken Salazar’s legacy

February 16, 2013

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From The New York Time (Robert B. Semple):

Mr. Salazar made many important contributions. Mr. Obama told him to design a balanced energy strategy on the public lands administered by his department, and for the most part he did. He took a far more measured approach to oil and gas exploration than the “drill now, drill everywhere” people around George W. Bush. He orchestrated a major overhaul of safety standards for drilling, and remade his department’s regulatory machinery, in the wake of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. He initiated new standards for hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas fields on public lands. And he moved cautiously on oil drilling in the Arctic. But his biggest contribution to a sensible long-term energy strategy is one whose fruits will not be visible for years, and one for which he has not been widely recognized: a plan setting aside hundreds of thousands of acres of Western lands for the future development of solar and wind power. Painstakingly negotiated with multiple stakeholders, including states, industry and the environmental community, the plan provides a roadmap for future development aimed at maximizing clean energy sources without harming the environment, particularly endangered species and other wildlife.


Williams Fork: A Middle Park Land Trust conservation easement protects the 117-acre Blue Ridge Ranch

February 16, 2013

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News:

The Middle Park Land Trust recently accepted its 63rd conservation easement, protecting the 117-acre Blue Ridge Ranch located in the Williams Fork Valley. This conservation easement, like all easements, will protect the property’s scenic and agricultural open space and its quality natural habitat in perpetuity.

Characterized by upland sagebrush, wetlands, riparian habitat, and aspen and conifer forests, Blue Ridge Ranch provides habitat for a variety of wildlife, birds, fish and insects. The easement provides a link between the habitat on the property and that on surrounding public and private lands, as well as connecting adjacent and nearby conservation properties that have already been protected in the Williams Fork Valley…

With the Blue Ridge Ranch Conservation Easement, the land trust now holds 63 easements on 6,954 acres.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.


Source water protection plan for I-70 corridor from Newcastle and Parachute indentifies pollution sources

February 16, 2013

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From the The Rifle Citizen Telegram (Nelson Harvey):

The Source Water Protection Plan, an inventory of drinking water resources for several towns along the Interstate 70 corridor, also identifies other activities that could contaminate drinking water, including natural gas drilling, fires, pesticide use, landfills and others, but it does not highlight existing water pollution problems.

“We just want to make people aware that they have the potential to contaminate our source water,” said Mark King, public works director for the town of Parachute. “The whole point is just to educate people of the hazards. The oil field, the railroad, they carry all kinds of [pollutants].”

King worked on the report, along with a coalition of public works officials from Rifle, Silt and New Castle. The effort was funded by a grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to meet a federal Clean Water Act requirement of every state to have plans in place to protect water sources.

In Rifle, according to the report, the largest potential water pollution threats, aside from road runoff, are gas operations, gas pipelines, and spills or runoff from train travel through the area.

In Silt, issues of concern include gas drilling and railroads. Those threats are also present in Parachute, according to the report, where other potential threats include leaking septic tanks at private homes and uncertainty about how water migrates into Revelle Springs, a drinking water source.

The report authors recommend that Parachute fund a formal study to pinpoint the sources of groundwater seeping into the springs, to ensure those areas are protected…

To better protect water quality, the report contains only recommendations, rather than new regulations or policy suggestions.

Those include distributing copies of the report and cards with emergency contact information to gas companies for use in the event of a spill, and researching the long-term effect of magnesium chloride, a compound used to melt ice on roadways, on local water supplies.

And since fire poses a major contamination risk to water supplies by increasing erosion and destroying features that absorb water, the authors also recommend that local officials collaborate with firefighters to include water supplies on maps of high risk fire areas.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.


Denver Water: Harriman Dam Project complete

February 16, 2013

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Here’s the release from Denver Water:

Harriman Lake Park, located on the southwest corner of South Kipling Parkway and West Quincy Avenue in Littleton, Colo., will reopen to the public Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. The area has been closed since December 2011 for Denver Water to rebuild the 138-year-old Harriman Dam, bringing it up to current regulatory standards and restoring its full storage capacity.

The new dam will restore the water level approximately 3 feet higher, increasing the surface area of the restored reservoir from its former size of about 55 acres to about 66 acres. The reservoir will be refilled gradually after the Office of the State Engineer completes its inspection process.

This project allows Denver Water to meet the irrigation needs of multiple Harriman water users without adding demands to its potable water supplies or developing new sources of water. Denver Water uses the reservoir to deliver irrigation water to Fort Logan National Cemetery, Jeffco Public Schools, Pinehurst Country Club and other nearby areas.

Denver Water owns the reservoir, dam and land within the park, while Foothills Park & Recreation District manages the recreation at Harriman through an agreement with Denver Water.

Construction on Harriman Dam has been completed, and now Foothills Park & Recreation District is replacing recreational amenities before the park officially reopens Feb. 15. Fishing will not be allowed until the reservoir is restocked and vegetation is established along the banks.

More infrastructure coverage here.


Fryingpan-Arkansas Project update: 40 cfs in the river below Ruedi Dam

February 16, 2013

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Those of you driving past Ruedi Dam over the next week or two might notice a Reclamation drill crew along the retaining wall just north of the dam. The crew is taking samples of the wall as part of our regular and on-going maintenance program across all of our facilities.

Meanwhile, we continue to release about 40 cfs to the Fryingpan River. We are storing what we can behind the dam in anticipation of a below-average run-off.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.


Drought/snowpack news: ‘We are expecting to see the drought persist and continue at least through April’ — Taryn Finnessey

February 16, 2013

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

[Colorado Water Conservation Board Drought & Climate Change Technical Specialist Taryn Finnessey] said last year was the second worst drought year on record for Colorado since 1895, with the worst year only beating 2012 out by tenths of a degree, and that was at the height of the Dust Bowl.

The U.S. Drought Monitor currently shows the whole state under dry conditions with the eastern plains under extreme or exceptional drought conditions, Finnessey noted. In all of the San Luis Valley counties except Mineral the drought monitor indicates severe drought but not extreme or exceptional…

Unfortunately, the drought is forecast to persist at least through the spring months, she added, with temperatures above average and precipitation below average. “We are expecting to see the drought persist and continue at least through April.”

A drought task force is monitoring conditions, Finnessey said. Right now the task force is concentrating on agriculture, but if drought conditions persist, task forces will be activated to deal with impacts to tourism, municipalities, fire and other arenas…

Finnessey was involved in reviewing survey results regarding the effect of the 2011 drought year on the agricultural economy in the Rio Grande and Arkansas River basins, which CSU Agriculture and Resource Economics Professor James Pritchett addressed during the 2013 Southern Rocky Mountain Agricultural Conference in Monte Vista last week. Finnessey said 2012 drought impacts are now being sought from area farmers and ranchers to determine the impact of multiple years of drought, and she encouraged San Luis Valley residents to participate in the survey.

To fill out the survey online, which takes 10-15 minutes and is primarily multiple choice, go to: http://tinyurl.com/CSU-drought

Economic losses due to drought conditions were not just evident in lost production, Finnessey said, but also in lost potential revenue related to that production that might have been realized because of higher commodity prices during that same drought period — “potential revenue, what would have been earned under typical growing conditions.”

Those combinations resulted in an estimated $4.7 million economic impact in the Rio Grande Basin due to drought in 2011, according to Finnessey. By comparison, the Arkansas Basin logged $104 million losses due to drought in 2011 and 1,300 jobs lost. That severity relates to the Arkansas Basin’s reliance on dry-land farming, Finnessey explained…

Most of the state was declared either a primary or contiguous drought area last year, Finnessey said, and although those designations expired at the end of the year, they were renewed again this year. She said the eastern plains were hit the hardest, but the Rio Grande Basin received contiguous classification, which means some benefits. Unfortunately what those benefits will be to area producers is unclear because the Farm Bill is still in limbo, Finnessey said…

Not only farmers and ranchers are worried about water conditions this year, Finnessey added. With reservoir storage less on February 1 of this year than last year at this time, municipalities are concerned about being able to provide enough water for their customers this year, Finnessey said. A web site is being set up that will help folks know about water restrictions in their areas, landscaping and agricultural information under drought conditions. It is not live yet but will be located at coloradodrought.com

From the Casper Star-Tribune (Benjamin Starrow):

Widespread drought in 2012 divided Wyoming’s ranchers into two basic categories: those with hay and those without. The distinction has important implications early in 2013, already showing signs of being another dry year. There may be no better insurance policy against a dry summer than hay. It could mean the difference between keeping and selling key breading stock. That, in turn, could mean the difference between a profitable year and a devastating one.

2012 was the driest year in the last 118, resulting in the state’s worst hay crop since 1950, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Wyoming hay production plummeted from 2.4 million tons in 2011 to 1.9 million in 2012, according to the service. Nationally, hay stocks are down 16 percent. Prices have gone the opposite direction. Alfalfa was selling at $215 a ton in November, compared to $145 last year…

Snowpack levels are down, even with last weekend’s snow storm, National Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Jones said Monday. Snowpack on Casper Mountain was around 40 percent of its 30-year-average. In the Snowy Range and southern Wind Rivers, those numbers ranged from 50 to 65 percent, Jones said…

Precipitation levels, critical for the ground moisture needed for healthy rangeland, are also down in many places in Wyoming. While the northwest and northeastern parts of the state have seen consistent precipitation, central and southeastern Wyoming has struggled.

Casper received 1.71 inches of precipitation between October and January. That is 59 percent of the city’s 30-year average. Last year the city saw 4.06 inches of precipitation over the same period, according to weather service data. In 2011, that number stood at 3.21 inches.

Last week, the state engineer’s office announced it was implementing “priority administration” on the North Platte River and its tributaries north of Pathfinder Reservoir and between Pathfinder and Guernsey reservoirs. All water from the designated section of river will be diverted into the reservoirs for storage. It was the first time the state announced priority administration outside of irrigation season since 2005…

Back at his Casper farm, [Robert Keith] said he believes in the resiliency of the state’s ranching industry. Drought is, after all, a part of life here. His own farm should be in good shape. The Casper Alcova Irrigation District stores water in good years and has a seven-year supply, Keith said. Further, the farm invested in a series of irrigation pivots, increasing the efficiency of Keith’s operations. He said he uses three-quarters of his annual allotment most years. Still, he has worries. “I think we could hold on one more year,” Keith said. “If it happens another year, no one will be in business.”

From the Cortez Journal (Kimberly Benedict):

Buoyed by a recent forecast from the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, the local U.S. Bureau of Reclamation office has released a tentative operating plan for McPhee Reservoir which predicts all water allocations will be met for the 2013 water year. Though the state of the area’s rivers and reservoirs is far from outstanding, present snow levels and predicted instream flows are reason to be hopeful, according to Vern Harrell, a civil engineering technician with the Bureau of Reclamation’s Western Colorado area office.

“It looks fair right now, not really good, but fair,” Harrell said. “It looks like we most likely will meet all our obligations for the users.”

The present water year comes on the heels of four years of drought conditions which have left local reservoirs dangerously low. Currently, McPhee Reservoir stands 100,000 acre feet below it’s reserve elevation in February 2012. The lack of reserve in the reservoir means water users in the area are counting on a solid snowpack and generous runoff to provide operating water for 2013…

The forecast for the reservoir predicts total accumulation of 205,000 acre feet, roughly 70 percent of average inflow volume. Should the reservoir fill at that rate it would reach a maximum content of 272,988 acre feet, 63 percent full. By October, however, the reservoir would already be pulled down to an elevation lower than where it sits currently. Thus, the cycle of hoping for snow and decent inflow rates would begin again…

Though snowpack seems the most obvious key to a decent water year, the timing of the runoff, current soil moisture and summer weather conditions all contribute to the story of water allocations and reservoir demand. The interplay of these factors can support or hurt water supply…

According to automated system data gathered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the snowpack statewide is at 76 percent of average. Of the eight river basin regions studied by NRCS, the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan region is the only basin above 90 percent of average, calculated at 91 percent as of Feb. 12. The Arkansas and South Platte basins are at 65 and 59 percent of average respectively. North Platte stands at 72 percent, Yampa and White at 76 percent, Colorado at 70 percent, Gunnison at 78 percent and the Upper Rio Grande at 81 percent.

From The Mountain Mail (James Redmond):

Typically this time of year the mountains receive an inch of moisture a week, yet weekly totals through Jan. 23 mostly ranged from 0.1 to 1 inch along the Western Slope, with a few isolated pockets receiving 1 to 2 inches, the Water Availability Task Force’s January drought update reported…

In Salida January yielded only 0.01 inch of precipitation throughout the entire month. January usually has an average precipitation of 0.33 inch, historical Mountain Mail records show…

If the Chaffee County area has a drought this year similar to last year’s conditions, “that would be a record,” Terry Scanga, Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District manager, said Jan. 31.

This area has never seen two back-to-back drought years of last year’s severity, he said. If the drought continues, irrigation rights will see the impact first, probably near July…

“My forecast for late winter, January to March, shows below-normal odds for moisture in much of (Colorado), still consistent with a cold North Pacific (PDO) in conjunction with a warm North Atlantic (AMO),” [Klaus] Wolter reported Positive AMO and negative PDO values go a long way toward explaining our dry fall and early winter. Given the continuing PDO-AMO setup for drought, pessimism remains justified for at least the next few months, he reported.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Statewide, snowpack moisture content was listed at 75 percent of average following storm systems that moved through over the weekend. The southwest corner of the state was at 90 percent of average; the Rio Grande basin, 81 percent; and the Arkansas River basin, 65 percent.

About 6 inches of snow were recorded in the Spanish Peaks area, with a moisture content of about 0.35 inches. The largest amounts of water added to the snowpack in the Arkansas River basin came at South Colony in Custer County, Whiskey Creek in Las Animas County and Hayden Pass in Saguache County.

Relatively lower amounts were recorded in the Upper Arkansas River.

“There was about 2 feet of snow in my front yard, but we need about 4 feet this time of year,” said Rego Omerigic of Leadville.


The Willow Creek Restoration Committee is celebrating their 15 year anniversary

February 16, 2013

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From The Mineral County Miner (Guinevere Nelson):

The Creede Mining District had many waste rock piles, seeps, mine adits and mill tailings when the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) performed their preliminary assessment of Willow Creek in 1994. The findings prompted further inspection of Willow Creek’s water and were summarized into a report in 1997.

This report provided the basis for listing the Creede Mining District on the National Priorities List under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Com-pensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as the Superfund Act.

The Superfund Listing encompassed the entire Creede Mining District, including both branches of Willow Creek. The consequences of Superfund designation on Creede’s tourist based economy were unknown, but a few concerned citizens were not interested in finding out.

Steve Russell from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Mark Haugen of the Rio Grande Soil Conservation Service and with the support of the City of Creede, held a meeting and informed attendees about the proposed listing.

A year later, the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee was taking action to address the issues causing poor water quality in Willow Creek without EPA intervention. The Creede Mining District was not listed as a Superfund Site and the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee went to work.

To complete their work, the WCRC defined six core goals to guide their efforts: 1) Protect the Rio Grande from future fish kills associated with nonpoint source releases during unusual hydrologic events. 2) Improve the visual and aesthetic aspects of the Willow Creek watershed and its historical mining district. 3) Implement appropriate and cost-effective flood control and stabilization measures for nonpoint sources. 4) Protect and preserve historic structures. 5) Reclaim the Willow Creek floodplain below Creede to improve the physical, chemical, biological and aesthetic qualities of the creek as an integral part of the local community. 6) Continue to improve water quality and physical habitat quality in the Willow Creek watershed as part of a long-term watershed management program.

From its inception, the Willow Creek Project has had a firm commitment to find innovative, non-regulatory approaches to improve the water quality in Willow Creek and to protect the gold medal fishery in the Rio Grande River downstream – a premier fly-fishing stream. Local residents were ready and eager to apply best management practices (BMP’s) to reduce the metals in the stream so that water quality standards could be achieved, only to find out that the information and data on the sources and loadings of the metals were incomplete. The WCRC received CDPHE funding and spent from 1999-2003 sampling surface water, groundwater, waste rock piles, mine pools, macroinvertebrates and fish to fill in the information gaps.

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.


H.R. 267: Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 passes the U.S. House unanimously

February 16, 2013

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From The Telluride Daily Planet (Colin McRann):

The bill is called the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act. With its unanimous passage in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, small hydro projects are one step closer to shedding some federal regulations. U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) reintroduced the bill to the House in January.

One of its major supporters is the Colorado Small Hydro Association. Johnson, who is president of the association, has been pushing for the bill’s passage for years because he says current hydropower regulations are unfit to address small hydro projects. “I hope that the Senate acts with the same enthusiasm that the House acted on,” Johnson said. “[If the bill passes] it will lead to development of new small hydro installations and job creation in rural Colorado.”[...]

If the new bill is passed into law, the regulatory process could be streamlined for certain small hydro projects. The bill, as written, provides periods of public comment and directs the Federal Energy Regulator Commission (FERC) to examine the feasibility of a two-year licensing process for certain low-impact hydropower projects. Some of the low-impact projects could include the conversion of existing non-powered dams into power-generating ones.

Historically, western Colorado has been home to a number of small hydroelectric projects, including the Bridal Veil hydroelectric power station above Telluride, the Ames Power Plant and the Ouray Hydroelectric Power Plant. However, new developments with small hydropower projects have not been common in recent years.

The bill states that a significant amount of new hydroelectric generation could come from maximizing existing infrastructure, particularly non-powered dams. It states that only about 3 percent of the nation’s 80,000 dams currently generate hydropower…

To see the full text of H.R. 267, go to govtrack.us.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.


2013 Colorado legislation: ‘The number of water-related bills tends to be inversely proportional to the amount of snowpack we have’ — Randy Fischer

February 16, 2013

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A bill that would extend the state engineer’s authority to approve interruptible supply agreements was heard in the state House Agriculture Committee this week. Most of the testimony was against the bill, which would allow the state engineer to approve temporary water transfer agreements between cities and farms for up to 30 years, rather than the current limit of 10 years. Leases of water could occur for only three years within each 10-­year period. Claims of injury could be filed in water court.

Opponents of the bill argue that the time period is too long, and that applications in water court are needed in advance to determine if other water rights are injured. Aurora Water, which has sought leases from the Arkansas River basin, is supporting the legislation, [HB13-1013: Protect Water Right Ownership Rights]. Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-­Sterling, and Rep. Randy Fischer, D­-Fort Collins, are co­sponsors of the bill. Sen. Angela Giron, D-­Pueblo, is listed as the Senate sponsor. No vote was taken on the bill during the committee meeting, in order to allow changes to be made.

Another bill, [SB13-074: Irrigation Water Right Historical Use Acreage], passed the Senate ag committee on a 4-­1 vote last week. The bill attempts to clear up ambiguities in pre­-1937 agricultural water rights by allowing the maximum amount of land irrigated during the first 50 years to be claimed as historical usage. The Colorado Water Congress recently voted to oppose the bill because it does not take into account other deliberations water courts used to determine rights. It could expand the amount of acreage claimed in some cases.

A third bill, [SB13-019: Promote Water Conservation], is sponsored by Sen. Gail Schwartz, D­-Snowmass Village, and seeks to provide more incentives for water conservation by easing the requirements to use the water or lose the right. It has not been heard in committee.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Six weeks into the session, water concerns are emerging among the biggest issues lawmakers are addressing. “The number of water-related bills tends to be inversely proportional to the amount of snowpack we have,” said Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins. “A lot of people are concerned about the drought coming up, anticipating we’ll be in another year of severe drought.”

Fischer, who is chairman of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, is sponsoring or co-sponsoring at least seven bills that address water supply, irrigation, water conservation or a combination of those issues. Most have quickly gained traction in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

A bipartisan bill Fischer is working on with the previous GOP chairman of Fischer’s committee, Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, would allow farmers to share their water with cities and towns through temporary water exchanges. The bill, [House Bill 13-1130: Reapprove Interruptible Water Supply Agreements], would allow farmers to share their water with businesses and cities without losing the right to use it later, Fischer said…

Fischer said lawmakers were waiting for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to approve new rules on groundwater testing around oil and gas wells and a new regulation requiring a 500 buffer zone between an oil well and the nearest building. Those rules have now been approved, and oil and gas-related legislation will likely be introduced soon, Fischer said…

Lawmakers are coordinating to write legislation addressing local control of oil and gas permitting and resolving a conflict between that local control and state law that requires oil and gas to be regulated only at the state level, [Fischer] said.

A bill likely to be introduced soon will propose increases in penalties for oil and gas companies that spill their products, he said. Another bill may propose additional studies looking into the affects of oil and gas development on public health…

Fischer said he plans to sponsor a bill that will propose a renewable thermal standard similar to the state’s renewable standards for electricity generation. “There is no incentive for people to use ground-source heat pumps for heating and cooling,” he said.

More legislative news from the Coloradoan:

Bills on the move

Senate Bill 19: Promoting water conservation
Allows farmers to reduce the water they consume without losing their water right. Currently, farmers have to use all the water they’re entitled to, or risk losing the right to some of that water.
Northern Colorado sponsors: Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins.
Status: Assigned to Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

Senate Bill 41: Preserves water supplies for drought
Reverses a Colorado Supreme Court decision declaring that storing water in reservoirs to prepare for wildfire and drought are not sufficient for water rights owners to keep the right to that water without emptying reservoirs and putting the water to “beneficial use.”
Northern Colorado sponsors: Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling.
Status: Passed Senate, introduced in House.

Senate Bill 70: Alternative fuels for state fleet vehicles
State fleet vehicles are currently required to be fueled by compressed natural gas. The bill would allow the purchase of other vehicles that run on other cost-effective alternative fuels.
Northern Colorado sponsors: Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins; Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley.
Status: Passed Senate.

Senate Bill 110: Emergency wildfire funds
Creates a wildland fire cost recovery fund in the Colorado Treasury.
Northern Colorado sponsors: Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud; Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins; Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley.
Status: Signed into law.

House Bill 1044: Allowing use of graywater
Allows the state to determine how residential and commercial wastewater that is considered “graywater” can be put to beneficial use as a water conservation measure.
Northern Colorado sponsor: Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins.
Status: Passed House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee and referred to House Appropriations Committee.

House Bill 1091: Air quality testing for diesel fleet vehicles
Allows the state to write new rules for air quality testing regarding heavy-duty diesel fleet vehicle owners who can prove excellent maintenance of their fleet.
Northern Colorado sponsors: Sen. John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins; Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley.
Status: Passed House Transportation Committee and referred to House floor.

House Bill 1130: Water supply agreements between farmers and cities
Allows farmers to share water through temporary exchanges with municipal and industrial water users.
Northern Colorado sponsors: Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins and Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling.
Status: In discussion in House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee.

House Bill 1191: Regulations for wastewater treatment plants
Allows state public health officials to award grants to cities and towns for waste water treatment plant improvements.
Northern Colorado sponsor: Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins.
Status: Passed House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee and referred to House Appropriations Committee.

Senate Bill 142: Ceding federal lands
Bill would require the United States government to transfer title to about 23 million acres of national forests and other “agricultural” public lands to the state of Colorado.
Northern Colorado sponsors: Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley; Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins
Status: Passed in Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee; awaits Senate vote.

House Bill 1122: Energy, jobs and higher education act
Would create “incentive” oil and gas wells, exempting them from severance taxes for two years before severance tax collection resumes and is used for a “college opportunity fund.”
Northern Colorado sponsors: Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling; Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor.
Status: Died in committee

House Bill 1128: Excluding counties from vehicle emissions tests
Would allow county commissioners to exclude all or part of a county from Colorado’s motor vehicle emissions testing program if that part of the county meets ambient air quality standards.
Northern Colorado sponsors: Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland; Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor; Rep. Steve Humphrey, R-Severance; Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud; Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins.
Status: Died in committee

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.


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