Colorado River Basin: ‘Mirror River // source to sea in 3 minutes’ — Will Stauffer-Norris

February 25, 2013

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Check out this time-lapse video of his journey down the Green River and the Colorado River from Will Stauffer-Norris. You see the river from his viewpoint, over the bow of his kayak.


NWS Boulder office: Snowfall analysis map for the snow event through 7 AM today #codrought #cowx

February 25, 2013

Forecast news: Stormtrack to stay over southern Colorado for a bit, chance of snowfall tomorrow #codrought #cowx

February 25, 2013

Snowpack news: Snowfall totals for Denver and Northern Colorado from the NWS Boulder office #codrought #cowx

February 25, 2013

Click here for the snowfall list from the NWS Boulder office.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Sarah Jane Kyle):

It’s beginning to look a lot like winter in Fort Collins. The National Weather Service reported 14 inches of snow in some parts of Fort Collins on Sunday…

National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Kalina said the storm dumped 7 inches of snow in parts of Denver by late Sunday morning, and more is expected through Sunday night. Some areas in the foothills west of Denver received 19 inches to 21 inches of snow, and Kalina said some parts of Fort Collins have reported 14 inches.

Photo sideshow from The Denver Post.

From The Greeley Tribune (Analisa Romano):

Snowfall tapered off in the evening after falling the previous night to total more than 5 inches in Greeley, with little more precipitation expected through the night, according to meteorologists. Weld County and Greeley officials said no other major crashes were reported on Sunday, although both entities went on accident alert, meaning enough minor crashes occurred that they didn’t have the resources to deploy officers to those that were not serious. They reported road conditions as icy and snowpacked, with poor visibility throughout the county.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Ryan Severance):

Another quick-moving snowstorm swept through Pueblo on Sunday, bringing more much-needed moisture to the area. According to the National Weather Service, Pueblo received two inches of snow at the Pueblo Memorial Airport and as much as three inches in other parts of town. The snow made a nice blanket over trees and grass, but didn’t accumulate much on the roads and left them mainly wet. Wind gusts got all the way up to 39 mph in the afternoon, and the longest sustained wind gust of the day was 32 mph, according to the NWS.

Both Walsenburg and Canon City received an inch of snow. In Wetmore, snow accumulations were measured at four inches. Beulah and Rye received the most snow with five and six inches, respectively.

“We were talking in the order of Pueblo getting two to four inches of snow, so this is about what we expected,” Randy Gray, with the NWS, said.


SB13-181: Water Conservation Bd Construction Fund Projects moves out of committee, would fund Chatfield reallocation

February 25, 2013

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From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

A water development project of huge interest to local farmers got a big boost Thursday, after it had endured setbacks in recent weeks when a couple of participants backed out. The Colorado Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee moved forward a bill that supports $70 million in water projects, with about $28 million of that going toward the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project, according to a news release from Senate Majority Whip Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass, who introduced the bill. The measure, [Senate Bill 13-181: Water Conservation Bd Construction Fund Projects] will go to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

The Central Colorado Water Conservancy District in Greeley, which provides augmentation water to more than 100,000 acres of irrigated farm ground in the area, is one of 13 water-providers participating in the proposed Chatfield project. The endeavor would raise the Denver-area lake by as much as 12 feet, and, in doing so, would provide an additional 2,849 acre-feet of water to some of Central’s users.

The $184-million Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project wouldn’t provide immediate help for local farmers, who battled drought last year and are potentially facing another round in the upcoming growing season. But local farmers say they need to secure future water supplies quickly, because the cities around them are growing and are increasing their own water needs.
Central Water and the farmers within its boundaries have long been dependant on leasing excess water from local cities, but those supplies will soon be limited, and are already becoming more expensive. Augmentation water is needed to make up for depletions to the aquifer and surrounding surface flows caused by pumping water out of the ground.

In addition to battling cities for supplies, the additional augmentation water is needed since many of the wells in Central Water’s boundaries were either curtailed or shut down in 2006, when the state made augmentation requirements more stringent. Some farmers haven’t been able to use their wells since then because they haven’t had the necessary amount of augmentation water to do so. Randy Ray, executive director for Central Water, said that, if S.B. 181 goes through, it could speed up the Chatfield project by at least several months. Ray said he expects the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project to get federal approval by the end of 2013, meaning participants can go forward with needed mitigation efforts.

Before additional water can be stored at Chatfield Reservoir, facilities at the state park must be relocated to higher ground and new wildlife habitats must be created, along with other measures. Without the new bill freeing up state funding, the water-providers participating in the proposed project wouldn’t have enough dollars to get going on those mitigation efforts, Ray said.

Two water providers — Aurora Water and the Roxborough Water and Sanitation District — recently backed out of the Chatfield project to pursue other projects. Ray described that development as a “setback.” They had accounted for about 20 percent of the funding for the project. But if the bill can pass this year and make state funds available, mitigation efforts at Chatfield can take place as soon as federal approval comes.

Without the state funds, though, there’s uncertainty about whether there would be enough dollars available, and the project, even with federal approval, would be at a standstill until state funding was available later in 2014, or maybe even farther down the road. According to the news release from Schwartz, the 15 water projects in the bill would get under way without taking money from the General Fund. The funds will come from the state’s Construction Fund and the Severance Tax Trust Fund Perpetual Base Account, both of which include sustainable revolving loan programs. The Construction Fund has helped nearly 440 water projects get going since 1971, according to Schwartz.

In November, voters in the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District approved a pair of water measures, including a $60 million bond issue that would help pay for Central Water’s portion of the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project, along with other endeavors. Central Water officials also are considering the construction of gravel pits for an additional 8,000- 9,000 acre-feet of storage, and buying 1,000 acre-feet of senior water rights with the approved bonds.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.


Big Thompson Watershed Forum meeting in Greeley Thursday

February 25, 2013

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From The Greeley Tribune:

The Big Thompson Watershed Forum will have its meeting Thursday in Greeley. The meeting, titled “Critical Surface Water Issues — 2013,” will focus on agriculture water sharing and development, wildfire effects on water quality and watershed management, fracking and other issues.

The Big Thompson River Watershed, an area encompassing more than 900 square miles, provides drinking water to numerous cities in northern Colorado including Greeley, Estes Park, Fort Collins and Loveland, and is used for commercial, agricultural, recreation, and wildlife habitat purposes.

Of the 12 presenters on hand, Patricia N. Limerick — professor of history at the University of Colorado and faculty director and chairwoman of the Center for the American West — will be the keynote speaker.

The meeting will take place from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Island Grove Regional Park’s Events Center, 425 N. 15th Ave.

The cost to attend the meeting is $40 and includes breakfast, snacks and lunch. Cash or check will be accepted at the door.

For more information, go to http://www.btwatershed.org/, or contact Zack Shelley at (970) 613-6163 or zshelley@btwatershed.org.

More Big Thompson Watershed coverage here.


Durango: The city is becoming proactive in preventing wastewater spills

February 25, 2013

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Here’s an in-depth report about Durango’s sewer system, from Jim Haug writing for The Durango Herald. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

The Colorado Water Quality Control Division has ordered the city to come up with an emergency-response plan, a sewer-maintenance program and a training program.

The city had no such formalized plans in place as late as four months ago, said Steve Salka, the new utilities director.

“The state was leading us in a direction, but I knew we needed an emergency action plan,” he said. “I knew we needed a spill-response plan. I knew we needed a maintenance plan. I just put it all together (and sent it to the state).”

The city has struck a tentative agreement to spend $84,000 on backup generators for its sewer lift stations to bring it into compliance.

More infrastructure coverage here.


Pitkin County gets another 60 days to settle objectors to their Roaring Fork RICD application

February 25, 2013

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From the Aspen Daily News (Brent Gardner-Smith):

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), two major upstream diverters and three billionaires with property near Aspen have active statements of opposition on file against the county’s proposal.

On Feb. 1, Judge James B. Boyd of Division 5 water court in Glenwood Springs gave the parties in the case another 60 days to settle.

The county is seeking the right to run between 240 and 1,350 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water over two rock and concrete structures it plans to build in the river, at a cost of about $1 million, which includes a stairway to access the feature. The new water right would be what’s known as a “recreational in-channel diversion,” or RICD, which is a program that allows governments to obtain a water right for recreational purposes. It can have the added benefit of keeping more water in a river.

The structures would form two waves for kayakers and other boaters in the Fork, just across Two Rivers Road from the entrance to the Elk Run neighborhood.

The county so far has come to terms with three of the 14 parties that originally filed statements of opposition in the case — the city of Aspen, the Basalt Water Conservancy District and the Starwood Metropolitan District.

Of the remaining 11 entities, at least three are controlled by billionaires who own property upstream of the proposed “Pitkin County River Park.”

Bill Koch (via Elk Mountain Lodge LLC) and Penny Pritzker (via PT Ranch Barn LLC) each own property along Castle Creek, and Ed Bass (via Mountain Valley Cabin LLC) owns property on the banks of the upper Roaring Fork.

Another opposing entity is GRE II LLC, which is controlled by David Gerstenhaber of Argonaut Capital Management, a New York hedge fund. GRE II owns 37 acres of land, with water rights, on Star Mesa above McLain Flats Road.

Statements of opposition in water court are typically formulaic and it is not easy to discern a party’s true intent in filing them. Some parties file statements simply to monitor changes in a case…

The latest draft proposal from the county has the water right stepping up and then back down across a 142-day runoff season.

Beginning on April 15, the water right would run for 33 days at 240 cfs, another 24 days at 380 cfs, and then for 15 days at 1,530 cfs, ending June 25.

Then the flows step down from the peak — with 56 days flowing at 380 cfs and another 14 days at 240 cfs, ending Labor Day.

More Roaring Fork Watershed coverage here.


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