Voters approve the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District’s bond issue

November 7, 2012

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From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

Randy Ray was “pumped” after voters of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District overwhelmingly approved a pair of water measures he says will “significantly” help farmers.

With votes cast by about 87 percent of Weld County’s eligible, active voters, 66.25 percent of those who live in Central’s boundaries had checked “yes” on Measure 4A. Measure 4A approves a $60 million bond issue to pay for three of Central’s endeavors. “This is so huge for us,” said Ray, executive director of Central.

Central, based in Greeley, is one of 15 water providers looking to take part in the proposed Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project, a $184 million undertaking that would provide an additional 2,849 acre­feet of water to some of Central’s users. Central Water officials also are considering the construction of gravel pits for an additional 8,000­9,000 acre­feet of storage, and buying 1,000 acre­feet of senior water rights with the bonds. Taxpayers within Central Water’s boundaries will now pay an additional $1.13 each month per $100,000 in property value for the next 25 years, Central officials estimate.

About 65 percent of Central voters approved Measure 4B, which allows Central’s Groundwater Management Sub­district to accept state and federal grant funding to construct projects.

Central’s district is mostly in Weld County, but its boundaries also stretch into Adams and Morgan counties. Central voters in Morgan County supported 4A by a 25­16 margin, and 4B by a 17­6 margin. Numbers for Adams County alone on the issues were not available as of press time.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here.


Vote!

November 6, 2012

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Please remember to vote today — if you haven’t already voted early — put up with the delays, have your voice heard! Send me email if you want some coaching about the issues or candidates. :-)


The Central Colorado Water Conservancy District is asking voters to approve a $60 million water bond issue

October 30, 2012

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From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

Fall is always a hectic time of the year for Randy Knutson, but the LaSalle­area farmer has spent more time away from home during this harvesting season than probably any other.
In addition to rounding up matured crops in his fields and also managing operations for Zabka Farms near Greeley, Knutson in recent weeks has been trekking across the area to convince fellow producers and other residents that approving a $60 million bond issue is in their best interest.

His long hours are well worth it, as far as he’s concerned.

Without the bond issue and the water that would be purchased with the millions of dollars, harvests of future autumns could be minimal in Weld County, he says, with the local economy suffering as a result.

Knutson and others are asking taxpayers of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District to approve Measure 4A — the $60 million bond issue that would be used for more water storage and buying water rights.

Residents in Central’s district will vote on that measure as part of next week’s election. “Without the water, you’re going to see agriculture go away in Weld County,” said Knutson, who serves on the board of directors for Central and serves as chairman of the voluntary Yes For Water group that’s been promoting and raising funds for Measure 4A. “And now is the time we need to be going out to get the water we need.”

Central oversees two subdistricts that provide augmentation water to farmers in the LaSalle and Gilcrest areas and other parts of southern Weld County. The two subdistricts — the Groundwater Management Subdistrict (GMS) and the Well Augmentation Subdistrict (WAS) — also stretch into Adams and Morgan counties.

Augmentation water is needed to make up for depletions to the aquifer caused by pumping water out of the ground. All together, Central’s two subdistricts provide augmentation water for more than 100,000 acres of irrigated farmground, according to Randy Ray, executive director of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District. The additional augmentation water is needed since many of the wells in Central’s subdistricts were either curtailed or shut down back in 2006, when the state determined the pumping of those wells was depleting stream flows in the South Platte River Basin. As part of those decisions, the state made augmentation requirements more stringent. Many 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.

Knutson, himself, has three wells he still can’t use. Those wells are needed in dry years like this one, when flows in the rivers are low, bringing little water to irrigation ditches, Knutson said.

Also, Knutson said, cities in the region are growing rapidly and need more water, causing supplies to get tighter and more much expensive. For example, one unit of water from the Colorado­Big Thompson project, one of the largest water projects in the region that supplies supplemental water for municipal and agricultural uses all over northern Colorado, now costs about $10,000. It was only about $7,500 three years ago, according to Brian Werner, a spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

“It’s only gong to get more expensive the longer we wait,” Knutson said. Knutson, Ray and others say the additional water and the bond measure are needed because Central Water relies heavily on leased water from cities to supply its farmers, and, as Front Range cities grow, those cities will lease out less water.

The $60 million in bonds would pay for three of Central Water’s endeavors.

The district is one of 15 water providers looking to take part in the proposed Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project, a $184 million undertaking that would raise the Denver­area lake by as much as 12 feet and provide an additional 2,849 acre­feet of water to Central Water. Central Water officials also are considering the construction of gravel pits for an additional 8,000­9,000 acre­feet of storage, and buying 1,000 acre­feet of senior water rights.

If the bond measure is approved, taxpayers within Central Water’s boundaries would pay an additional $1.13 each month per $100,000 in property value for the next 25 years, Knutson said.

The district recently sent out a survey to about 18,000 residents, which it said showed about 75 percent of respondents favored the bond issue. The district encompasses nearly 20,000 households.

There’s no organized group opposing the project, but some have questioned why they need to pay additional taxes for water they couldn’t personally use.

“To be completely honest, I still don’t know which way I’m going to vote,” said Dave Dechant, a Weld County farmer.

Public meetings on the bond issue held this summer grew heated at times.

In response to those residents, Ray said he hopes they’ll still support the project, since the additional water would go toward strengthening the local agriculture economy, which benefits the entire area. Ray said Central Water also might lease some of the water to residential or other users.

Some who would benefit directly from the additional water also expressed frustration at the meetings because they’ve been paying taxes to the district for several years and have yet to see any additional water. Ray said those previous taxes have paid for the legal and engineering fees that have now given Central rights to 68,000 acre­feet of additional water.

The $60 million bond issue would pay for the infrastructure to finally put some of those water rights to use, Ray explained.

More 2012 Colorado November election coverage here.


Where do the Presidential candidates stand on funding for infrastructure?

October 8, 2012

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From the Associated Press (Jason Keyser) via The Denver Post:

President Barack Obama has favored stimulus-style infrastructure spending plans, talking up highway, bridge and rail repairs as job creators, and pushed for innovations like high-speed rail and a national infrastructure bank to finance projects with the help of private capital. But Republican opposition to increased spending and taxes has blunted many such plans.

Mitt Romney favors less involvement by the federal government in infrastructure, preferring to let states lead the way. Romney shuns the idea that public-works spending is a good way to jumpstart the economy, saying decisions on worthy projects should be based on need and potential returns. Romney also wants to privatize Amtrak by ending federal subsidies for the money-losing passenger rail system. He’s OK with borrowing to pay for megaprojects if there’s a revenue stream to pay the money back, like tolls or port fees.

More infrastructure coverage here and here.


I’ll be live-blogging the Presidential debate tonight on the Denver Post website

October 3, 2012

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Update: Here’s the link where our posts will show up: http://www.denverpost.com/politics

The Denver Post has recruited bloggers to cover the debate. My sources tell me that there will be a link from the Post home page later today. Please come by while you’re watching the debate.

I believe that the Twitter hashtag for tonight is #denverdebate. You can also check out the hashtag #zingerwatch.

More 2012 Colorado November Election coverage here.


2012 Colorado November election: 3rd District candidates Pace and Tipton square off at the Club 20 summer meeting

September 9, 2012

Click here to read The Denver Post (Lynn Bartels) recap.

Joe Hanel (@joehanel) — who writes for The Durango Herald — live-Tweeted from the meeting using Twitter hashtag #copolitics.

More 2012 Colorado November election coverage here.


Answers to the ‘Top American Science Questions’ from President Obama and Mitt Romney

September 4, 2012

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General scientific knowledge is not the purview of Coyote Gulch. We try to confine ourselves to Colorado water issues, including the entire Colorado River Basin, with little opinion or editorializing. However, the presidential candidates’ answers to the questions posed by ScienceDebate.org are important. The collapse of whole ecosystems is imminent with climate change yet our political process disallows discussion of the science. Instead we have polarized factions arguing issues that have been largely settled in the science community. Shameful.

Here’s a breath of fresh air. Both candidates this year have answered the Top American Science questions for 2012. Click through and read them for yourself. Here’s an excerpt:

[ScienceDebate.org Question] 2. Climate Change. The Earth’s climate is changing and there is concern about the potentially adverse effects of these changes on life on the planet. What is your position on cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and other policies proposed to address global climate change—and what steps can we take to improve our ability to tackle challenges like climate change that cross national boundaries?

We’ll let President Obama go first:

Climate change is the one of the biggest issues of this generation, and we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits. Since taking office I have established historic standards limiting greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicles for the first time in history. My administration has made unprecedented investments in clean energy, proposed the first-ever carbon pollution limits for new fossil-fuel-fired power plants and reduced carbon emissions within the Federal Government. Since I took office, the U.S. is importing an average of 3 million fewer barrels of oil every day, and our dependence on foreign oil is at a 20-year low. We are also showing international leadership on climate change, reaching historic agreements to set emission limits in unison with all major developed and developing nations. There is still more to be done to address this global problem. I will continue efforts to reduce our dependence on oil and lower our greenhouse gas emissions while creating an economy built to last.

And now, challenger Mitt Romney’s answer:

I am not a scientist myself, but my best assessment of the data is that the world is getting warmer, that human activity contributes to that warming, and that policymakers should therefore consider the risk of negative consequences. However, there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the issue — on the extent of the warming, the extent of the human contribution, and the severity of the risk — and I believe we must support continued debate and investigation within the scientific community.

Ultimately, the science is an input to the public policy decision; it does not dictate a particular policy response. President Obama has taken the view that if global warming is occurring, the American response must be to slash carbon dioxide emissions by imposing enormous costs on the U.S. economy. First he tried a massive cap-and-trade bill that would have devastated U.S. industry. When that approach was rejected by Congress, he declared his intention to pursue the same course on his own and proceeded through his EPA to impose rules that will bankrupt the coal industry.

Nowhere along the way has the President indicated what actual results his approach would achieve — and with good reason. The reality is that the problem is called Global Warming, not America Warming. China long ago passed America as the leading emitter of greenhouse gases. Developed world emissions have leveled off while developing world emissions continue to grow rapidly, and developing nations have no interest in accepting economic constraints to change that dynamic. In this context, the primary effect of unilateral action by the U.S. to impose costs on its own emissions will be to shift industrial activity overseas to nations whose industrial processes are more emissions-intensive and less environmentally friendly. That result may make environmentalists feel better, but it will not better the environment.

So I oppose steps like a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system that would handicap the American economy and drive manufacturing jobs away, all without actually addressing the underlying problem. Economic growth and technological innovation, not economy-suppressing regulation, is the key to environmental protection in the long run. So I believe we should pursue what I call a “No Regrets” policy — steps that will lead to lower emissions, but that will benefit America regardless of whether the risks of global warming materialize and regardless of whether other nations take effective action.

For instance, I support robust government funding for research on efficient, low-emissions technologies that will maintain American leadership in emerging industries. And I believe the federal government must significantly streamline the regulatory framework for the deployment of new energy technologies, including a new wave of investment in nuclear power. These steps will strengthen American industry, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and produce the economically-attractive technologies that developing nations must have access to if they are to achieve the reductions in their own emissions that will be necessary to address what is a global issue.

So there you have it. Click through and enjoy the rest of the answers. I also want to thank Mr. Romney for his answer, it will not sit well with his base.

Meanwhile, here’s an editorial from The Denver Post on the subject. Here’s and excerpt:

According to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, the ice cap has shrunk to a record extent and likely will continue to do so. An area of ice equivalent to the size of South Carolina is melting each day. That’s about twice the rate observed since 1979.

“As far as the larger scale, when you’re heating up a region of the world, compared to what it used to be, you’re changing the balance of the climate system,” NSIDC research scientist Walt Meier said during a conference call. “Now, your air conditioner is losing coolant, so to speak. It’s not as efficient as it used to be.”

It’s bad news, and it deserves more attention than it has gotten.

Earlier this month, a study co-authored by NASA climate scientist James Hansen concluded that a jump in the number of very hot summers can only be attributable to human-caused global warming.

Hansen linked several severe heat waves and droughts to global warming via statistical analysis.

In an op-ed piece that appeared in The Washington Post, Hansen wrote: “There is still time to act and avoid a worsening climate, but we are wasting precious time.”


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