Colorado River District glossary of water terms

June 27, 2014


Click here for their list from “absolute water right” to “xeriscape.”

Runoff/snowpack news: Colorado has pretty much melted out

June 27, 2014

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of snowpack data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. There was a little snowpack showing in the northern basins yesterday, otherwise Colorado is pretty much melted out for the water year. Bring on the North American Monsoon.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

We are getting close to full at Ruedi Reservoir. As a result, we will be bumping up the release from the dam to the Fryingpan River by 50 cfs tomorrow evening before the weekend. That will put the flow past the Ruedi Dam gage at about 232 cfs. This includes the contributions of the Rocky Fork. The reason for the change is we are slowing the rate of rise in the reservoir as we continue to balance inflows and outflows.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Last weekend, releases from Green Mountain Dam dropped to 700 cfs due to some work at the power plant. That work has completed and this week we have seen releases from the dam to the Lower Blue River start to go back up. Changes [June 27] will bump releases up some more. The first change will be at 8:00 a.m. upping releases from 850 cfs to 925 cfs. The second change will be at 10:00 a.m. upping releases from 925 to 1000 cfs. As always, please let me know if you have any related questions.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Just a quick update before the morning [June 26]: due to the recent rain, we’ve seen rain inflows to the Big Thompson River come up slightly. As a result, the outflow through Olympus Dam to the canyon has also come up a bit.

That means flows through the dam to the canyon will go up about 45 cfs, bringing total outflows to just 170 cfs by midnight tonight. The 170 cfs will likely stay in place through tomorrow, maybe a little longer.

We have also seen a shift in water demands off of the Charles Hansen Feeder Canal, which flows from Flatiron to Horsetooth Reservoir, serving water users along the way. This means a little more water will be returned to the Big Thompson River, after generating power on the Colorado-Big Thompson Project’s southern power arm. As a result, the water down the concrete chute will bump up from around 100 cfs to about 160 cfs.

We are making these changes late tonight so they will be noticeable to those watching the river closely by morning [June 26].

Nine Projects Receive $1.29 Million from Reclamation for Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Feasibility Studies

June 26, 2014

Wastewater Treatment Process

Wastewater Treatment Process

Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

Bureau of Reclamation Acting Commissioner Lowell Pimley announced that Reclamation will provide $1.29 million to nine projects for Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Feasibility Studies. These nine projects are located in California, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.
“Planning and preparation are essential for communities looking to meet their growing water needs,” Pimley said. “This funding will help communities gather critical information in assessing whether these water recycling and reuse projects can meet their future water needs.”

The first funding group will receive up to $150,000 and studies must be completed within 18 months. The six selected projects in this group are:

  • Pitkin County Clean Water Effluent Re-Use Feasibility Study, Pitkin County (Colorado), $149,500 [ed. emphasis mine]
  • Providing for Santa Fe Basin’s Future Water Supply Needs: A Feasibility Study to Optimize the use of Regional Reclaimed Wastewater, City of Santa Fe (New Mexico), $132,000
  • Port Isabel Water Reclamation Facility, Laguna Madre Water District (Texas), $150,000
  • Feasibility Study of Augmenting Regional Water Supply System for Tarrant Regional Water District and Wichita Falls with Impaired Groundwater Supplies, Tarrant Regional Water District (Texas), $150,000
  • Feasibility Study of Industrial Water Management and Reclamation for the Permian Basin, Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority (Texas), $150,000
  • Collection, Storage, Recharge and Recovery of Conserved Source Waters for Advanced Purified Treatment of Reclaimed Water, El Paso Water Utilities-Public Service Board (Texas), $150,000
  • The second funding group will receive up to $450,000 (up to $150,000 per year) and studies must be completed within 36 months. The three selected projects in this group are:

  • San Juan Groundwater Basin Recharge, Reclamation and Reuse Feasibility Study, Santa Margarita Water District (California), $225,000
  • Indirect Potable Reuse Project Feasibility Study, Eastern Municipal Water District (California), $450,000
  • The Integrated Water and Power Project: A Drought-Proof Water Supply for Texas, Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (Texas), $450,000
  • Applicants must provide at least 50 percent non-federal cost-shared funding for the feasibility study. To view a complete description of all the projects, please visit:

    The Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program focuses on identifying and investigating opportunities to reclaim and reuse wastewater and naturally impaired ground and surface water in the 17 Western states and Hawaii. It has the potential to provide communities with a new source of clean water while promoting water and energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. Through Title XVI projects, Reclamation has conserved nearly 390,000 acre-feet of water in 2013 – enough to supply 1.5 million people with water for one year.

    WaterSMART is the U.S. Department of the Interior’s sustainable water initiative that uses the best available science to improve water conservation and help water resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between supply and demand. Since its establishment in 2010, WaterSMART has provided about $200 million in competitively awarded funding to non-federal partners, including tribes, water districts, municipalities and universities through WaterSMART Grants and the Title XVI Program. Learn more at

    More infrastructure coverage here.

    Take a boat tour on the first National Water Trail in the Southwest — Black Canyon Water Trail #ColoradoRiver

    June 26, 2014
    Colorado River, Black Canyon back in the day, site of Hoover Dam

    Colorado River, Black Canyon back in the day, site of Hoover Dam

    From the Las Vegas Review-Journal (Henry Brean):

    The Black Canyon Water Trail, as it is now known, takes in a 30-mile stretch of the Colorado from the downstream side of Hoover Dam to the mouth of Eldorado Canyon, south of Boulder City.

    It is the first such designation of a boating trail in the Southwest and the first to traverse a desert.

    In announcing the designation Tuesday, Jewell said the scenic route through Black Canyon joins “a distinctive national network of exemplary water trails” that have won recognition since 2012 as part of a federal initiative to encourage tourism and stewardship.

    The stretch of river is already managed by the National Park Service as part of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

    More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

    Jackson Gulch Reservoir: “The bureau used to be a friend. Not anymore.” — Dee Graf

    June 26, 2014

    Jackson Gulch Dam photo via USBR

    Jackson Gulch Dam photo via USBR

    From The Mancos Times (Mary Shinn):

    The Mancos Water Conservancy District board on Thursday weighed the consequences of taking ownership of Jackson Gulch Reservoir, the dam, the canal system and the land it sits on from the federal government.

    If the district worked with the Bureau of Reclamation to take ownership, the district would have to take over all the contracting and inspections…

    The Bureau of Reclamation currently budgets $160,000 a year to manage the irrigation project, and and $150,000 a year for recreational use of the lake.

    Kennedy estimates that if the district did all the work the bureau does for irrigation and water management, it would cost $20,000 to $40,000 because the district wouldn’t have as much administrative overhead. The district doesn’t plan to cover any of Mancos’ state parks expenses if the board pursues the transfer of ownership.

    A major question the board members tried to address at the Thursday workshop was: What value does the Bureau of Reclamation add to the project?

    They determined it isn’t a reliable source of funding…

    If the district took ownership of the project, it would still be subject to some state inspections for dam safety.

    Currently, the Bureau of Reclamation does regular inspections, but the district is responsible for maintenance or replacement. For example, the district paid $3 million for the recent rehabilitation project.

    There is one exception to the maintenance rule. The Bureau of Reclamation would step in if the dam started to experience a failure. But the agency would also send the district a bill for half the cost, and it would be due in three years…

    At an initial meeting about the transfer with James Hess, a bureau representative from Washington, Hess said the transfer process can take years.

    Only 27 other water projects in the nation have been fully transferred from the federal government to a local organization.

    More Jackson Gulch Reservoir coverage here.

    COGCC halts activity at injection well; seeks additional review

    June 26, 2014

    Deep injection well

    Deep injection well

    Here’s the release from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (Todd Hartman/Matt Lepore):

    The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission this week directed High Sierra Water Services to stop disposing wastewater into one of its Weld County injection wells.

    The company agreed to a 20-day halt to wastewater injection as a cautionary step the COGCC believes necessary to gather and further analyze more information to determine whether injection at the site is tied to recent seismic activity recorded within the general vicinity of the well.

    Ongoing monitoring by a team of University of Colorado seismologists has picked up additional evidence of low-level seismic activity near the injection site, including a 2.6-magnitude event Monday afternoon. The additional data comes after a 3.4 magnitude earthquake shook the Greeley area May 31.

    “In light of the findings of CU’s team, we think it’s important we review additional data, bring in additional expertise and closely review the history of injection at this site in order to more fully understand any potential link to seismicity and use of this disposal well,” said COGCC director Matt Lepore.

    The COGCC will undertake several actions over the shutdown period to include: evaluation of baseline, historical seismic activity; continued coordination with the CU team; coordination with the U.S. Geological Survey and Colorado Geological Survey; evaluation of other disposal wells in the area; and a detailed review of data associated with the well in question, including further examination of injection rates, pressures and volumes.

    The company immediately agreed to COGCC’s request, and shut the well down on Monday.

    From The Greeley Tribune:

    Noble Energy continued on Monday to clean up the oil spill it located Friday along the Poudre River near Windsor, according to a news release from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

    Noble began to dismantle a damaged tank battery Monday in preparation for soil removal, according to the release, after about 173 barrels — or about 7,500 gallons — of crude oil were found to have spilled from the tank while the Poudre River was flooding.

    On Saturday, Noble established site security, repaired the access road and had a crew of approximately 30 people using absorbent pads to clean up visible residual oil, according to the release. Soil samples were collected along the path of the release and submitted for laboratory analysis, according to the release, and the results of that analysis are still pending.

    Visual observations by Noble along the flow path indicated the oil did not seep deep into the soil, so removal of the soil was ruled out as the main way to clean up the spill, according to the release.

    Instead, a product known as Petro Green was applied to help enhance the degradation of any remaining hydrocarbons, according to the release.

    Noble also had a consultant perform a biological study on the area, according to the release, and it was determined no wildlife were impacted by the spill.

    Protect your pooch from harmful algal blooms

    June 26, 2014


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