Conservation: Broken Tee Golf Course at Englewood saves 28% in 2014

October 22, 2014
Broken Tee Golf Course via Golf Digest

Broken Tee Golf Course via Golf Digest

From the Englewood Herald:

High-end irrigation control plus cool, moist conditions helped the Broken Tee Golf Course at Englewood reduce annual water use by 28 percent this year.

Through Sept. 30, the computer-controlled irrigation system had applied about 62.5 million gallons of water to the course. That usage was down almost 20 million gallons from the 2013 total of about 86.2 million.

No treated water was used on the golf course. The irrigation water came from the South Platte River, the lakes on the course and wells on the course property.

More conservation coverage here.


Greeley has drafted an updated Water Conservation Plan and would like your feedback

October 16, 2014


“Right now the firm yield of Windy Gap is zero” — Brian Werner #ColoradoRiver

October 15, 2014

Site of proposed Chimney Hollow Reservoir -- Windy Gap Firming Project via the Longmont Times-Call

Site of proposed Chimney Hollow Reservoir — Windy Gap Firming Project via the Longmont Times-Call


From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Hank Shell):

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and the Northern Water Municipal Subdistrict have negotiated a contract that would allow the subdistrict to use excess capacity in the Colorado-Big Thompson Project for the Windy Gap Project and future Windy Gap Firming Project, according to a press release. A 30-day public comment period on the contract opened Oct. 8 and will close Nov. 7…

Currently, Windy Gap water rights are in priority during wet years, though paradoxically the C-BT project is often too full to hold excess water. Because the Windy Gap Project has a junior water right, it is often not able to divert water during dry years, when there is available capacity in the C-BT project.

“Right now the firm yield of Windy Gap is zero because there are some years where they can’t get any water out of the project,” said Brian Werner with Northern Water.

The Windy Gap Firming Project proposes construction of Chimney Hollow Reservoir near Carter Lake Reservoir in Larimer County. The added storage capacity would “firm up,” or reinforce the Windy Gap water right during dry years. The contract is needed to use federal infrastructure to firm up the Windy Gap water right.

“This project will make more efficient use of existing water rights,” said Mike Ryan with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, in a prepared statement. “When completed, Windy Gap Firming would provide water storage for 13 municipal providers.”

The Windy Gap project is allowed to divert a maximum of 90,000 acre feet in a single year, and its 10-year running average cannot exceed 65,000 acre feet per year.

The cost for using the excess capacity will be $34 per acre-foot, said Tyler Johnson with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Initial estimates for the Windy Gap Firming Project put the cost at $270 million.

Also up for comment is Senate Document 80, which contains guidelines for project facilities and auxiliary features, and Section 14 Determination Memos, which authorize the Secretary of the Interior to enter into contracts for the exchange or replacement of water, water rights, or electrical energy for the adjustment of water rights.


Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co, Aspen and the #ColoradoRiver District reach deal

October 15, 2014

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

The city of Aspen and Front Range water interests have reached a compromise 20 years in the making that allows more water to be sent east when the spring runoff is plentiful, in exchange for bolstering flows when the Roaring Fork River is running low in the fall. The deal is between the Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co., which operates transbasin diversion tunnels underneath Independence Pass, and the city of Aspen and the Colorado River District, which works to protect water rights on the Western Slope.

The deal, which has its roots in a 1994 water court application from Twin Lakes that sought to increase diversions during the runoff in high-snowpack years. It will leave 40 acre-feet of water in Grizzly Reservoir when Twin Lakes exercises its rights under the 1994 proposal. That water will be stored in the 500-acre-foot reservoir and released into the Roaring Fork for about three weeks in late summer, when seasonal flows are at their lowest. The water must be called for and released in the same year it was stored.

Grizzly Reservoir, located about 8 miles up Lincoln Creek Road near the Continental Divide, is a component of the transbasin-diversion system. A tunnel underneath the reservoir channels water underneath the mountain to the south fork of Lake Creek in the Arkansas River basin, on the other side of the pass.

Additionally, under the deal, the River District will have the right to store 200 acre-feet of water in Grizzly Reservoir and can call for up to 150 acre feet of that water in a year. Importantly, that 200 acre-feet can be stored long-term in the reservoir until it is called for by the River District, which manages water rights across the Western Slope.

Another 600 acre-feet will be provided to the River District for seasonal storage in Twin Lakes Reservoir, also on the east side of Independence Pass. The district will then trade and exchange that water with various entities, which could lead to more water staying on the Western Slope that would otherwise be diverted through other transbasin tunnels.

Twin Lakes diverts an average of 46,000 acre-feet a year from the headwaters of the Roaring Fork and sends it to Colorado Springs and other Front Range cities. The city of Colorado Springs owns 55 percent of the shares in the Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co., entities in Pueblo own 23 percent, entities in Pueblo West own 12 percent, and Aurora owns 5 percent.

Aspen and the River District intend to cooperatively use the stored water in Grizzly Reservoir to boost late-summer flows in the Roaring Fork as it winds through Aspen proper.

Water already flowing
The stretch of the Roaring Fork River below the Salvation Ditch on Stillwater Drive typically runs below environmentally sound flows each year for about eight weeks, according to city officials. And given that this spring saw a high run-off, the three parties to the agreement managed some water this year as if the deal was already signed.

“At the close of the current water year (which ended the last day of September), Twin Lakes started making releases of some of the water stored for the River District, followed by release of the 40 acre-feet, as directed by Aspen and the River District,” Phil Overeynder, a special projects engineer for the city, wrote in an Oct. 3 memo to city council. “These releases had the effect of increasing flows in the Roaring Fork through the Aspen reach by approximately 20 percent and will last for approximately a three-week period at the end of the lowest flow conditions of the year.”

Overeynder added that “both Aspen and the River District believe that this agreement, while not perfect, is of real and meaningful benefit to the Roaring Fork.”

Aspen City Council approved the agreement on its consent calendar during a regular council meeting on Monday. The agreement is on the River District’s Tuesday meeting agenda, and Twin Lakes approved it last month.

The deal still needs to be accepted by Pitkin County and the Salvation Ditch Co. in order to satisfy all of the details of the water court’s 2001 approval of the 1994 water rights application.

Junior and senior rights
In addition to its junior 1994 water right, Twin Lakes also holds a senior 1936 water right that allows it to divert up to 68,000 acre-feet in a single year and up to 570,000 acre-feet in a 10-year period.

Originally, the water diverted by Twin Lakes was used to grow sugar beets to make sugar, but it is now primarily used to meet the needs of people living on the Front Range.

The 1936 water right still has some lingering restrictions in high-water years, according to Kevin Lusk, an engineer with Colorado Springs Utilities who serves as the president of the board of the private Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co. Under its 1936 right, when there is plenty of water in the Arkansas River and the Twin Lakes Reservoir is full, Twin Lakes is not allowed to divert water, even though it is physically there to divert, Lusk explained. So in 1994 it filed in water court for a new water right without the same restrictions so it could divert more water to the east. It was dubbed the “Twin Junior,” water right.

The city of Aspen and the River District objected in court to the “Twin Junior” and the agreement approved Monday is a long-delayed outcome of the case.

Aspen claimed that if Twin Lakes diverted more water in big-water years, the Roaring Fork wouldn’t enjoy the benefits of the high water, including flooding the Stillwater section and replenishing groundwater supplies. That process, the city argued, helps the river in dry times.

“We don’t necessarily agree with the theory behind it,” Lusk said of the city’s claim, but added that Twin Lakes agreed to the deal as part of settlement negotiations.

And since 2014 turned out to be a high-water year, Twin Lakes exercised its right to divert water under its 1994 Twin Junior right, and worked cooperatively with Aspen and the River District to release 40-acre feet of “mitigation water” as described in the pending deal.

The new agreement between the city, Twin Lakes and the River District is in addition to another working arrangement between Twin Lakes and Aspen related to the Fryingpan-Arkansas diversion project, which diverts water from the headwaters of the Fryingpan River.

That agreement provides 3,000 acre-feet of water each year to be released by Twin Lakes into the main stem of the Roaring Fork beneath a dam near Lost Man Campground, normally at a rate of 3 to 4 cubic feet per second.

More Twin Lakes coverage here.


Twenty-five years of exploration: South Platte Forum

October 14, 2014
South Platte River Basin via Wikipedia

South Platte River Basin via Wikipedia

Here’s the release from Colorado State University:

The 25th annual South Platte River Forum will be held Wednesday, Oct. 22, and Thursday, Oct. 23, at the Plaza Event Center, 1850 Industrial Circle, Longmont. The forum, “Water and Wisdom,” will examine issues such as flood impacts on stream restoration, fisheries and hydrology, oil and gas exploration, hydraulic fracturing as well as hydropower, and overviews of South Platte River basin projects. The forum strives to provide an avenue for a timely, multidisciplinary exchange of information and ideas important to resource management in the basin.

The first day of the forum includes several presentations on flood recovery efforts, updates and concerns, as well as a history of floods on the South Platte. The Friends of the South Platte Award will be presented to Patricia J. Rettig, Head Archivist, Water Resources Archive, at Colorado State University Libraries. The keynote luncheon on Oct. 22 will be “Proposed Rule: Definitions of Waters of the U.S.” by Karen Hamilton, Chief of the Aquatic Resource and Accountability Unit, U.S. EPA Region 8. Afternoon sessions will discuss oil and gas exploration and hydraulic fracturing, and water education efforts. The day will conclude with a reception and information on water storage projects in the basin.

The final day of the forum will include a presentation on the Colorado Water Plan by John Stulp, special policy advisor to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on water, followed by presentations on South Platte basin water plans, and a panel focused on water quality concerns. The day will conclude with a luncheon presentation on “At the Confluence: The Poetry of Colorado Water” by Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs, Jr.

Winners of this year’s photo contest will be recognized during the forum and their photographs will be on display.

The South Platte River begins high in the Colorado mountains near Fairplay. It flows through Denver and continues eastward into Nebraska, joining the North Platte River near the town of North Platte, Neb.

The South Platte Forum is sponsored by Deere & Ault Consultants, Inc.,; SP WRAP,; XRI Geophysics; Applegate Group, Inc.; the Consortium for Research and Education on Emerging Contaminants (CREEC); Platte River Recovery Implementation Plan (PRRIP); Riverside Technology; Tetra Tech,and Integral Consulting, Inc. The Forum is organized by Colorado State University Extension, Colorado Water Institute, Aurora Water, Denver Water, Northern Water, Metro Wastewater Reclamation District, Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. EPA, U.S. Geological Survey.

Registration is available at the door for $115 per person. For a schedule of events, visit http://www.southplatteforum.org/schedule. For additional information, contact Jennifer Brown at (402) 960-3670 or Jennifer@southplatteforum.org.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here.


Chatfield Reservoir: Lawsuit Claims “Massive Environmental Damage” From Project — Westword

October 14, 2014
Proposed reallocation pool -- Graphic/USACE

Proposed reallocation pool — Graphic/USACE

From Westword (Alan Prendergast):

As we reported back in 2012, the long-simmering proposal has set off alarm bells among environmentalists, bird fanciers and many park users because it involves flooding more than 500 acres of the 5,378-acre park and raising the water level by twelve feet. Critics say that will wipe out groves of cottonwood trees, destroy bird habitat, wetlands and walleye spawning areas, and leave an unsightly “bathtub ring” of barren mud flats around the reservoir when water levels are low. The lawsuit claims that the Corps improperly evaluated the project’s impacts and dismissed a number of less damaging alternatives to the current plan.

Chatfield draws 1.6 million visitors a year and hosts 375 different species of birds — fourteen of which are listed as protected by state or federal authorities. Audubon’s attorneys contend that the project will cost the state around $3.4 million in lost park revenues, much of which is used to support less popular parks.

But the most intriguing claim in the suit has to do with whether the project will actually be of much use in boosting water storage for various agricultural and suburban interests. Several of the parties who initially signed on to the project, including the Parker Water and Sanitation District and the City of Brighton, have since dropped out and sought to meet water needs from other sources. Others, including the City of Aurora, “are trying to leave the project or have already left,” the complaint states.

The reason for all those defections? While the project claims an estimated 8,539 acre‐feet of water per year as its average yield, the estimated “dependable yield” is zero. While the project has been presented as a “restoration” of the South Platte, the Corps’ own studies predict that the river’s flows would actually decrease nine months out of twelve after the project’s completion and increase only one month of the year. Much of the water storage is allocated to junior rights holders and may be available only three years out of ten.

“It’s a bad deal for the public and for Colorado,” said Polly Reetz, conservation chairman of Denver Audubon, in an statement announcing the lawsuit.

But the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Water Conservation Board remain solid supporters of the project, and backers insist that the overall effect on Chatfield will be minimal. Denver Audubon and other environmental groups have said they would prefer to see more conservation measures and less drastic storage projects.

More Chatfield Reservoir coverage here.


[Central] Water district seeks tax revenue for ag infrastructure — The Greeley Tribune

October 13, 2014

Typical water well

Typical water well


From The Greeley Tribune (Kayla Young):

Two Weld County ballot initiatives aim to direct more tax dollars toward the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District with the intention of increasing water infrastructure and maintenance investments for agriculture and communities.

Ballot issue 4B proposes increasing the district’s annual tax allotment to a maximum of $750,000 in order to provide a stable water supply and maintain storage projects for farms, ranches and municipalities in Weld, Adams and Morgan counties.

Broken down, the home-owners’ tax would equate to an additional $2.34 a year for the owner of $100,000 house, said Kathy Parker, the district’s public information officer. She specified that business owners would not be subject to the levy.

Board member Randy Knutson emphasized the need for infrastructure improvements, especially following the wear and tear brought in 2013.

“With the flood last year and the increased maintenance and repair that we’ve been faced with, that’s a big reason for this particular tax increase, that and aging infrastructure,” he said.

He encouraged non-agricultural landowners to consider the possible benefits the tax would bring to overall quality of life.

“They benefit from agriculture; they benefit from water quality; they benefit from delivery of water, which eventually provides food for them,” he said.

The second ballot issue, 4C, would “de-bruce” funding restrictions created through the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). In other words, the issue would open up excess tax revenue and grants not currently available to the district due to tax code regulations.

“We have lost millions of dollars by not being able to participate in funding and grant money that has been available. The TABOR amendment has limited our ability to participate,” Knutson said.

More 2014 Colorado November election coverage here.


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