Greeley has drafted an updated Water Conservation Plan and would like your feedback. http://t.co/oCvwYzvG7p
— Greeley Water Dept. (@greeleywater) October 16, 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Tyler Johnson):
Bureau of Reclamation, Northern Water Conservancy District and Northern Water’s Municipal Subdistrict have been negotiating a contract that would allow the Subdistrict to use excess, or unused, capacity in Reclamation’s Colorado-Big Thompson Project for the Windy Gap Project and future Windy Gap Firming Project.
The 30-day public comment period will open October 8, and close November 7. The comment period provides the public the opportunity to comment on the Contract, Senate Document 80, and Section 14 (Reclamation Project Act of 1939) Determination Memos.
“This project will make more efficient use of existing water rights,” said Reclamation’s Great Plains Regional Director Mike Ryan. “When completed, Windy Gap Firming would provide water storage for 13 municipal providers.”
The contract will allow for the introduction, storage, conveyance, exchange, substitution, and delivery of water for Municipal Subdistrict, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and allows the flexibility to move or preposition water from the Colorado-Big Thompson Project in Colorado.
Section 14 authorizes 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. Senate Document 80 contains guidelines for Project Facilities operations and Auxiliary Features.
“There has been a need for a storage reservoir for Windy Gap water for more than 25 years,” said Ryan. “We are getting much closer to making that a reality, and making better use of America’s infrastructure, while also creating needed jobs in the process.”
For more information on the contract, Senate Document 80, and Section 14 Determination Memos, contact Lois Petersen at (406) 247-7752 or email@example.com.
More Windy Gap coverage here.