Jon Monson retires from @GreeleyWater

April 7, 2014
Greeley Irrigation Ditch No. 3 construction via Greeley Water

Greeley Irrigation Ditch No. 3 construction via Greeley Water

From The Greeley Tribune (Analisa Romano):

When Jon Monson was hired by the city of Greeley to act as director of the Water and Sewer Department 18 years ago, he was all arms in the air and enthusiasm for the job.

“You’re on the side of angels,” Monson told The Tribune in an April 29, 1996, interview — just 10 days into the job. “You’re one of the good guys protecting the environment … and providing water that’s necessary for life. That’s exciting.”

On Thursday — just three days into retirement — not much had changed.

“I would like to stay involved in water,” Monson said of his plans as a retiree. “People respect the transformative power of water to create the environment we want to create.”

Monson’s passion for the job came up a number of times among coworkers and friends at Monson’s last day this week as something they will remember him by and miss.

Monson will be missed for his quotes from famous people like Benjamin Franklin and Plato, his “data-dense” graphics, his Socratic style and his Christmas bread, said Harold Evans, chairman of the Greeley Water Board, at Monson’s retirement party Monday.

But more importantly, Monson will be missed for his leadership.

“Things work well and are delivered in a cost-effective manner, plus Greeley is positioned well for the future with its critical infrastructure of water and wastewater,” Evans said. “That’s the definition of leadership.”

In his time with the city, Monson set the tone for the development of Greeley’s water system with the 2003 Water Master Plan, helped rebuild both the Bellvue and Boyd Lake water treatment plants, was recognized by the state for the city’s water conservation program, expanded the Bellvue pipeline to near completion, acquired at least 10,000 more acre-feet of water in anticipation of population growth, oversaw a great deal of improvements on the sewer system and created more local water storage, such as at the Poudre Ponds.

Through it all, Monson has never faltered in saying he loves his job, said Charlotte Hansen, his wife.

“To be able to love your work, that is a true gift in life. Well, this man loves his work. Believe me,” Hansen said at Monson’s retirement party.

There were challenges through the years, the worst of which was the painstakingly long process of environmental permitting for projects like the Bellvue pipeline or water storage, Monson said. Although even those things he said he understood as necessary components of the job.

Greeley Mayor Tom Norton said Monson steered the city particularly well through major upgrades to Greeley’s wastewater treatment plant, which has been recognized by the EPA for sustainability and energy efficiency.

“Jon led the way to making the wastewater facilities as important as water facilities, and our stewardship for clean water downriver as well as clean water upriver,” Norton said. “I think that’s very, very important.”

Monson also was honored this week by the Farr family, who said W.D. Farr — a Greeley leader who left a number of legacies, including planning for water — was particularly fond of him.

“It was such a wonderful gift that W.D. gave me in the last decade of his life, to give some inkling, some fraction of what he knew about water,” Monson said Thursday. “The more I think about it, it was a gift from me to him to give him the opportunity to share what he knew. And I hope to do that, to find some way of passing that on.”

During retirement, Monson said he hopes to work for Engineers Without Borders and work on his fly-fishing skills. In the near future, Monson will be sailing, traveling to Europe to visit his wife’s family and track down his own ancestors and meet his daughter in Nepal as she and her husband motorcycle through South Asia.

Before Greeley, Monson worked in south Florida as a utility director. Before that, he lived in Boulder and moved around the South as a water engineer.

“Greeley has been really good to me,” Monson said Thursday with a nostalgic smile. “It was a good place to spend half my career.”

More Greeley coverage here.


Greeley: ‘One of the alternatives we need to take a serious look at is to use less’ — Jon Monson

February 21, 2014

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From The Greeley Tribune (Analisa Romano):

Greeley’s water supply will run out in about 30 years if we continue to consume water the way we do now, city officials say. By 2050, they say, half of the demand for water in Greeley will be to irrigate outdoor lawns That estimate has prompted Greeley officials to dig for more solutions to water conservation this year, which could include new landscaping and development policies.

Everything is still in its early stages, but the city’s water experts this spring will hold a set of public meetings to spread awareness about Greeley’s water use and what could be done to curb it, said Jon Monson, Greeley’s water and sewer director.

Greeley has been moved to action now but the city is not alone in facing limited water resources, a statewide issue. In fact, Greeley has done well purchasing water rights and creating the infrastructure to store it for future use, Monson said.

And the city has more recently been recognized for encouraging residents to be more efficient with their water through the city’s showerhead exchange program, lawn watering schedule and water budget included on water bills.

But conservation has been less of a focal point, Monson said.

“One of the alternatives we need to take a serious look at is to use less,” he said, by reducing demand.

For example, the amount of water needed to irrigate a front lawn is reduced by using native plants instead of buffalo grass.

Monson and Brad Mueller, Greeley’s director of community development, discussed the city’s water situation and possible solutions with the city council last month.

Mueller said the city is taking a slow approach with a number of public meetings before moving forward with any decisions or even a direction on how to lower water use.

“We don’t want people to just go into the reaction of saying we need to be a desert, or let’s just make sure we have all of the water we could possibly buy, because both of those extremes are probably not consistent with Greeley’s values or its history,” Mueller said. “Greeley is probably not going to be a desert hole in the middle of that donut” of agricultural land, he said.

At a council work session in January, Greeley city planner John Barnett presented some possibilities for landscaping that include a mixture of trees and native and non-native plants.

Greeley has a semi-arid environment, meaning rain dries up quickly. With shrubs and ground cover that require low water use and trees that require medium water use, Barnett projected the city could cut back on water use by about 30 percent.

Mueller said the city this fall will take questions to the public that include whether the mix and match option is a good one. Greeley residents will also have a chance to say how much water they think should be used for their lawns and other purposes, what the city should do differently to conserve water, what Greeley’s landscape should look like, and, if there are any new requirements that come of this process, how they should be applied to existing properties. There is no set schedule yet for when those public meetings will be, but Mueller said the city is aiming for late March or April. Monson said they hope to get input from builders, developers, homeowners and more before going back before the city council to present their findings.

“To do something different, it’s going to take a little more effort, and it could be more expense, but we could save quite a bit of water doing it,” Monson said. “There’s always trade-offs.”

More conservation coverage here.


The latest newsletter from the Greeley Water is hot off the presses

February 19, 2014

Greeley to hike stormwater rates 7% for 2014 for additional manpower

October 16, 2013
Greeley Irrigation Ditch No. 3 construction via Greeley Water

Greeley Irrigation Ditch No. 3 construction via Greeley Water

From The Greeley Tribune (Analisa Romano):

Greeley residents will pay an average of 39 cents more per month in stormwater fees next year, thanks to a 7 percent hike that must be approved by the city council each year.

Even so, the city is about $50.4 million behind in stormwater projects that need attention, said Joel Hemesath, director of Greeley Public Works. Part of the backlog is because the city didn’t implement a stormwater fee until 2002, so stormwater for a time was competing for funding against other infrastructure needs.

When the city began the stormwater fee, officials intended to raise rates by 7 percent each year, but rates were frozen in 2010 and ’11 because of the recession, Hemesath said.

The average fee for residential customers next year will rise from about $5.61 per month to $6 per month. The average for commercial users will rise by $10.95 to $167.06 per month, and industrial users will pay $8.63 more, at $131.94 per month.

The increase brings Greeley’s residential stormwater rates on par with Adams County, with the city roughly in the middle when comparing what residents pay other governments, according to Public Works data.

Residents in Pueblo pay an average of $6.25 per month, and Loveland residents pay about $10.39 per month. Arvada residents pay about $4.30 per month, and residents of Littleton pay about $2.50 per month.

The increase will garner an additional $263,000 to help pay for a second crew of stormwater workers to be hired by the city next year, an additional stormwater engineer and the cost of the maintenance work they will do on detention ponds and stormwater pipes, Hemesath said.

He said the salaries of the new employees are also helped by a bolstered 2014 budget, which Greeley officials increased due to an expected rise in revenue.

The additional crew will be available to work on the $800,000 worth of projects budgeted in the stormwater fund next year. They will work to design a project to upsize existing stormwater pipes from Sanborn Park down to the Poudre River, install a stormwater pipe before crews begin construction on East 20th Street, and install some filters that clean collected stormwater before it’s released back into the river.

Ten projects, scheduled for 2015-22, are budgeted at $15.7 million, with the actual construction of the Sanborn Park to Poudre project at a cost of $9.6 million. That doesn’t count the 14 unfunded projects that total $50.4 million, bringing Greeley’s total future capital improvement needs in coming years to $75.9 million.

More stormwater coverage here and here.


Greeley Water is piloting an online water conservation tool

June 18, 2013

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From The Greeley Tribune:

In another effort to conserve water, Greeley officials have launched a pilot program that pinpoints residents’ water use though an online program. The WaterSmart program will allow 2,600 Greeley residents to personalize their water use online based on things like family size and the age of their toilets and sinks, according to a news release. It’s a new tool to complement the water budget, which city officials rolled out to all residential water customers this year, said Ruth Quade, a Greeley water conservation coordinator.

The water budget accompanies Greeley residents’ water bills each month, showing how much each household used compared to what was needed based on historic averages. Randomly selected residents in the WaterSmart program can now compare their household water use with neighbors, and the program will suggest targeted conservation techniques.

The pilot program will also allow residents to create a water savings plan and update their information for more accurate savings suggestions — all for free.

If the program is successful, it may go citywide.

In a test program for the water budget, city officials found that most Greeley residents are conservative with their water use, with about 18 percent using far more than necessary.

Jon Monson, Greeley’s water and sewer director, said before the program was rolled out to all residents this year that if every household in the city that exceeds the budget could bring use down to what the city recommends, Greeley could save 700 acre-feet of water, or about $70 million worth of new water, each year.

More conservation coverage here.


The June Water Conservation newsletter from Greeley Water is hot off the press

June 16, 2013

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Click here to read the newsletter.


Greeley Children’s Water Festival recap: ‘In fifth grade you get to do’ — Armando Valladares

April 28, 2013

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From The Greeley Tribune (Sherrie Peif):

It was clear walking around Island Grove Regional Park on Wednesday that most fourth-graders could survive on a very limited vocabulary. “Whoa,” one boy said as an employee of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District blew a giant bubble all around him. “Whoa,” another girl yelled out as water fell all around her in the 100-year flood exhibit. “Cool” and “Oh yeah,” could also be heard throughout the Island Grove Events Center, the Exhibition Building and the 4-H Building as more than 1,000 students from 15 schools across Adams, Morgan and Weld counties filled the buildings for the 23rd annual Children’s Water Festival.

The day long event is a collaboration among the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District, the city of Greeley, the West Greeley Conservation District and the city of Evans, along with numerous sponsors. It is designed to teach young children about water conservation and its uses. The “Whoas,” “Oh yeahs” and “Cools” were for good reason; each activity was designed with kids in mind and meant to be hands-on and interactive. “We want to reach kids early to teach them that water is a limited resource and things can be done to take action,” said Kathy Parker, public information/education officer for the CCWCD.

The event consisted of dozens of booths that tested children’s awareness of water use and conservation.

At one booth, students spun a wheel to answer either a water knowledge question or a fun facts question such as at what temperature does water freeze? What saves more water, a shower or a bath? And what is the longest river in the United States? If they answered the question correctly, they won a bracelet.

Another “just for fun” activity, that attracted students more than most, was the bubblelogy booth, where giant bubbles were blown up around the student.

The bubbles were made from water, dish soap and cooking oil. Students stood on bricks in a plastic swimming pool while a large hula hoop type device was dunked in the mixture and stretched around them.

All the kids were given free T-shirts and schools that could not afford the transportation were given money for their busses to make the trip. Schools from as far away as Brush and Fort Morgan were in attendance.

Also helping with the event were students in the fifth-grade leadership class from Dos Rios Elementary School, who taught how to pan for gold and when and why it was done in Colorado history. “It was buried here and ended up in the rivers from when the mountains grew up,” said Kenia Morales, 11.

They all agreed that helping was just as much fun, and more, as participating. “In fourth grade all you got to do was watch,” said Armando Valladares, 10. “In fifth grade you get to do.”

More education coverage here.


Water utilities are booking big revenue from selling water to oil and gas companies

April 4, 2013

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Maggie Shafer):

The explosion of hydraulic fracturing in the oil and gas business in Weld County is proving to be an economic boon to water utilities, allowing them to keep rates level and invest in new infrastructure…

Last year, the Greeley Water and Sewer Department sold $4.1 million worth of its surplus water to haulers through hydrant purchases, the majority of which went to oil rigs in the area, said Jon Monson, the department’s director. The treated water is sold for $3,700 per acre-foot, many times higher than the $30 per-acre foot the agricultural community pays. All of that new revenue is put to use in a number of ways. The city designated $1 million of the added income to pay for its share in wildfire water damage mitigation in the Poudre Watershed, and invested much of the rest into its long-range plans for a new reservoir and a new transmission main to bring water from the mountains. Additionally, the department purchased needed supplies and performed general maintenance, costs of which have historically been paid for by the residents of the city via their water bill. “The oil and gas drilling throughout Northern Colorado has benefited Greeley because it is a new revenue stream,” said Monson…

The city of Fort Lupton, meanwhile, made more than $360,000 from sales related to the oil and gas industry in 2012. City Administrator Claud Hanes said the income goes straight to its utility fund, where it is used to pay off debt incurred when the community switched from well water to Big Thompson water from the Northern Water Conservancy District in the mid-1990s. The process necessitated the construction of a new pipeline, which Fort Lupton has been slowly paying off through residential fees…

The town of Eaton, which sold about 14 million gallons of water to haulers last year, netted about $58,000 from the sales. Town Administrator Gary Carsten said the money was used to build a new water station “big enough for a semi” that self-regulates, shutting off like a gas pump after the user has drained what was paid for…

While the amount of water being used to drill may sound like a lot, when compared with total water usage, it only added up to 10 percent of Greeley’s surplus water last year. Statewide, the oil and gas industry’s water consumption counts for less than 1 percent of total use, Monson said.

“We (Northern Colorado) use a lot more in any number of other industries,” said [Brian] Werner. “We’ve always used our water. For crops to eat, to brewing beer, the uses of water have kept evolving. Just because this is different doesn’t make it bad. The big-picture take-home is that there is generally enough water to go around.”

More oil and gas coverage here and here.


Drought news: The drought has dried up municipal leases to farmers #codrought

March 26, 2013

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From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

It’s been a bone-dry search this year for the many farmers and ranchers who depend heavily on leasing water from their municipal neighbors. Greeley, Fort Collins, Loveland and Longmont — each typically leasing thousands of acre-feet of excess water per year to local producers — have all said it’s unlikely they’ll have any extra water available in 2013. Dismal snowpack in the mountains and not having city water as a back-up option is putting farmers in a tough spot, local crop growers say.

With spring planting beginning in the upcoming weeks, many predict they’ll cut back on production even more than they did in a drought-stricken 2012. “There’s just nothing out there to lease,” said Randy Knutson, who farms south, east and north of Greeley, explaining that, on one of his 160-acre farms where he fallowed about 30 percent of his ground last year, he’ll likely fallow about 50 percent of that ground this year.

Knutson — who sits on the board of directors for the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District and the Greeley No. 3 Ditch and Western Mutual Ditch companies — said, based on his conversations with farmers, there will be fallowing aplenty this year.

Water officials from Greeley and Fort Collins said this is the first time in about 10 years they haven’t been able to lease extra water to agricultural users, and for Loveland and Longmont it’s been even longer, officials from those two cities said.

Agriculture uses about 85 percent of the state’s water, according to the Colorado Division of Water Resources, but the ag industry doesn’t own nearly that much of the state’s supply — at least not anymore.

In 1957, when the Colorado-Big Thompson Project first went into operation, 85 percent of the water in the project was owned by agricultural users, according to numbers from the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, that oversees operations of the C-BT Project. But today, only 34 percent of the water in the C-BT — the largest water-supply project in northern Colorado — is owned by agricultural users.

For years, when there was limited money to be made in ag, growing cities along the northern Front Range bought water rights from farming and ranching families that were getting out of the business. Also, some producers who stayed in business thought it could be more profitable to sell some of their water rights at a certain price to growing cities, and then rent extra water as needed. “I can’t condemn anyone at all for selling their water rights,” said Lynn Fagerberg, an Eaton-area farmer. “Times were tough for a long, long time. “It’s just led to a complicated situation now.”

A lot of producers today — while owning some of their water rights — play the rental market heavily, according to Brian Werner, the public information officer and historian for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. While only one-third of the water in the C-BT Project is now owned by agricultural users, about two-thirds of C-BT water in most years still goes to ag users, who lease much of that C-BT water from cities who own it, Werner said. Despite the shift of ownership, the C-BT remains the largest, supplemental water supply for ag in the state, he added. But playing the rental market, Werner noted, can make life difficult in dry years when cities are reluctant to lease water — like this year.

In 2012, the drought forced cities and farmers to use up water in reservoirs, but they did so in hopes that this year’s winter and spring would produce at least average snowfall, or better. But through Monday, statewide snowpack was only 79 percent of average, and only 71 percent of average in the South Platte River basin — not enough to replenish reservoirs back up to levels where cities are comfortable with their supplies. According to the most recent report from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, statewide reservoirs were filled to level about 30 percent below-average at the beginning of March.

Additionally, last year’s wildfires, which took place around many high-mountain reservoirs, caused additional complications.

Fagerberg and other farmers and ranchers have expressed frustration in that cities which aren’t leasing water to agriculture this year aren’t putting additional lawn-watering measures in place that could save water — water that could then be leased to ag.

Jon Monson, water and sewer director for the city of Greeley, said the city’s water board will continue looking at potential watering restrictions as the year goes along.

Monson, Fagerberg and others were quick to point out the economic impact agriculture has on Weld County — amounting to about $1.5 billion agricultural goods, which ranks Weld eighth in the nation, according to the most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture. In 2011, the city of Greeley leased 25,427 acre-feet of water to agricultural users, but this year, only has enough available to honor its long-term ag-lease agreements of about 5,000 acre-feet, Monson said.

Many ag water users are tying to decrease their dependency on leased water form cities. The board of directors for the North Weld County Water District nearly a year ago increased water surcharges in order to buy more water down the road. The board cited concerns that dairymen who are customers of North Weld Water don’t own very much of the water they use; collectively, the 20 largest dairies in the district owned only about 7 percent of the water they use, according to their numbers.

The Central Colorado Water Conservancy District passed a $60 million bond issue last fall to purchase water needed by many of its ag users.

None of those efforts, though, will help this year.

In recent years, commodity prices have made farming more profitable, and since 2009, the percentage of CB-T water owned by agriculture has stayed steady at 34 percent — after gradually dropping nearly every year for decades. But the percentage of ag ownership isn’t increasing, and that’s because the water rights agricultural users sold years ago are too expensive for farmers and ranchers to buy now, Werner said. And water rights are certainly pricey in times of drought, Werner added. He said the price of a C-BT share has increased from about $9,000 last year to about $13,500 to $14,000 now. “We’re basically seeing the price increase by about $1,000 per month so far this year,” Werner said, noting that most of that water today is being bought for municipal and industrial uses. “It’s certainly not the farmers who can afford it.”


A Brief History of the South Platte River Basin

February 10, 2013

Here’s a great use of social media to get the word out about HB12-1278. The YouTube video — produced and directed by Colorado Water Institute, animated by Noah Besser — follows the history of the appropriation and administration of the South Platte River downstream of the mountains.

Good luck implenting HB12-1278 Reagan and team.

Thanks to Coyote Gulch reader Greg from Nebraska for the link.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here and here.


‘It costs 10 times more to clean out a reservoir than to build a new one’ — Jon Monson

November 8, 2012

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Experts from around the region painted an uncertain picture of the area’s water future Wednesday morning at Northern Water’s fall water user’s meeting in Greeley.

As ash and silt continue their relentless descent into the Poudre River during even tiny rainstorms, Fort Collins will have to spend much more money on water filtration and purification in the coming years and potentially treat drinking water with additional chemicals to ensure the muck stays away from your faucet, Fort Collins water production manager Lisa Voytko said. The silt washing into Seaman Reservoir from the Hewlett and High Park wildfire burn areas could be costly to Greeley, said Jon Monson, the city’s water and sewer director…

Voytko said she’s worried about spiking levels of total organic carbon in Poudre River water every time it rains. That’s because the carbon has to be removed with chlorine, a process that creates potentially toxic byproducts in drinking water that have to be removed at great expense. Polymers have to be used to remove the turbidity from the drinking water, and it’s expensive to dispose of the byproducts of that process, she said…

The summer’s wildfires have clogged Fort Collins’ water intake structures on the Poudre River with sediment and debris, reducing their intake capacity. The sediment washing off the burn areas is so extreme that the city had to flush out its intake structures four times in September. Normally, the city flushes them once a year. Then there’s a concern all the silt and muck in the Poudre River and Seaman Reservoir could cause major algae blooms, further degrading the water quality and treatment expense, Voytko said.

More water pollution coverage here.


Runoff contamination in the Cache la Poudre River from the High Park Fire is causing a supply problem for Greeley Water

September 6, 2012

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From KUNC (Kirk Siegler):

John McCutchan of Greeley Water says since the High Park Fire, area water managers have had to throw out the book on how they treat water coming from the Poudre River.

“It’s new for us to have to be watching the Poudre night and day. We’re all faced with the same situation.”

Many Northern Colorado water utilities are tied to the Poudre. And McCutchan says Greeley’s water rights on the river are too important to “Let go down stream. Especially in a drought period.”

McCutchan is the Superintendent of Greeley’s Bellevue Water Treatment Plant which filters water from the Poudre River -a key source for Greeley’s drinking supply.

The normally “pristine” Poudre is the cleanest source of water in the country, McCutchan says. But since the recent fires, the river has been running black with ash and other contaminants. And that has the potential to clog up the Bellevue Plant…

But runoff from the scorched-black earth around the Poudre has sent large particles of ash along with increased levels of iron and manganese swirling down the river.

If massive amounts of these contaminates were allowed to enter the filtration system, it could render the holding ponds useless because they’d quickly fill up with sludge and sediment.

To help mitigate any damage and very costly repairs, Greeley has limited its intake of Poudre River water to just 5 percent after the fire compared to an average of 25 percent for this time of year…

This means the city of Greeley and John McCutchan are going to have to take a hard look at what’s going to happen when they’re forced to rely more heavily on the contaminated Poudre.

“Everyone has had the same kind of problems. You can remove most of the contaminates, but some of the compounds that bring the taste and odor issues, the smoky flavor, are very difficult to remove.”

The city of Fort Collins has just started blending water from the Poudre back into its supplies. Each water utility knows that things will change depending on rain and the subsequent runoff into the Poudre. They’re also looking ahead to next spring and the annual winter snow melt, and what that runoff will mean for the river and next year’s water supply.

More Cache la Poudre River coverage here and here.


Greeley: Water and Sewer Board recommends a 5.4% net rate hike, water up, sewer down

August 23, 2012

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From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

A 5.4 percent rate increase for the average single-family home was recommended by the Greeley Water and Sewer Board on Wednesday. The water and sewer board’s 7-0 vote sent a $52.7 million proposed budget to city council members, who, along with City Manager Roy Otto, will consider the measure during the next few months before finalizing the 2013 rates late in the year…

Following revisions during the past month, the proposed budget brought before the board and approved Wednesday includes a 7.9 percent increase in water rates, while sewer rates would drop by 2.2 percent — amounting to an overall 5.4 percent increase for the average single-family home.

Bringing about much of the rate increase for 2013, like other years, are the costs associated with the city’s acquisition of more water supplies, as well as the construction of the city’s new pipeline from the Bellvue Treatment Plant, its participation in the new Chimney Hollow Reservoir and the permitting costs associated with proposed reservoirs.

More Greeley coverage here.


Runoff from wildfire areas causes increased water treatment concerns, ‘blackwater rafting?’ #CODrought

July 15, 2012

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From The Denver Post (Yesenia Robles):

“Fortunately we weren’t using Poudre water anyway when the fires started, so our customers haven’t noticed any differences,” [Donna Brosemer] said. “Our main concern is we want to keep as much as we can out of that water because we can’t continue to use the Horsetooth water indefinitely.”

While the ashy Poudre water can’t be used for drinking right now, some of it is being used by farmers, Brosemer said. “It can ultimately become a problem for them too because if there’s too much ash it can clog up their systems,” Brosemer said. “But they don’t have the same complications we do with the drinking water system.”

From The Denver Post (Electa Draper):

A black sludge now coats many river shores once sparkling with white, tan or pink sands. A canyon once heavily scented by pines smells like a smoky campfire. Many miles of this 126-mile-long river now evoke its namesake, the gunpowder buried by French trappers along its banks in the 1820s.

People now enjoy “blackwater rafting,” observed homeowner Mike Smith, whose deck juts over the Poudre.

More water treatment coverage here.


Colorado Water 2012: Greeley and Union Colony ditch history

June 28, 2012

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Here’s the latest installment of the Valley Courier’s Water 2012 series written by Jon Monson. Here’s an excerpt:

The Union Colonists had big plans for irrigation ditches. Ditch No. 1 was going to come from the mouth of the Poudre Canyon, roughly where the Larimer and Weld Canal is now, and irrigate almost 40,000 acres. Another 40,000 acres were to be irrigated by the No.2, which eventually became the New Cache Irrigation Company.

They started smaller though, building the No.3 first to irrigate about 3,500 acres. The No.3 was closest to town, actually forming the southern edge of the colony. Located uphill from the Poudre, the ditch could irrigate the parks and gardens of the townspeople as it passed by to irrigate farms east and west of the city.

Back then people were fascinated by the power of water to make the dry prairie bloom with shade and green vegetables. Everyone had a garden. Even the kids diverted water from their parents laterals to play farmer.

The grownup farmers worked hard those first few years, learning how to manage water and how to run a mutual ditch company. Things went well until the summer of 1874 when the Poudre River suddenly dried up. Curious, someone got on their horse and rode up stream to see what was the matter. Turns out the new little town of Camp Collins had thrown a diversion across the Poudre and was taking the entire river to irrigate their farms.

Back in the Union Colony the cry went up, “To your tents boys! Rifles and cartridges!” Remember this was less than ten years after the Civil War. Cooler heads prevailed and the two groups met in Windsor to discuss (argue?) the matter. That summer they decided to allocate the water to who ever needed it most. Now that must have been one tough job. Two years later, when the Colorado Constitution was written, Article XVI Section 6 enshrined the prior appropriation doctrine, “The right to divert the unappropriated waters of any natural stream to beneficial uses shall never be denied.”

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.


The High Park Fire is affecting municipal operations on the Cache la Poudre River

June 13, 2012

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Click on the thumbnail graphic for this morning’s fire map from Larimer County. The file is quite large so it will take a while to download. Here’s a report from Brett Walton writing for Circle of Blue. From the article:

The nearby cities of Greeley and Fort Collins have closed their water intakes on the Poudre River, said Brian Werner, a public information officer with the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which provides water to 850,000 people from a Bureau of Reclamation project. The cities are now drawing exclusively from the Bureau’s Horsetooth Reservoir. Lisa Voytko, water production manager for Fort Collins, told Circle of Blue that the fire has knocked out power at the utility’s Poudre River intake. “Because we can’t monitor water quality at the source,” Voytko said, “we switched to the reservoir.”

Werner told Circle of Blue that the High Park fire is by far the largest and most extensive ever in the district’s service area. “There will be impacts,” Werner said. “If you get a hard rain on these steep slopes, it’s going to bring all that gunk into your system.”

From The Greeley Tribune (Dan England):

The Bellvue filter plant, which treats Greeley’s water supply, including the water you put in your coffee this morning, was in the mandatory evacuation zone from the High Park Fire. City workers, however, remained at the plant because of a considerable defense zone, which includes the concrete Hansen canal holding water and cornfields that were being soaked from sprinklers Sunday, not to mention a large chunk of open space, with only a couple of trees, around the plant. If the fire did somehow beat those barriers, it would essentially resemble a grass fire. Just for some additional comfort, the Greeley Fire Department sent a tanker and some firefighters to man it to keep watch over the plant, said Roy Otto, Greeley’s city manager.

So the problem isn’t the fire, it’s what it’s leaving behind. Actually, it’s both fires. May’s Hewlett Gulch fire is already causing issues. The runoff from Thursday’s heavy rains mixed with the remnants from that blaze, soiled the Poudre River beyond what Bellvue could treat, forcing the city to draw from its backup supply, the Hansen, which draws water from Horsetooth Reservoir.

But now Horsetooth could be soiled by runoff from heavy rains mixing with soot from the High Park fire, as well. If it does rain hard enough to cause both water supplies to fill with sludge, it’s possible the city would have to shut down the Bellvue plant and draw its water from the plant at Boyd Lake. The city typically only uses Boyd Lake in the summer months, when the demand for water is at its highest, said Jon Monson, director of water and sewer for the city of Greeley.

If the city does have to shut down Bellvue, Greeley residents would face tighter restrictions on water use. But Monson doesn’t believe it will come to that, as it would take a significant storm to force those problems. And even if some ash and soot finds its way into Horsetooth, the city draws water off the bottom, meaning the only drawback would be a smoky taste to Greeley’s drinking water.

Mitigation from both fires will be expensive regardless of what happens, Monson said, as the city plans to dump straw by helicopter to care for 400 acres blackened by the Hewlett Gulch blaze until the natural grasses can re-establish to help filter the dirty wash that runs into the river. That straw costs more than $1,000 an acre. Now the city may have to do a lot more to treat whatever the High Park fire scorches, and High Park is already much larger than Hewlett. The city is supposed to get 75 percent of its costs reimbursed from the federal government, Monson said.


Written in Water, from Greeley Water, features, ‘The wisdom of W.D. Farr and the poetry of Justice Gregory Hobbs’

December 5, 2011

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“The need for water is omnipresent…,” says Hobbs, “All of Greeley would be treeless…”

Here’s the link to the video from Greeley Water.


Milton-Seaman Reservoir outlet works undergoing rehab

September 14, 2011

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

Plans for lowering the water level of the reservoir to provide access to the gates that control flows to the North Fork call for slowly “ramping up” releases to keep too much sediment from getting into the water too fast and discoloring the river…

Seaman Reservoir was built in the 1940s and serves as drought protection for the city of Greeley’s water supply. Releases from the bottom of the reservoir are controlled by five heavy gates near the base of the dam. An inspection of the gates in 2008 found that the hydraulic controls known as actuators on two of the five gates had failed. A project to replace the 65-year-old hydraulic and mechanical systems controlling the gates has begun and is expected to last until April. The actuators currently are near the base of the dam and can only be accessed by divers unless the reservoir is completely drained. Part of the $1.6 million maintenance project will include moving the mechanical systems higher so they are more easily accessible. When full, the reservoir near the dam is 77 feet deep. The water level has been drawn down to 50 feet and is expected to come down another 12 to 11 feet…

Greeley officials have a solid mitigation plan for the project, said Ken Kehmeier, senior aquatic biologist for the Platte River Basin with the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. Lowering the reservoir level is likely to cause a fish kill when the reservoir freezes this winter, he said, and some dead fish may end up in the river. The project includes $3,000 for the division to restock the reservoir with rainbow trout, he said.

More South Platte River basin coverage here.


Greeley Tribune book review: ‘Cowboy in the Board Room’

September 13, 2011

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The book is about northern Colorado legend W.D. Farr. Here’s the review from Eric Brown writing for the The Greeley Tribune. Here’s an excerpt:

Tyler’s newest book, “W.D. Farr: Cowboy in the Boardroom,” examines the Greeley resident who was a key figure in the development of large Colorado water projects, served as president of the National Cattlemen’s Association, was an adviser to the U.S. Department of Agriculture under three U.S. presidents and was appointed by President Richard Nixon to the Environmental Protection Agency…

But in piecing together Farr’s biography during the last three years, Tyler, who is retired and now lives in Steamboat Springs, became more familiar with the leadership qualities Farr possessed, characteristics that made his foresight — visions of bringing more water to residents of northern Colorado and improving standards and practices in the beef industry — a reality for himself and those who would reap the benefits.

“In writing this book, it further confirmed to me what an exceptional leader he was,” Tyler said. “So many characteristics contributed to that; his willingness to learn from others who knew more than him on a particular topic, his thinking ahead, his interactions with people.

“He’s just a great example of what can be accomplished with great leadership. I think that’s what this book highlights more than anything; how effective he was because of his leadership.”

More coverage from Bill Jackson (former Tribune journalist) running in The Greeley Tribune. From the article:

W.D. early on also recognized the need for more water and, with Greeley Tribune publisher Charles Hansen as a mentor, would help develop the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, a trans-mountain diversion that brought Colorado River water to northern Colorado. Hansen was considered the “father” of the C-BT and W.D. its oldest son. W.D. was quoted in the book as saying, “Probably, Charlie Hansen contributed more to the city of Greeley than any other man I have ever known.” Farr always referred to the C-BT as a second Poudre River for northern Colorado. As a member of the Greeley Water Board, which he started, and a 40-year member of the board of directors of Northern Water, W.D. was instrumental in assuring a future water supply for the city and area.


Greeley: The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is standing is the way of Greeley Water’s proposed pipeline from Bellvue to Greeley

August 22, 2011

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From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

In seeking a permit from the federal government to begin work on the final 6½-mile stretch of the pipeline, Greeley submitted a biological assessment that concluded the portion of the project would not have any “adverse effects” on the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse — protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act — or the northern leopard frog. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came to a different conclusion this week.

Jon Monson, director of the city of Greeley’s Water and Sewer Department, said the city and its consulting firm — AECOM based in Denver — must now address the issues raised by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Those issues, for example, include revegetating areas for the benefit of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse and other potentially affected species. Monson described the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ response as “not completely unexpected.” Other city officials expressed frustration at the latest hitch in the project’s schedule…

Monson said he’s hoping to get the needed approval from the federal government in time to proceed with construction plans scheduled for this winter. He added that the current delay won’t cause any additional expenditures since that portion of the project is not yet under construction…

The presence of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is continually an environmental issue in construction projects along the Front Range, but this represents the first time the endangered rodent has caused a delay in the progress of Greeley’s ongoing pipeline project, which was initiated in 2003. So far, construction of the 30-mile pipeline — which will have the capacity to deliver an additional 50 million gallons per day to Greeley, enough to satisfy the projected need of Greeley’s water customers for the next 50 years — has taken place on pasture land not inhabited by the rodent. But the next and final phase of the project will take place where the animal has a presence…

“It’s the quintessential example of the U.S. Endangered Species Act run amuck,” [Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway] said. “It’s cost businesses, municipalities and individuals millions of dollars over the years. It makes you wonder what’s being protected.”

More endangered/threatened species coverage here.


Greeley: Annual water and sewer facilities tour August 25

August 2, 2011

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From Greeley Water via The Greeley Tribune:

The city of Greeley is offering residents the chance to tour the city’s water and sewer facilities with the city’s Water and Sewer Board. The tour is set for 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 25. Residents interested in attending are asked to reserve seating by Aug. 19 to (970) 350-9812. The purpose of this annual tour is to visit water and sewer facilities to learn about new and developing projects, according to a city news release.

More Greeley coverage here.


Greeley: Leprino cheese factory turns dirt for new wastewater plant

April 18, 2011

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From The Greeley Tribune (Chris Casey):

Leprino has also begun construction of the core and shell building for the wastewater treatment plant at 1133 Ash Ave., by Glacier Construction, for a total valuation of $1.56 million. Nick Opper, Leprino’s Greeley plant manager, said the three-phase construction is “on time, and we’ve got a lot of people working on the site right now.”

More wastewater coverage here and here.


Northern Integrated Supply Project: Supplemental EIS expected, ‘…latter part of 2011′

January 3, 2011

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From email from Save the Poudre (Gary Wockner):

The initial release for the Supplemental DEIS for NISP was supposed to be in June of 2010, and was initially delayed until the summer of 2011, but is now estimated to be delayed until the “latter part of 2011″ according to an email from [Chandler Peter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] to Save the Poudre.

Additionally, the Draft EIS for the new Halligan (Fort Collins) and Seaman (Greeley) dams and reservoirs on the North Fork of the Poudre was slated for the summer of 2011, but is now delayed for a half year after the release of the NISP SDEIS (according to the email from Mr. Peter), which will put them into 2012 and well beyond previous estimates.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.


Greeley: How much water will the new Leprino cheese plant use?

November 2, 2010

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Here’s a look at the feed requirements for Leprino’s new cheese plant, from Bill Jackson writing for The Greeley Tribune. From the article:

A dairy cow will eat about 45 pounds of corn silage per day, or two to three times that of a steer in a beef cattle feedlot, [Bill Wailes, head of the animal sciences department at Colorado State University] said. That amount varies from dairy to dairy, depending on specific feed rations, but, regardless, that’s a lot of corn. Silage is a crop that has to be grown close to its point of consumption, whether it be a dairy or a feedlot. The limit on the distance it can be transported is about 25 miles because of its moisture content. Hay is another source of roughage in the diet of a dairy cow or feeder animal. It can come from farther distances, although the price of fuel will have a significant impact. Shell corn, another major component of the diet of a ruminant, can, and does, come from greater distances. And, in recent years, the byproduct from ethanol plants in the region has become a staple in the diet of dairy animals. So, using 50,000 as the number of new cows coming to Weld County, Wailes estimated an additional 410,000 tons of silage per year would be required. Based on a 30-ton-per-acre average, which admittedly is a little high, a minimum of 14,000 acres of new silage will be needed in the area to meet the needs of those cows…

Corn silage, according to research conducted by Joel Schneekloth and Allen Andales of CSU, requires about 8 inches less a year in water than does sugar beets in the Greeley area — 30 inches for beets versus 22 inches for corn. Under ideal conditions — whatever those may be — the net requirement is reduced by rain, which in the Greeley area is about 7 inches per growing season. Depending on the efficiency of irrigation systems, the two researchers said the gross water requirements of sugar beets versus corn could be as much as 52 percent.

More South Platte River basin coverage here.


Greeley: Long-term water planning reveals higher rates in the ratepayers future

June 19, 2010

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From The Greeley Tribune (Chris Casey):

As Water and Sewer Director Jon Monson looks at the sizable footprint of Greeley’s future — the 2060 comprehensive plan has the city growing heavily to the north and west — “I need to look up the river quite a ways, a long time, to make sure that water will be there when people need it.”

At the center of this multi-layered planning are residents, upon whom cities rely to fund operations and storage projects. The typical Greeley household water bill is $45.83 a month, and that, if a planned water acquisition occurs, would rise about $30 per month over the next 10 years. By comparison, rates have climbed $8.85 per month, or 24 percent, since 2003. “The only place we get our money is the ratepayers. It’s basically an investment in our water future,” Monson said. “… To grow into this area (of the 2060 plan) with the lifestyle we’re accustomed to, or we want, Tree City USA, takes water. And the time to get that water is now, when it’s available and it’s relatively inexpensive.”[...]

Monson’s department would like to buy $90 million worth of water in the next six years. While that would help ensure the city’s needs for several decades, water rates would likely climb 84 percent in the next 10 years, or by $30 per single-family home per month. That’s compared to rates rising, if no additional water is bought, 47 percent in the next decade, or $17 per home. If the city added the $13 per month to water bills for the overall acquisition — the initial $30 million buy coming in the 2011-12 budget — rates would be in the upper third of Front Range cities if other cities do not change their rates during the 10-year period…

“We’re not making money,” Monson said. “We’re not a for-profit agency. We’re just covering our costs.” The department’s annual costs currently are $30.5 million, breaking down to about $12 million for operations, $11 million for debt service, $6 million for depreciation and a $1 million from the general fund.

Greeley is involved in numerous regional water storage and delivery projects, including the Haligan and Milton-Seaman reservoir expansions in the Poudre Canyon area, the Windy Gap Firming Project west of Loveland and the Bellvue Pipeline in Larimer County…

Also, Monson said, the city is dealing with critical water maintenance projects, including headgate repair and replacement at the Boyd and Freeman ditch, from the recent flooding; ongoing cement-lining installation in older, rusting pipes in downtown; outlet gate construction at Milton-Seaman reservoir; and centrifuge replacement at the wastewater treatment plant. All those elements — plus rising electrical and power costs and the regional water projects that cost into the millions in permitting alone — factor into water rates. In Greeley, Monson said, about a quarter of a household’s water bill goes to maintenance costs…

Also, he said, elusive future water supplies will likely be lower quality. Greeley is trying to secure as much source water as possible from close to the Poudre Canyon mouth. If the city waited until primary water sources flowed close to town, it would need to do expensive reverse-osmosis treatment and lose the natural down-gravity flow from the canyon.

More Greeley coverage here.


Greeley: City council is considering big rate increases and agressive purchases of water rights

May 26, 2010

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From The Greeley Tribune (Chris Casey):

…the council favors aggressively buying water — as much as $90 million worth during the next six years — an approach officials say will cost residents in the near term but offer long-range savings and security. If the city goes that route, said water and sewer director Jon Monson, water rates would rise about 84 percent in the next 10 years, equating to $30 per single-family home per month. That’s compared to rates rising, if no additional water is bought, 47 percent in the next decade, or $17 per home. Monson presented the water outlook at Tuesday’s council work session.

Greeley’s current average water bill is $45.83 per month, he said. If the city added the $13 per month to water bills for the $90 million water acquisition, rates would be in the upper third of Colorado Front Range cities if other cities do not change their rates…

Greeley’s existing water supplies will keep up with the city’s growth — a 2.25 average rate in recent years — for 20 to 25 years, Monson said. “But we firmly believe now if we do this revolving fund … that water may be gone by the time we need it,” he said. Under the revolving plan, Monson said, Greeley would have to wait 10 to 15 years to start to cash-fund additional water supplies. But, if water is available at all, it would be extremely expensive, adversely affecting future growth, density and irrigation. Compounding the problem, he said, is the fact that other Front Range cities are ramping up water purchases and projects in the wake of the 2002 drought. For example, Monson said, Aurora is spending $800 million on a water project. Monson pointed out that Greeley would also need to add staff — at least several positions — in order to increase the city’s supplies. Although Greeley is a statewide leader in conservation, the city, without additional acquisition, would still exceed its supplies by 2038 or 2040, Monson said…

Under the water acquisition option, the city would, as it has historically done, rent annual excess supplies back to agriculture at cost. Plants such as Leprino Foods require substantial water resources, and council members pointed to the importance of agricultural partnerships to the city’s economic future. Norton said such partnerships with agriculture are “what northern Colorado is all about.”

More Greeley coverage here.


Greeley: City council voices opposition to proposed revised floodplain regulations from the Colorado Water Conservation Board

May 12, 2010

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From The Greeley Tribune (Chris Casey):

Council members sharply criticized the flood plain regulation changes being proposed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Under current rules, the city must abide 100-year flood plain precautions for all facilities, whether they’re deemed critical or not. The Conservation Board has suggested modifications that protect “critical facilities” in the event of a 500-year-flood to better ensure public safety and reduce flood losses.

If such rules were enacted, said Derek Glosson, Greeley’s engineering development review manager, the state has “a laundry list of what it considers critical facilities.” For example, he said, a road would be considered critical and thus require a bridge to be built, “which would be a major cost to the city.” He said it would be easy to ensure that new facilities handle a 500-year-flood — of which there is a two-tenths of one percent chance any given year — but retrofitting existing structures is “very dicey.” “In that analysis you have to include the cost of restricting development and the costs of that land” in compensation to private property owners, Norton said. “I think there’s a big legal question that I think is unanswered in their rather arbitrary approach to this.”

More CWCB coverage here.


The City of Greeley and the American Water Works Association are celebrating Drinking Water Week

May 6, 2010

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From The Greeley Tribune:

Jon Monson, director of water and sewer, said the city has a four-point plan that guides water management:

• strengthen water system infrastructure to properly deliver water to residents;

• balanced approach to buying water from willing agricultural sellers; the city then leases it back to them for decades to allow them to keep farming;

• expand capacity to store water, including the Milton Seaman Reservoir project; and

• improve water conservation — an area in which the city is already a leader in the state.


Greeley: Mandatory watering restrictions start April 15

April 4, 2010

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From The Greeley Tribune:

Throughout the watering season, lawn watering is not allowed between noon and 5 p.m. because it wastes water. Odd-numbered addresses are allowed to water lawns on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, while even-numbered addresses may water Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Nonresidential properties and multifamily residential properties, such as apartments and homeowner association common areas, may water lawns on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Residents who don’t comply face possible fines of up to $100 for a first violation. Outdoor use, mostly lawn watering, accounts for 55 percent of Greeley’s annual water use. The city estimates that 25 percent of the water is wasted by inefficient irrigation practices. The city offers free audits of residents’ irrigation systems, including a custom water schedule. To sign up, go to www.greeleygov.com/Water/audit.aspx and fill out the online form. For more on the city’s watering regulations, go to www.greeleygov.com/Water/news2.aspx or call (970) 336-4134.

More conservation coverage here.


Greeley: City council approves easement acquisitions for new pipeline

March 24, 2010

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From The Greeley Tribune (Chris Casey):

The pipeline will deliver water from Greeley Canal No. 3 to the Poudre Ponds located off north 35th Avenue, said Jon Monson, water and sewer director. The Lower Cache la Poudre River Stewardship Project will help meet the city’s water storage needs in lined gravel pit reservoirs.

More Greeley coverage here.


Greeley leases 4,000 acre-feet of Colorado-Big Thompson water to the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District for augmentation

February 25, 2010

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From The Greeley Tribune:

GMS and WAS plan to use the water as augmentation supply for the 2010-11 operating season.

Greeley partners with agricultural users on various projects including the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, Greeley Irrigation Company, Water Supply and Storage Company, and Greeley-Loveland Irrigation Company. In addition, the city has leased an average of 8,000 acre-feet of water to agriculture over the last four years. The lease of Greeley’s 4,000 acre-feet is estimated to supply the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District with a net supply of 1,600 acre-feet.

More Greeley coverage here.


Greeley considering boring for new pipeline from Bellevue to Greeley

February 6, 2010

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From the North Forty News (Cherry Solkoloski):

The city is planning to bore underground, rather than excavating a ditch, through sensitive areas just south of the Cache la Poudre River. Spokesperson Dan Moore said preliminary plans call for a series of bores, for a total of about a quarter mile of pipeline. The so-called northern segment through LaPorte is just one of several sections of pipeline that will take water from the city’s Bellvue treatment plant all the way to Greeley. Some of the segments have already been completed, but the northern segment’s preferred route has drawn intense criticism from some landowners who will be affected. However, Moore said, the boring method “should avoid most of the concerns we have heard.”[...]

Moore said that with the boring method, the city should be able to avoid destroying the historic features and the Point of Rocks. The city would bore under the irrigation canals and through a ridge just south of the Point of Rocks. It would go under the old railroad bed at some point, but the intact tracks would not be disturbed. Moore said the approach would be friendlier to the environment. The access road could be smaller, and the area would be easier to restore. The process would likely involve digging three boreholes, about 20 feet deep, from which the tunnels would be bored. There are always surprises when doing underground work, Moore cautioned, and the city might have to excavate in some areas if they encounter large chunks of rock…

Moore said that the cost difference between boring and trenching is difficult to assess. Although boring is a more expensive construction method, restoration of the property would cost less with that approach. Even with boring, he said, Greeley is sure that the preferred route on the south side of the river would be less expensive than the other alternatives considered…

Construction could begin next winter on the project, Moore said, and the project could take two seasons to complete. The city avoids doing pipeline work in the spring and early summer because of farming activity, irrigation and wildlife. Before work can begin, the city must acquire necessary permits from Larimer County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps will consult with the Colorado Historical Society before issuing a permit.

More Greeley coverage here and here.


Greeley: James Maxwell Clark and the Union Colony

September 24, 2009

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Here’s a look at James Maxwell Clark and the Union Colony, from Caroline Black writing for The Greeley Tribune. From the article:

From 1872-1875, the economy of Greeley was hurting as farmers battled harsh winter storms, drought and grasshoppers. They attempted to learn new forms of crop cultivation that were in contrast with what they had experienced in the humid areas of the eastern United States. Like his neighbors, Clark found farming a terrible struggle, leading him to name his farm “Poverty Flats.”

During Clark’s study of irrigation he became a major contributor to the theory and practice of irrigation in the Greeley area, and the door of prosperity began to open for area farmers. He and [Abner Baker], who later founded Fort Morgan, helped construct ditches between Fort Morgan and Brush, and Clark became director of the No. 2 canal that travels south of Timnath through to north of Greeley, and the Upper and Lower Platte and Beaver Canals near Fort Morgan. He also assisted James P. Maxwell, first Colorado State engineer, in devising plans to measure water for irrigation use among area farmers.

More South Platte Basin coverage here.


Laporte: Property owners to allow Greeley pipeline surveys on their land but vow to continue to fight the project

August 12, 2009

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Larimer County residents battling the city of Greeley’s plans to replace aging infrastructure have agreed to allow surveys for the project, according to a report from Monte Whaley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

Planning for the project to replace an aging, smaller line the city installed more than 50 years ago began in 2005. Greeley gets its water from the Poudre River after it’s treated at a plant in Bellvue, northwest of Fort Collins. The city went to Larimer County District Court to seize a portion of the Humstone property — as well as two other properties near Laporte — to allow crews to do exploratory drilling, seismic surveys and other work on the grade. In the settlement agreement, crews will be allowed onto the properties under certain conditions. They will do biological and archaeological studies, as well as some core drilling, Humstone said.

The grade, which dates to 1881, was part of the Greeley, Salt Lake & Pacific Railroad, which was built to haul locally quarried sandstone to construction projects and sugar-beet factories…

Greeley officials say taking the 30-mile pipeline along a public right of way would go through downtown Laporte. They also say they need to get on the properties to map out a plan to protect the historic structures. The agreement “will help determine the best route and to gather biological, historical, geotechnical and economic data for the Bellvue water pipeline project,” said Jon Monson, Greeley’s water and sewer director. “This settlement will be to the benefit and the best interests of everyone involved.”

More Greeley coverage here.


Larimer County: Historic preservation vs. new Greeley pipeline

June 17, 2009

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Here’s a look at the historic preservation side of the argument against Greeley’s new supply pipeline through Larimer County, from Monte Whaley writing for the Denver Post. From the article:

Brinks and Humstone bristle at the thought that a survey crew dared to show up on their land two years ago without permission. That was their first clue of Greeley’s intentions, and since then, they have allowed walking tours and nothing else. That has led Greeley to file for condemnation proceedings against Brinks, Humstone and one other property owner. The city wants a Larimer County judge to seize the properties to allow crews to do exploratory drilling, seismic surveys and other field work on what’s left of the grade, including 100 yards of track. This would lead to laying in a pipe of 5 feet diameter, 10 feet deep along a nearly 200-foot-wide right of way.

The women say the work would destroy the last remnants of northern Colorado’s railroad history. The grade, which dates to 1881, is on the National Register of Historic Places and was on Colorado Preservation Inc.’s 2009 list of endangered places.

Update: Here’s a look at the project through the eyes of Greeley’s Director of Water and Sewer, Jon Monson writing in the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

The Northern Segment is between northern Fort Collins and the Bellvue filter plant. The route that ranked best in minimizing cost, environmental impact and land use disruption bypasses much of LaPorte to the south. The other routes examined would have impacted up to 150 residences and businesses. Unfortunately, the best route we found could impact structures now on the National Historic Register. We are working with property owners and state and federal agencies to assess any potential impacts. If there are any adverse impacts to the structures, Greeley will seek ways to avoid, minimize or mitigate the impacts in accordance with federal law.


Greeley: New pipeline from LaPorte to Bellvue

June 2, 2009

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Here’s a report about Greeley’s efforts to build a new supply pipeline near LaPorte, from Jakob Rodgers writing for the Greeley Tribune. From the article:

The city department may ask for a court order to gain access to three properties whose owners have long contested the 30-mile pipeline, which would run from a water filtration plant in Bellvue to the Gold Hill Reservoir. The court order would not be used to build the pipeline, but rather to survey the land to determine the pipeline’s seismic and environmental impact. Jon Monson, director of the water department, said the department could seek the order sometime this summer. The 60-inch pipeline could bring an additional 50 million gallons of water a day to Greeley, whose residents consume roughly 54 million gallons of water a day during peak use in the summer. Evans and parts of Milliken and Windsor also would use water from the pipeline. About 15 miles of the $80 million pipeline already has been built and is in use, Monson said. As it stands, the water department is nearly at its 58 million-gallon-a-day capacity to transport water when also taking into account the 38 million gallons it transports from Boyd Lake. The current pipeline from Bellvue can transport roughly 20 million gallons of water a day.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.


Greeley: New pipeline from LaPorte to Bellvue

June 1, 2009

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

The Greeley City Council has given its water department authorization to seek a court order to gain access to three properties whose owners have not allowed work crews on to their land to conduct studies needed for the pipeline’s design. Fieldwork on the properties, such as land surveys, seismic testing and biological studies, is needed for engineers to determine the route of the pipeline across the properties and how to avoid damaging environmental and historic resources, said Jon Monson, director of Greeley’s water department. But some property owners say they don’t want the pipeline to cross their land and will continue to seek ways to block it. “We don’t want them to get a toehold,” said Rose Brinks, who has been battling the pipeline project for more than two years. “Once they get on here, there will be no stopping them.”[...]

Construction on more than half of the $80.5 million project is already complete.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.


Greeley pipeline: Protection of historic railroad grade impacting plans

February 28, 2009

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Here’s an update on Greeley’s plans to build a new supply pipeline along the route of the historic Greeley, Salt Lake and Pacific Railroad line, from Cherry Sokoloski writing for the North Forty News. From the article:

As it stands now, Greeley plans to build the pipeline along the route of the old Greeley, Salt Lake and Pacific Railroad line, a move that would likely destroy the historic resource. Some of the original tracks remain on the corridor, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mary Humstone of LaPorte, a historic preservationist and University of Wyoming professor, applied to have the railroad line designated as “most endangered.” The corridor was one of four places chosen for the 2009 list from 39 nominated sites. “I’m thrilled to get the designation,” said Humstone. “It shows that this is not just of concern to a small group of people in LaPorte and Bellvue. It broadens our case. This statewide organization is saying it’s really important to save these kinds of resources.” Humstone also noted that about 2,000 people, including county commissioners and state legislators, signed a petition urging Greeley to relocate the pipeline. “We’re going to keep pushing them to look at other routes,” Humstone said. The historic railroad line crosses property owned by her and her husband as well as other LaPorte residents.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.


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