Longmont Councillors opt for 10,000 acre-feet of Windy Gap water #ColoradoRiver #COriver

From the Longmont Times-Call (Karen Antonacci):

The Longmont City Council weighed adviser, resident and staff testimony about both future water needs and water rates and voted 5-2 Tuesday to go with one of the more expensive participation levels in the Windy Gap Firming Project…

The council voted to start the process of participating in the $387.36 million Windy Gap Firming Project at the 10,000 acre-foot level…

The decision before the council was whether to participate at the 6,000, 8,000 or the 10,000 acre-foot level. Staff in the past had recommended that 6,000 acre-feet of water is projected as enough to cover a one-in-100-year drought. The Longmont Water Board, meanwhile, urged council to participate at the more-expensive 10,000 acre-foot level.

Early in Tuesday’s meeting, Longmont residents spoke about the plan during the public comment portion of the meeting. Some, such as Jim Wilson, were against the idea that rates may need to increase beyond the already-approved annual 9 percent increase to pay for Longmont’s portion of the Windy Gap Firming Project.

The latest E-Waternews is hot off the presses from Northern Water

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

Spring Water Users Meeting
Northern Water’s annual Spring Water Users Meeting is sheduled for Wednesday, April 13, 2016, at The Ranch in Loveland.

The Spring Water Users Meeting is a forum to discuss the current water outlook and water-related issues, the Colorado-Big Thompson Project quota and updates on the Northern Integrated Supply Project and the Windy Gap Firming Project.

This spring’s meeting agenda also includes a presentation on the role of the Colorado Water Congress; activities of Metropolitan State University’s One World, One Water Center; and an update on the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program. The keynote luncheon speaker will be Mike King, former executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and currently the planning director for Denver Water.

To register for the meeting visit http://www.northernwater.org; view our April calendar and click Spring Water Users Meeting on April 13. There is a registration tab on the popup screen.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project Map via Northern Water
Colorado-Big Thompson Project Map via Northern Water

The latest “e-WaterNews” is hot off the presses from Northern Water

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

Snowpack and streamflow update
From now until the beginning of May, Northern Water will issue monthly snowpack and streamflow forecasts, which are available here. The Feb. 1, 2016, forecast showed Colorado’s statewide snowpack at 112 percent of average. The two river basins that Northern Water watches for forecasting are the Upper Colorado and South Platte, which were at 109 and 97 percent of average, respectively. Most basins throughout the state are near or above average for this time of year.

2016 spill?
Last year was the third largest spill from Lake Granby in Colorado-Big Thompson Project history. But will we see a spill in 2016? Maybe. Right now our water resources forecasters say it is a “bubble year,” meaning there is a 50/50 chance of a spill. Overall, it will depend on how much precipitation the higher elevations receive between now and spring runoff.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project Map via Northern Water
Colorado-Big Thompson Project Map via Northern Water

The latest e-News from Northern Water is hot off the presses

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

Snow accumulation season looks promising
Colorado’s 2016 snowpack is off to a good start. Most of the state’s river basins have above normal snowpack, and more importantly, above normal snow water equivalent readings. Northern Water monitors two river basins for forecasting – the Upper Colorado and the South Platte – which are at 99 percent and 105 percent of average, respectively, as of Jan. 14, 2016. Colorado’s statewide snowpack is 104 percent of average.

Precipitation in the mountains over the next few months will help determine the 2016 water supply. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a higher probability of above average precipitation for Colorado over the next three months. Beginning in February Northern Water will release monthly streamflow forecasts and which will be available here.

precipitationoutlook1217thru03312016cpc

The latest e-WaterNews from Northern Water is hot off the presses

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

2015 Water Year Comes to an End

The 2015 water year (Nov.1 – Oct. 31) started slowly, but precipitation later in the spring more than made up for it. April and May storms brought much needed moisture to the mountains and plains, and set in motion another very good water year for Northeastern Colorado.

Deliveries in 2015 were more than the record low year of 2014, but were still below average. This year the C-BT Project delivered 187,291 acre-feet to East Slope water users. The historical average is 211,000 AF. Deliveries to agricultural users spiked in late summer due to dry conditions. These late-summer deliveries also made space available in Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake, which will allow water to be transferred from Lake Granby to the East Slope this winter. This will also create space in Lake Granby for the spring runoff.

In 2015, the total C-BT Project spill was 191,000 AF, with 148,500 AF from Lake Granby and 42,500 AF from Willow Creek Reservoir.

C-BT Project reservoir levels started the 2016 water year in good shape with more than 500,000 AF in storage. The average for Nov. 1 active storage is 442,413 AF.

cbtstorage11012015

“My colleague likes to say, instead of one silver bullet, there’s lots of little silver BBs” — Liesel Hans

Tap water via Wikimedia
Tap water via Wikimedia

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

Thirteen gallons: It’s the volume of a standard kitchen trash bag, a 6-minute shower or a little more than a full tank of gas for a compact car.

And it’s the crux of Fort Collins Utilities’ vision for the city’s water use come 2030.

Average daily water use was 143 gallons per person in 2014. Utilities wants to reduce that to 130 gallons per person, a 9 percent cut, over the next 15 years.

The water saved would fill 2 1/2 Olympic-size swimming pools in just a year…

Conservation strategies laid out in a document released this month could affect your water bill, your lawn or even your toilet. And utilities staff hope a wide range of methods will prepare the community for inevitable dry spells in a semi-arid region vulnerable to unpredictable climate patterns.

“My colleague likes to say, instead of one silver bullet, there’s lots of little silver BBs,” said Liesel Hans, water conservation program manager with Fort Collins Utilities. “There’s a lot of ways to fit our goal, and it doesn’t have to be a one size fits all.”

Utilities is seeking feedback on its water efficiency plan update through Jan. 15. After resident and City Council review, the department will start making changes on a rolling basis in the coming months and years.

There are some big goals in the plan update, including:

  • Requiring more efficient plumbing and irrigation fixtures for re-developed homes and businesses.
  • Changing water rates to encourage conservation.
  • Increasing use of the online “Monitor My Use” tool, which shows users how much water they’re using on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. This helps customers see what time of day they’re using the most, among other features.
  • Revamping and spreading the Xeriscape Incentive Program, which pays residents to re-do their lawns with plants that conserve water.
  • Offering more rebates to businesses that conserve water.
  • Providing more education to increase community water literacy.

The strategies and their timelines are purposely vague because the department wants to hear what people think of them before deciding which ones to implement. And the plan targets residential and business use because both make up gluttonous portions of the water-use pie: Businesses account for 39 percent of water use in the district; homes account for 47 percent.

Utilities will “look at a wide range of options” for changing rates, Hans said, which could include changing the fixed rate, the variable rates or both…

Graphs of Fort Collins Utilities’ water demand over time tell a gripping story. Demand increased steadily as more people and businesses moved in during the 1990s. By 2000, the city was using more than 200 gallons per person per day to meet an annual demand of more than 10 billion gallons. That level of demand would fill Horsetooth Reservoir in about five years.

Then came the 2002 drought. Some people, including then-Gov. Bill Owens, called it Colorado’s worst drought in 350 years.

Fort Collins saw about 9 inches of rain that year, about 6 inches less than normal.

The historic drought got the city thinking about water conservation, Hans said. It wasn’t long before the utilities department switched to a “conservation-oriented” rate structure, so people who use more water pay a higher rate.

That change and other conservation efforts have helped the department cut use per person and in total. In 2014, annual demand was about 7 billion gallons, a 30 percent reduction from 2000 demand even as the city’s population swelled by 25 percent.

But progress has plateaued, Hans said, so her department hopes new methods — and a goal more ambitious than the original 2030 target of 140 gallons per person each day — will help galvanize next-level conservation.

A lot of the strategies involve building on existing programs that identify water leaks in homes, show residents how to more efficiently water their lawns, set efficiency goals for businesses and teach children and adults why water conservation matters.

Conservation fans say the 2030 water use goal is made more achievable by what seems to be an ingrained value for many in Fort Collins.

“We live in a semi-arid desert,” said Brian Werner, spokesman for the Northern Water Conservancy District — the agency that facilitates close to one-third of Fort Collins Utilities’ water supply.

“From Day 1, settlers realized you had to supplement what Mother Nature gave you if you wanted to grow crops. We were very conservation-oriented from the get-go.”

Julie Kallenberger, water education and outreach specialist for Colorado State University’s Water Center, added Colorado’s headwaters state status fosters more of a conservation-oriented mindset.

“Water becomes more of a topic because people understand how important it is,” she said. “I came here in ’02, and I immediately noticed it.”

Water efficiency plan

You can find the Fort Collins Utilities water efficiency plan at http://www.fcgov.com/utilities/residential/conserve/water-efficiency/water-efficiency-plan.

Dry August and September leaves Horsetooth at 61% of capacity

Horsetooth Reservoir
Horsetooth Reservoir

From the Fort Collins Coloradan (Jacy Marmaduke):

…consistently hot temperature and little rain put the big drain on in late summer, as farmers called for more irrigation water. The reservoir on Friday was 61 percent of capacity, which is 125 percent of the average for Oct. 16.

Northern Water spokesman Zach Allen said what all that means is the reservoir is in good shape heading out of the agricultural irrigation season.

High reservoir levels at the end of 2014 coupled with a wet spring meant farmers diverted less water from the reservoir during the spring and most of the summer, water resources manager Sarah Smith said. That allowed for an excellent boating season for most of the summer.

Irrigation reservoirs, like Horsetooth, generally fill up in spring with rain and snowmelt. As summer progresses, they are drawn down as farmers’ need for irrigation increases.

While Horsetooth is doing well, the Poudre River is flowing more slowly than usual for this time of year. On Friday at the mouth of the Poudre Canyon, the river was flowing 74.6 cubic feet per second. The average for this time of year is 92 cfs.

Slower flows are likely due to the dry weather and lack of rainfall during the last several months, Smith said.