Anniversary of the Colorado River Compact

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

hoover Colorado River Compact signing November 24, 1922. Credit: Courtesy U.S. Department of Interior

This year, as you’re brining your turkey or traveling to see family and friends, realize that today, November 24, is the 93rd anniversary of the 1922 Colorado River Compact signing.

Colorado’s Delph Carpenter joined with other members of the Colorado River Commission at the signing of the compact on this historical day. The signing took place in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover presiding.
From CFWE’s Citizen’s Guide to Colorado’s Interstate Compacts, with a updated version now available for preorder:

Alcompacts20smallthough subject to intense negotiation among the seven Colorado River Basin states, the compact, signed in 1922, is simple in concept. It apportions the right to consume water from the river and its tributaries between the upper basin states and the lower basin states. The dividing point between the…

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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.


Silverton, San Juan County leaders say ‘Let’s talk Superfund’ — The Durango Herald

Bonita Mine acid mine drainage
Bonita Mine acid mine drainage

From The Durango Herald (Ann Butler/Jonathan Romeo):

San Juan County commissioners and Silverton Town Board trustees on Monday voted unanimously to direct city staff members to pursue a Superfund listing with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to clean up leaking, inactive mines north of Silverton.

“We need to do what’s best for the town, the county, the environment and our downstream neighbors,” Silverton Mayor Chris Tookey said after the meeting, “and at this point, it appears (the National Priority List) will provide the most comprehensive cleanup in the shortest time frame.”

Last week, when Silverton officials announced they would propose the motion, it seemed to have unanimous support after they had toured several Superfund sites in Colorado with La Plata County commissioners and Durango city councilors. Part of their decision will be based on a promise from the EPA that the designation would not include the area inside the Silverton town limits.

“We approved staff and our attorney Jeff Robbins to engage in talks,” said Silverton Trustee Pete Maisel, who, along with San Juan County Commissioner Scott Fetchenhier, will serve as liaisons for the project of requesting a ranking on the Superfund National Priorities List.

The two governmental entities haven’t set any deadlines, and they don’t expect it to be a quick negotiation, he said.

“We’re hoping the Colorado public health department will take the lead on this,” Maisel said…

On Thursday, Silverton officials admitted the EPA’s hazardous cleanup Superfund program has many drawbacks – with uncertainty over funding, the potential for mistakes and inevitable clashing of opinions – but ultimately, they said, it’s the only viable option to improve water quality in the Upper Animas River Basin.

After the Superfund tour two weeks ago, San Juan County commissioners and Silverton Town Board trustees expressed a tangible shift of opinion toward Superfund. The listing has been largely supported by downstream communities.

“Over the last 25 years, (the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) and EPA have learned a lot about how to conduct these cleanups,” Tookey said. “After talking with people in other communities, we feel it is appropriate to engage in conversations with the two agencies about listing.”

From The Denver Post (Jesse Paul):

The decision puts the community closer to clean-up of the scores of abandoned mines that dot its surroundings and have been leaching contaminants into the Animas River watershed for more than a century.

“It’s a big step,” said Pete Maisel, a town trustee. “We are going to get the ball rolling.”

The news comes less than two weeks after representatives from Silverton and San Juan County spent three days touring four of Colorado’s largest mine Superfund sites as part of a fact-finding mission.

Leaders say the tour helped them decide to start working toward implementing Superfund.

Maisel and county Commissioner Scott Fetchenhier were elected to represent the Silverton community in talks with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment…

“We’ve done a lot of research, and it appears at this time that the national priorities list is the best way to get these mines cleaned up quickly,” Ernie Kuhlman, chairman of the San Juan County board of commissioners, said in a statement. “All of us — Silverton, San Juan and our downstream neighbors — want something done immediately.”

“We have a lot of hard conversations ahead of us about what this all will look like,” he added. “We want those talks to start as soon as possible.”

From the Associated Press via the Farmington Daily Times:

Silverton and San Juan County leaders voted unanimously Monday to direct city staff members to pursue a Superfund designation with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The tourism-dependent community has been wary of seeking a Superfund designation for nearly two decades, fearing stigma and red tape. Officials say a tour of four Superfund sites this month changed their minds, showing them that the process could be difficult but successful.

Silverton Mayor Chris Tookey told The Durango Herald that it appears that route would provide the most comprehensive cleanup in the shortest amount of time.

“We need to do what’s best for the town, the county, the environment and our downstream neighbors,” Tookey said after the vote.

A “get well soon” balloon floats in the contaminated waters of the Animas River flowing through Durango on Monday afternoon August 10, 2015 -- photo The Durango Herald, Shane Benjamin
A “get well soon” balloon floats in the contaminated waters of the Animas River flowing through Durango on Monday afternoon August 10, 2015 — photo The Durango Herald, Shane Benjamin

PAWSD refinancing saves district money; draft budget discussed — The Pagosa Sun

Pagosa Hot Springs
Pagosa Hot Springs

From The Pagosa Sun (Casey Crow):

Last month, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) refinanced its 2006 enterprise revenue and improvement bonds through the issuance of series 2015 enterprise revenue refunding bonds. The refinancing is slated to save the district $528,000 in interest payments over the next nine years.

According to Assistant Manager Shellie Peterson, PAWSD took advantage of interest rates that have dipped to historic lows to refinance the bonds, which total $5.26 million. With the refinancing, PAWSD will be paying an average true interest cost of just under 1.94 percent.

In addition to the savings over the next nine years due to the refinancing, PAWSD will also shorten its outstanding debt service payments by two years.

According to Peterson, the savings from the refinancing are realized directly by the district’s ratepayers.

Draft budget

PAWSD is currently working to finalize its 2016 budget. The district began budget talks in October, holding a public hearing on Oct. 15.

The draft budget was published online prior to the hearing. Some changes were made during budget talks in October, and changes will continue to be made until the budget is adopted in December.

The calculations are made based on the anticipated 2015 revenues and expenditures as compared to the projected 2016 revenues and expenditures.

BLM issues proposed plan for drilling, recreation around Roan Plateau — Denver Business Journal

From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Protor):

Nearly a year after settling long-running legal battles over oil and gas drilling on the Roan Plateau in western Colorado, the federal government on Tuesday issued a draft plan for how to manage recreation and drilling in the area.

The federal Bureau of Land Management issued a new plan to implement the agreement and announced it would be published in the Federal Register on Nov. 20, which will kick off a 90-day public comment period.

The document is called the “Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Roan Plateau Resource Management Plan Amendment.”

“For many years the Roan Plateau was a symbol of conflict in the American West,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze, in the BLM’s announcement.

Kornze credited local groups, state and industry representatives, as well and environmental and wildlife advocates for working to create a new future for the plateau.

“This draft document moves that vision forward and protects some of the state’s most important fish and wildlife habitat while also allowing for oil and gas development in places where it makes sense,” Kornze said.

Last year’s agreement canceled 17 of the 19 existing oil and gas leases that allowed drilling on top of the plateau, and refunded about $47.6 million that Denver’s Bill Barrett Corp. (NYSE: BBG) had paid for those leases.

The remaining two leases on the top of the plateau, as well as 12 leases around the base of the plateau, would remain in place.

Following the outline of last year’s agreement, the new plan bars drilling on top of the plateau, while retaining the others, the BLM said Tuesday.

The new draft plan also included two elements — “more robust” air quality analyses and an analysis of the request by nearby communities to require natural gas buried under the plateau to be accessed via wells started on private land or areas below the plateau. The second element was part of a 2012 order from federal district court…

Sportsmen’s groups said they were reviewing the draft EIS, but they hailed the BLM’s designation of last year’s settlement as its “preferred option” to manage the plateau’s resources.

“This keeps us moving toward a balanced, fair solution to protecting the Roan Plateau,” said David Nickum, executive director of Colorado Trout Unlimited, in a statement.

“We’re hopeful that the final management plan will preserve last year’s settlement, which protects the Roan’s best hunting and fishing habitat while allowing careful, responsible development of its energy reserves. Done right, we can meet both goals,” Nickum said.

This plan can protect the roan for all Coloradans,”

Pete Maysmith, the executive director of Conservation Colorado, said in a statement that the plan could protect the plateau “for all Coloradans.”

“We were very happy to reach a settlement last fall and seeing this plan move forward is a highly anticipated and encouraging next step to protect this amazing area,” Maysmith said.

The BLM said it plans to hold two public meetings in January 2016 to answer questions and accept written comments…

Public comments on the Draft SEIS need to be received by February 18, 2016.

Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board approves 2016 budget

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project via the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District
Fryingpan-Arkansas Project via the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A $22.5 million budget was reviewed Thursday by the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board.

The board will meet at 11 a.m. Dec. 3 to give final approval to the budget.

Most of the budget, about $12.3 million, goes toward repaying the federal government for construction of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. Of that, $5.3 million repays the Fountain Valley Conduit through an assessment only on the portion of the district in El Paso County, according to a presentation by Leann Noga, finance coordinator.

Districtwide, a 0.9 mill levy will collect about $7 million to repay the Fry-Ark debt. The rate will not change.

A total operating budget of $4 million is projected, funded by a 0.035 mill levy, specific ownership tax, enterprise contract revenues and grants.

The district’s primary projects in the coming year will be continued work on the Arkansas Valley Conduit, negotiating a federal contract for an excess capacity master contract to store water in Lake Pueblo and adding hydropower to the North Outlet Works at Pueblo Dam.

The hydropower project is a joint venture with Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo Water and is expected to total $5.2 million, but the cost is reflected in the Southeastern district budget since it is the lead agency.

Solar array powering Battlement water plant — The Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Solar panels, such these at the Garfield County Airport near Rifle, Colo., need virtually no water, once they are manufactured. Photo/Allen Best
Solar panels, such these at the Garfield County Airport near Rifle, Colo., need virtually no water, once they are manufactured. Photo/Allen Best

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Heather McGregor):

Bill Nelson and Michelle Foster, members of the Battlement Mesa Metro District board, cut a bright yellow ribbon Thursday to celebrate the completion of a solar array that will power the district’s water treatment plant.

“I am pleased with the fact that we have clean energy involved here. Solar is a wonderful source of energy,” said Nelson.

The array of 1,422 panels, rated at 440 kilowatts, will power all of the water treatment plant’s electrical demand on a yearly basis. Battlement’s is the fourth water plant in Garfield County to be net-zero for electricity, along with plants in Rifle, Silt and Carbondale.

“Solar energy is good for Garfield County,” said Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson, noting that solar arrays create employment and pay for themselves with energy production.

“Renewable energy diversifies and builds the economy,” said Stuart McArthur, Parachute Town Administrator and chair of Garfield Clean Energy.