@ColoBIP — There is time to still get involved – Colorado Water Plan! Attend the Basin Roundtable meetings.

February 11, 2015

CWCB meeting recap: $29,000 for compliance study until Arkansas Valley Conduit is online

February 4, 2015
Arkansas Valley Conduit Comanche North route via Reclamation

Arkansas Valley Conduit Comanche North route via Reclamation

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

New state regulations are creating a headache for Arkansas Valley water providers who are banking on the Arkansas Valley Conduit to improve water quality.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board approved a $29,000 grant this week that will go toward a $70,000 program to create a working group to chart a course of action for 38 communities until the conduit is completed.

Water in many of the systems is contaminated by metals, salts and/or radionuclides and managing treatment of the water is more complicated because of recent solid waste regulations by the Colorado Department of Health and Public Environment.

That’s created a hardship because smaller private water companies do not have the resources to comply or even determine compliance and the state has not clearly explained what is or is not required. The regulation presumably covers disposal of by-products.

There are ongoing concerns about radionuclides, which affect 12 of the communities.

The $400 million conduit, which will move water from Lake Pueblo to Lamar and Eads, is seen as the best solution to the water quality problems for about 50,000 people. However, construction of the conduit might be a decade away from reality.

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District and Lower Arkansas Valley are contributing $7,500 each toward the project, as well as $27,500 in inkind services.

More CWCB coverage here.

Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention recap #COWaterPlan

February 3, 2015

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The game plan is in place.

The team has been conditioned.

It’s been a rough season.

The quarterback got beat up a little bit, but seems to be on a winning streak.

OK, it’s not football. But that is one way to get a first down as the state marches down the field to score with the Colorado Water Plan.

The goal line is still 10 months away, but at least no one has punted yet.

Much of the 2015 session of Colorado Water Congress last week in Denver was spent chewing over the details of the draft plan and discussing how it might actually be implemented.

At one point, Colorado Water Conservation Board Executive Director James Eklund — the “quarterback,” if Gov. John Hickenlooper is the coach — showed up with a deflated football, hoping it would not become emblematic of how the plan is put into place.

From the sidelines, others chipped in on coaching strategy during a panel about “A Plan of Action or a Paper Plan?”

“We’ve so far relied on the assumptions of the past and projections for the future,” said Jim Lochhead, CEO/manager of Denver Water. “We need to think in a totally different way. How do we manage supplies so there is not a crisis in the first place?”

For Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, the themes of the water plan are basic: uncertainty, legislative or regional gridlock and the difficulty in reaching a solution.

“We have to identify unacceptable outcomes,” Kuhn said. “It would be unacceptable not to have agriculture (for instance).”

But it was an environmental consultant who pointed out that managing the risk of uncertainty and making a decision are different processes.

“We have a system based on risk management,” said Dan Luecke, an environmental scientist who has been involved in state water issues for three decades. “When we face an uncertain future, we get less rational.”

While each of the panelists stressed cooperation moving forward, each clung to closely held past positions.

Lochhead argued for a streamlined regulatory process for water projects, but cautioned the audience not to bank on storage alone to solve water shortage problems. Conservation is also not a total answer: “Denver Water last year had its lowest consumption since 1967, with 500,000 more people.”

Luecke told CWC to take projects that import water from one basin to another completely off the table: “We can’t go elsewhere to get our water. Set that aside.”

Kuhn, whose district was part of a historic agreement with Denver Water over increased exports, argued for more agreement: “When we don’t have consensus in a fight locally, the feds are most likely to step in.”

Funding also was a big topic at the convention, with one workshop concentrating on public-private partnerships as a way to pay the bills, since federal and state sources are drying up.

“What we agree to fund may be a lot of money, but it has to be cheaper than the alternative,” Kuhn said.

Lochhead favored a fiscal approach.

“We should allow economics to work,” Lochhead said. “We have a dynamic (in which) everyone thinks about the worst possible things that could happen.”

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

Lower Ark pushes to make the value of agriculture more prominent in the #COWaterPlan

February 2, 2015

Arkansas River Basin via The Encyclopedia of Earth

Arkansas River Basin via The Encyclopedia of Earth

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Water that grows food also protects wildlife and provides fun for humans.

So the district formed to protect water in the Arkansas Valley wants to make agriculture more prominent in the state water plan.

The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District will push for a plank in the Arkansas Basin Roundtable implementation plan to strengthen its commitment to farms.

“It’s been a struggle to increase the awareness of the value of water,” said Beulah rancher Reeves Brown, who sits on both the Lower Ark board and the roundtable. “We’re emphasizing that the values of ag water go beyond just the economic value. It’s also water that you can raft, boat and fish on.”

Brown said the roundtable just last week received the long-term plan from the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, which includes finding more water from the Arkansas River over the next 50 years.

“The threat is out there,” Brown said.

“There are benefits of ag water to recreation and the community, not just making food,” said Lynden Gill, chairman of the Lower Ark board.

Jay Winner, general manager of the district, said a proposed statement should be accompanied by a way to measure the benefits of ag water to recreational and environmental uses.

“There are a lot of warm and fuzzy statements (in the water plan),” Winner said. “We’re trying to make a statement that’s precise.”

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

River district frets over flawed dam above Kremmling — Glenwood Springs Post Independent #ColoradoRiver

January 28, 2015
Wolford Mountain Reservoir

Wolford Mountain Reservoir

From the CWC Storytelling workshop.

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

The Colorado River District board of directors was told last week it is time to address the steady settling and movement occurring in Ritschard Dam, which holds back 66,000 acre-feet of water to form Wolford Mountain Reservoir, 5 miles upstream of Kremmling.

“The continued movement of the dam at Wolford Mountain Reservoir is the most important issue currently facing the River District,” states a Jan. 8 memo from John Currier, the chief engineer at the district.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

Connecting the Drops: #COWaterPlan discussion Sunday, January 25

January 23, 2015
Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

Colorado Water Plan website screen shot November 1, 2013

From email from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education:

Join radio listeners around Colorado for a statewide conversation on Colorado’s Water Plan during a live call-in discussion this Sunday January 25th from 5-6 pm.

Hear from:

  • James Eklund, Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board
  • Jim Pokrandt with the Colorado River Water Conservation District
  • Chris Woodka with the Pueblo Chieftain
  • Listen online or on the radio with KGNU, KRCC, KDNK and other community radio stations across the state. Your calls and questions will be welcome at 800-737-3030, engage online by emailing water@kdnk.org or join the discussion on Twitter using #cowaterplan. Hear about the basics of the water plan, how you can get engaged, what input is still needed and phone in to ask your questions and direct the discussion.

    Sunday’s program is part of Connecting the Drops, a collaboration between the Colorado Foundation for Water Education and Rocky Mountain Community Radio Stations.

    More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

    Arkansas Basin Roundtable hopes to score $865,000 to launch the Arkansas River Watershed Collaborative

    January 21, 2015

    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    A plan to coordinate efforts to prevent and respond to large burns in watersheds is spreading like, well, wildfire.

    The Arkansas Basin Roundtable last week agreed to ask the Colorado Water Conservation Board for $265,000 toward an $821,000 plan to launch the Arkansas River Watershed Collaborative.

    The funding includes three projects designed to reduce wildfire risk in separate parts of the Arkansas River watershed.

    Watershed protection is crucial to protecting water supplies, since fires destroy plants, ruin the ability of soil to absorb water and increase silt or debris during fierce runoffs.

    “The Arkansas River Watershed Collaborative started in response to the catastrophic wildfires of 2012-13,” said Mark Shea, a Colorado Springs Utilities employee who co-chairs the group.

    Those fires included the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires near Colorado Springs, the East Peak Fire near La Veta and the Royal Gorge Fire near Canon City, as well as many smaller fires.

    Earlier, there had been grassland fires on the Eastern Plains during the prolonged drought of the last few years.

    At the December roundtable meeting, Shea presented the case for coordinating wildfire response efforts throughout the entire Arkansas River basin to control fires.

    Since then, a full package of how the group would function has been prepared.

    “We’re planning to have a meeting in February to get folks started talking,” said Carol Ekarius, executive director of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte.

    The projects that would be funded by the state grant include mitigation in the Purgatoire, Cucharas and Tennessee Creek watersheds. They total about $110,000 of the state grant money, as well as $308,000 in matching funds from other sources.

    The rest of the funding will go toward organization, data collection, strategic planning and public outreach and education.

    More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.


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