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This summer has been a hot one, but the sizzle doesn’t have to burn out your water-wise mindset.
Here are recommended lawn watering times for August:
Fixed spray heads: 14 minutes per zone
Rotary/high-efficiency nozzles: 34 minutes per zone
Rotor heads: 27 minutes per zone
Manual sprinklers: 20 minutes per zone
On watering days — limited by the rules to no more than three a week — you can make each minute matter by cycling and soaking. Water when the time is right, which is easy if you remember that time never falls between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Water only when your lawn needs a drink. Besides wasting water — and your money — overwatering can lead to weeds, disease and dreaded fungus.
And here’s a hot tip for smart savings indoors: Our rebates changed this year, so be sure to look up which toilets qualify for rebates before you buy. Only WaterSense-labeled toilets averaging 1.1 gallons or less per flush qualify for a $150 rebate. With a little bit of research, you and your new rebate-worthy throne can rule the world of efficiency.
The local water district agreed Tuesday to manage the financial aspects of a study of water storage potential on the South Platte River basin. The study is the first project in eastern Colorado to result from the Colorado Water Plan that was presented to Gov. John Hickenlooper in November 2015.
The study is mandated by HB 16-1266, which is the first legislation to emanate from that water plan.
The Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District Board of Directors voted Tuesday to allow the district and its staff to act as “fiscal agent” for the $211,168 study, which is to be completed by November 2017. As fiscal agent, the district will assure that the grant money is paid to the appropriate contractors in a timely manner. In return, it will charge a fee of 5 percent, or about $10,500.
The board also got its first look at a revised version of the scope of work for the study. A primary point of discussion Tuesday was just what part of the basin will be studied. Joe Frank, manager for the district, pointed out that while the law authorizing the study specifies that the study is to “Evaluate sites in the Lower South Platte Basin from Greeley to Julesburg,” it also allows for the inclusion of “promising sites in other parts of the Basin.” However, Frank said, it’s doubtful that many promising sites can be found above Greeley because of population density.
“They’re going to have to narrow it down to ten or so sites, because the grant is only so big,” Frank said. “I think they’re going to have to look at the most promising sites between Greeley and Galesburg.”
Faced with three different financing mechanisms for Longmont’s $47 million portion of the Windy Gap Firming Project, the council chose to gather more information from the public first.
Longmont public works and natural resources staff told the council on Tuesday that they have three options to finance the $47 million — completely through rate increases, through rate increases and by issuing $6 million in debt or by issuing $16.7 million in debt.
The decision directly affects Longmont residents’ wallets. Essentially, paying cash up front with rate increases means steep rate jumps in the next two years but is cheaper in the long term.
If the council chooses eventually to finance it completely through cash, water rates will need to jump 21 percent in 2017 and 22 percent in 2018, including 9 percent increases already approved.
Debt, on the other hand, would cause milder rate increases for more years, and cost the city more long term.
On the other end of the extreme, council could choose to ask the voters to issue $16.7 million in debt for the project, which would mean delaying adding an additional increase to rates until 2018. In 2018, they would need to be raised 14 percent and another 14 percent in 2019, then between 5 and 7 percent each in years between 2020 through 2026.
With a projected 4.25 interest rate, a $16.7 million bond would cost an additional $8.4 million in interest, for a total of $25.1 million over 20 years.
In the middle of the two extremes is an option of a mix of cash and debt. The City Council could vote to issue up to $6 million in debt to finance Windy Gap without a vote of the general public. This would cause water rates to jump 17 percent each in 2017 and 2018, by zero percent in 2019 and between 4 and 7 percent each in years between 2020 to 2027.
Dale Rademacher, general manager of public works and natural resources, told the council that staff has timed it out so that the city wouldn’t lose any of the options by commissioning a survey of residents on the Windy Gap financing issue…
The council opted to commission a statistically valid survey be sent to 3,000 randomly chosen Longmont households explaining the three options.
Here’s the release from Larimer County (Kerri Rollins):
Larimer County Department of Natural Resources purchased a 211-acre farm southwest of Berthoud, along with its valuable water rights. The deal closed Monday, August 8.
Using Help Preserve Open Spaces sales and use tax dollars, Larimer County Department of Natural Resources purchased the property, known previously as the Malchow Farm, to conserve its agricultural, historic, scenic, community buffer and educational values. General public access is not permitted at this time. Larimer County plans to continue leasing the property as an active agricultural farming operation.
The Town of Berthoud provided $100,000 to Larimer County to help purchase the farm, which will also help leverage a potential Great Outdoors Colorado funding request being submitted later this month.
“We’re excited to acquire this farm and its myriad of conservation values,” said Gary Buffington, director of Larimer County Department of Natural Resources. “The property helps us further our mission to conserve working lands and foster an appreciation for our agricultural heritage in Larimer County.”
This property is located one mile southwest of Berthoud, just north of the Little Thompson River and adjacent to U.S. 287 on the highway’s west side. It consists of high-quality agricultural soils, with approximately 188 irrigated, 18 pasture and 5 farmstead acres. Located just north of the Larimer-Boulder county line, the property serves as a gateway to Larimer County and a doorstep to the town of Berthoud, with sweeping views of Longs Peak and the Front Range. The property contains several historic features, including a pioneer gravesite, beet shack and a big red barn that can be seen for miles. The Overland Trail once crossed the property.
The property, infrastructure and minerals were purchased along with the valuable water rights, including 240 units of Colorado-Big Thompson, or C-BT, water, 16 shares of Handy Ditch native water rights and 20 shares in Dry Creek Lateral Ditch.
Larimer County is actively seeking partners to engage in a water sharing agreement on this property that will provide partnership funds toward the purchase of the water, keep the farm in active production and allow water partners to share some of the water in drought years. This water sharing agreement, known as an Alternative Transfer Mechanism, or ATM, is a cooperative solution encouraged by the Colorado Water Plan to share water across uses without permanently drying up high-quality working farms, such as this farm near Berthoud.
Larimer County has developed a stewardship plan for the property and will develop a full management plan with public input within the next several years. The property was purchased from the Malchow family, but an official name for the property, now that it’s a Larimer County open space, will be chosen at a later date. Public tours of the property are planned for later this year.
For additional information, contact Kerri Rollins, Open Lands Program manager, at (970) 619-4577.
Larimer County now officially owns the 211-acre Malchow farm south of Berthoud and its associated water rights — a unique agreement that includes a water sharing component.
The $8.4 million sale from the Malchow family to the Department of Natural Resources closed Monday.
The county bought the property to conserve its agricultural, historic and scenic values and plans to continue leasing the fields as an active farm.
One unique aspect of the sale was that the county also bought the water rights, including 240 units of Colorado-Big Thompson water, with the intention of entering into a water sharing agreement.
Under such an agreement, the farm may vary its crops over several years, so in drought years, some of the irrigation water can be sold.
This allows the farm to stay in production for the long-term and is an arrangement encouraged by the Colorado Water Plan.
The farm is located along U.S. 287 one mile southwest of Berthoud, and along with rich farmland, it includes historic buildings and a pioneer grave site believed to be tied to the Overland Trail, which once crossed the property…
The farm will not immediately be open for public access. However, a management plan that will be developed within the next few years could include an educational component in which the farm may be used to teach the public about agriculture.
The town of Berthoud pitched in $100,000 toward the purchase of the property, and Larimer County will be applying for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant to help with the cost.
A new long-term plan by the South Metro Water Supply Authority, which serves 13 water providers in the greater Denver-Aurora area, avoids any mention of taking water from the Arkansas River basin.
That’s significant, because the group’s 2007 master plan included two possible pipeline routes from the Arkansas River basin as a way of filling future water supply needs. Located in some of the fastest-growing areas of Colorado, South Metro’s population increased to 325,000 in 2016 from 250,000 in 2005.
South Metro communities were built on water from the Denver Basin aquifer, but began shifting their focus to finding new renewable supplies, conservation and increasing efficiency as ways to stretch their supplies.
“I think our members wanted to focus on projects that are on a foreseeable timetable,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of the authority. “The study confirms our region’s tremendous progress toward securing a sustainable water future. There is more to be done, but there is no question we are on the right path.”
With Pure Cycle’s sale of its Fort Lyon Canal water rights last year, no South Metro member has any projects planned in the Arkansas Valley. Pure Cycle is connected to the emerging Rangeview district east of Aurora.
Annual demand for South Metro is expected to more than double to 120,000 acre-feet (39 billion gallons) by 2065. Increased storage, expanded use of the WISE agreement with Denver and Aurora and continuing conservation efforts are expected to fill 38,400 acre-feet in the next 50 years.
The WISE agreement allows South Metro areas to reuse return flows from the Denver area through Aurora’s Prairie Waters Project. Reuter-Hess Reservoir and the East Cherry Creek Valley pipeline have opened new ways to use water. Per capita use in the South Metro area has decreased 30 percent since 2000.
Another 30,000 acre-feet annually of new supplies still are needed by 2065, according to the revised master plan released Tuesday. About two-thirds of that supply is identified in existing projects, but the plan proposes finding the remainder through cooperative agreements with other users in the South Platte and through the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, Hecox said.
Finally, individual members of the South Metro group are developing innovative solutions. For instance, Sterling Ranch is harvesting rainwater and incorporating conservation into land-use design. Other communities have initiated landscape regulations and some are even paying property owners to remove turf or plants that use excessive amounts of water. Some rate structures have been changed to promote conservation.
The new plan fits in with Colorado’s Water Plan, which seeks collaborative solutions rather than buying agricultural water rights and drying up farmland.
“A remarkable transformation is happening in the South Metro region,” said James Eklund, executive director of the Colorado Water Conservation board. “Colorado’s Water Plan calls for innovative water management and this study demonstrates how this important region is transitioning to a more sustainable water supply.”
Here’s the release from the South Metro Water Supply Authority:
SMWSA Master Plan shows tremendous progress transitioning to renewable water
South Metro region now a state leader in conservation, efficiency and reuse
Hecox: ‘More to be done, but there is no question we are on the right path’
The South Denver Metro region has made tremendous progress securing a sustainable water future over the past 12 years thanks to aggressive efforts to conserve water, maximize efficiency and invest in renewable water supplies, according to the results of the 2016 South Metro Water Supply Authority (SMWSA) Master Plan Update.
“A remarkable transformation is happening in the South Metro region,” said James Eklund, director of the state’s water agency and architect of Colorado’s Water Plan. “Colorado’s Water Plan calls for innovative water management and this study demonstrates how this important region is transitioning to a more sustainable water supply.”
The report, produced by SMWSA and its technical consultant, CH2M, is the most definitive study of water demand and supplies of the region in nearly a decade.
“The study confirms our region’s tremendous progress toward securing a sustainable water future,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of SMWSA. “There is more to be done, but there is no question we are on the right path.”
Historically many communities in the region relied on nonrenewable groundwater from the Denver Basin Aquifer system for much of their water supply. For some, it was their only water supply as recently as 12 years ago. The significant decline in groundwater levels was unsustainable and threatened to undermine the region’s economic vitality and overall quality of life.
Recognizing the challenge, water providers joined forces in 2004 to create SMWSA and develop a plan. The result of that work to date is outlined in the Master Plan update:
Transition to renewable water: In 2004, less than half of the region’s water supply came from renewable sources. By 2020, more than three-fourths (78 percent) of the region’s water supply will come from renewable water supplies, according to the study. This marks a significant transformation of the region’s water supply. By 2065, a full 85 percent of the region’s supplies will come from renewable sources, according to the study. Notably, this progress is being made despite a projected 130 percent increase in total water demand over the same period.
Investment in renewable water projects: This transition to renewable water is the result of a number of regional projects that communities throughout the region have invested in, including WISE, the Chatfield Reallocation Project, Reuter Hess Reservoir, the ACCWA/ECCV Northern Project, Castle Rock’s Plum Creek Water Purification Facility and many more.
Leading in conservation: The South Metro region has established itself as a leader in conservation and water stewardship with some of the strongest and most effective conservation efforts of any region in the state. Per capita water demand in the region decreased by 30 percent since 2000. The region now boasts among the lowest consumption rates in the state.
Maximizing efficiency: SMWSA and its members are maximizing water efficiency by reusing water to the fullest extent possible. “This is tremendous progress given the immense water challenges the region faced just 12 years ago,” said Mike Fitzgerald, president and CEO of the Denver South Economic Development Partnership. “We are on a path to a secure and sustainable water supply, which is critical to maintaining our region’s excellent quality of life and economic vitality for future generations.”
More Work Ahead
While the region is on track to meet projected demand as far out as 2065, more work is needed to ensure that happens, Hecox said.
Future possible projects and plans include adding new supply and storage, groundwater management, conservation and efficiency.
“We must execute on current plans, continue our conservation efforts, build our renewable supplies and maximize what we have through reuse,” Hecox said. “If we continue the course, we will deliver on our promise of a secure water future for the region.”