The May 2016 E-Waternews is hot off the presses from Northern Water

Map from Northern Water via the Fort Collins Coloradan.
Map from Northern Water via the Fort Collins Coloradan.

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

State endorses the Windy Gap Firming Project
During Northern Water’s April 13 Spring Water Users meeting, Mr. John Stulp, Governor Hickenlooper’s water policy advisor, read a letter from the governor endorsing the Windy Gap Firming Project.

The governor said, “Northern Water and its many project partners have worked diligently, transparently and exhaustively in a collorabitve public process that could stand as a model for a project of this nature.” Hickenlooper continued, “This is precisely the kind of cooperative effort envisioned for a project to earn a state endorsement in Colorado’s Water Plan.”

The state’s endorsement followed the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s March 25 issuance of a 401 water quality certification for the WGFP. Project Manager Jeff Drager said, “This is the next to last step in getting the project permitted. The final step is the federal 404 wetlands permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which we believe will be forthcoming in the next few months.”

This is the State of Colorado’s first endorsement of a water storage project.

Loveland to work with CDOT on US 34 repairs — the Loveland Reporter-Herald

The Big Thompson River September 14, 2013 via The Denver Post
The Big Thompson River September 14, 2013 via The Denver Post

From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Saja Hindi):

For the Colorado Department of Transportation to be able to move forward with its first phase of construction on permanent repairs to U.S. 34, the agency will have to come to an agreement with the city of Loveland.

Part of the construction work for repairs after the 2013 flood will require crews to use some of the Loveland-owned properties, right-of-ways and easements in the Big Thompson Canyon.

Loveland City Council members will vote at their meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday on whether to allow CDOT to move forward with its work before the two entities come to a formal intergovernmental agreement in the next 90 days.

The meeting will take place in the Council Chambers in the municipal building at 500 E. Third St.

City Manager Bill Cahill said this will also be another chance for Loveland residents to ask any questions they may have about the permanent repairs on U.S. 34.

Cahill said although the city’s most commonly-known property in the canyon is Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park, it also owns land to the east and west of the park.

The first phase of the U.S. 34 reconstruction will first require rock blasting for a new roadway alignment at the horseshoe curve, west of Viestenz-Smith, where the city owns land.

“The Agreement will permit CDOT to move forward with construction prior to a final agreement on the value of the required Loveland right of way,” a City Council memo states.

Additional city property that CDOT will need to use as well as compensation to the city will be discussed at the July 5 City Council meeting.

Staff members have been working with CDOT officials for the past year on the best road alignment possibilities, according to the council memo.

“One key goal for road reconstruction is to create a safer and more resilient roadway alignment that works in harmony with the Big Thompson River. Eliminating the horseshoe curve west of the Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park (“VSMP”) is one of the greatest opportunities to accomplish this goal,” it stated.

The new alignment will cross through the Rosedale property, west of Viestenz-Smith, which the city owns.

Additionally, CDOT will need to move excess rock out of the canyon during the three-year reconstruction period, Cahill said, and is looking for a staging area and site to dispose of the rock spoils on the east edge of Round Mountain, south of U.S. 34 and Viestenz-Smith

Cahill said as more of the permanent plans are made for the roadway, there could be more possibilities near the city-owned properties for recreational opportunities along the river, falling in line with a longterm vision for the Big Thompson Canyon among Larimer County, its municipalities and CDOT.

For more information, go to http://cityofloveland.org.

Weld County considers new rules regulating water pipelines — The Greeley Tribune

Weld County courthouse via Wikipedia
Weld County courthouse via Wikipedia

From The Greeley Tribune (Catharine Sweeney):

The new water line regulations would require mostly anyone trying to move water through or out of Weld County to go through the use by special review — or USR — process.

This process gives the county commissioners and surrounding residents a say in the development. The commissioners can give conditional permission — forcing the builder to alter their plans. Usually, officials require more landscaping or other mitigation. The USR process also requires two public hearings — one in front of the planning commission and one in front of the county commissioners. Here, residents get three minutes each to air their grievances.

Because Weld doesn’t require a USR permit now, no one gets to weigh in on the projects. Residents, and perhaps even county officials, can get left in the dark.

“We just need to stay up to speed with the things coming in,” County Commissioner Mike Freeman said. “It comes back to protecting our surface owners.”

It will be the first discussion of at least three before the board can pass the rules. Officials can update or change the rules at any point before they’re passed.

Under the current proposed regulations, some organizations would be exempt from the permitting process.

Only companies or agencies building pipelines 16 inches or thicker will have to apply, said Weld County Attorney Bruce Barker.

“The intent is primarily to deal with the aspects of placing and siting a big water pipeline,” he said.

Weld agencies — such as cities and water districts — get some slack as long as the water is staying in the county.

The rules are gentler now than they were in the early stages, Barker said. County officials had stakeholder meetings with those agencies, and representatives let them know that although Colorado water regulations seem like they can handle a one-size-fits-all approach, they can’t.

“Major concerns in places like the Arkansas Valley don’t really apply here,” Barker said.

There aren’t the same level of power struggles over the water, so commissioners are pumping the breaks on the harsh language against moving water out of the county.

Before, the language had Greeley water officials worried.

“We’re always concerned with things that could affect us,” said Greeley Water and Sewer Director Burt Knight. “We’ve got a connection into Windsor, and Windsor extends outside of Weld County.”

They also have pipelines into other counties in case of natural disasters. The infrastructure is already in place so one can back the other up if water supplies get damaged.

“We’re OK with where they’re heading,” Knight said. “They were receptive to some of our comments.”

Indeed they were.

“There are some municipalities in Weld that get big water pipelines into the county,” Barker said. “Those are exempted.”

Greeley is exempt, but other towns trying to use Greeley’s water aren’t.

The city of Thornton started buying farms in the Eaton and Ault areas decades ago.

“Their goal was and still is to go ahead and dry those properties up,” Barker said.

It’s called buy and dry. Organizations buy farmland with water rights, go to water court and get the use changed. Then they use it for something else — such as municipal water.

Thornton’s water would come out of Weld and get pumped south to the city.

They’re gearing up to apply for the USR later this year, Barker said.

Oil and gas pipelines will see similar regulations, Barker said. But because county officials are already working on USR requirements for that industry, pipeline rules will get wrapped up in those laws.

Cache la Poudre watershed: Michigan Ditch bore on tap for summer

Michigan Ditch photo via AllTrails.com
Michigan Ditch photo via AllTrails.com

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

Winter is still hanging on in the cold, high mountains around Cameron Pass.

But that hasn’t stopped Fort Collins Utilities from working on a critical project for the city and its residents.

Crews have been clearing snow from the Michigan Ditch Road and the ditch running next to it since around April 1. This is normal procedure given the need to move water along the ditch to city-owned Joe Wright Reservoir, which sits east of the pass along Colorado Highway 14.

But this year the work is a little different. It is being done in anticipation of closing a section of the road to allow construction of a tunnel that would carry the ditch to its destination.

A contractor hired by the city will use a custom-made tunnel boring machine, or TBM, to carve an 800-foot-long, slightly curved path through solid rock. The tunnel will have an 8-foot diameter.

Crews will work seven days a week, 12 hours a day on the project. The boring machine is expected to churn through up to 20 feet of rock a day, said Owen Randall, chief engineer for Fort Collins Utilities.

Once the tunnel is dug, a 60-inch pipe made from a fiberglass-type material will be installed and connected to the ditch, which originates in the upper Michigan River basin.

The TBM, which looks like it could be part of the International Space Station, will be 27 feet long and weigh 58,000 pounds. It will have an operator inside to “drive” it and a conveyance belt and ore cars running out the back to carry away rock chewed up by its massive rotating cutting head.

The machine costs $1.8 million. The city will rent it for $900,000, Randall said, since there’s really no reason for the city to own that kind of machine. When its work is done, it will be sent back to the manufacturer for refurbishing and other jobs.

All this effort is needed because a slow-moving but unstoppable landslide has been roughing up the ditch and its pipeline for some years. Rather than constantly repairing slide damage, which was especially severe in 2015, city officials decided to pay the price to protect the pipe by sending it through rock the slide can’t budge.

The project, including design and construction, is expected to cost Fort Collins Utilities about $8.5 million.

But given that the value of the water the ditch moves (and the rights to that water) is more than $100 million, city officials believe the investment is worthwhile.

The TBM is expected to be delivered and ready to launch in June. Weather and scheduling permitting, the ditch is expected to be operational in time for the 2017 spring runoff.

For more information on the project, see http://fcgov.com/michigan-ditch-tunnel.

Boring machine photo via https://www.herrenknecht.com
Boring machine photo via https://www.herrenknecht.com

2016 #coleg: Two CCGA-supported water bills see success during the 2016 Colorado Legislative Session

Flood irrigation in the Arkansas Valley via Greg Hobbs
Flood irrigation in the Arkansas Valley via Greg Hobbs

From the Colorado Corn Growers Association:

Colorado House and Senate leaders found common ground on two CCGA-supported state bills — House Bill 16-1228 and House Bill 16-1256 — that had each passed through the 2016 Colorado Legislative Session in recent weeks, but came out of the two chambers in varying versions.

With concurrence, though, from both Senate and House leaders in more recent days, both bills are on their way to the governor for his signature.

The 2016 Colorado Legislative Session ended at midnight on May 11.

House Bill 16-1228, “Ag Protection Water Right Transfer Mechanism,” would authorize owners of ag water rights to seek change-in-use decrees, allowing the transfer of up to 50 percent of the water subject to that water right, to any beneficial use for renewable one-year periods, without designating the specific beneficial use, if the owner obtains a substitute water supply plan, and other conditions are met.

House Bill 16-1256, “South Platte Water Storage Study,” would require the state to conduct or commission a study of the South Platte River Basin to determine, for each of the previous 20 years, the amount of water that has been delivered to Nebraska in excess of what’s required under compact. The study must also include locations that have been identified as possible sites for new reservoirs within the South Platte River Basin, between Greeley and Julesburg.

Denver City Council Passes Ordinance to Allow Graywater Use

graywatersystem

Here’s the release from the City of Denver:

[May 2], Denver City Council passed an ordinance that makes Denver the first city in the state to allow the use of gray water for residential, commercial and industrial purposes.

Graywater is defined as the portion of wastewater that is collected from fixtures within residential, commercial, industrial buildings, or institutional facilities for the purpose of being put to beneficial use, and can be collected from bathroom and laundry room sinks, bathtubs, showers, and washing machines. Graywater can be used to flush toilets or urinals, or for subsurface irrigation of non-agricultural crops.

In 2013, the Colorado State Legislature authorized the use of graywater in Colorado, providing local health departments with the ability to monitor and regulate the use and treatment. In 2015, the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission adopted 5 CCR § 1002-86 (“Regulation 86”), which permits local governments to adopt an ordinance authorizing the use of graywater.

Denver’s ordinance was developed by Denver’s Department of Environmental Health, in coordination with Community Planning and Development and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. This also marks the completion of one of the commitments announced by the City at last December’s Sustainable Denver Summit.

“Water is a precious resource in Colorado and as Denver’s population grows, water conservation will be of continued importance. We’re excited to be the first to pass a measure that gives our residents and businesses the ability to save resources and money at the same time,” says Mayor Michael B. Hancock.

A graywater program will support the City’s 2020 Community Sustainability Goal for Water Quantity of reducing per capita use of potable water in Denver by 22 percent by providing a new option to conserve water.

Large facilities that have high uses of water from showers and laundry and high water demand for toilet flushing such as hotels, multi-family residential, and dormitories, could realize more significant cost savings.

It is anticipated that the greatest demand for graywater will come from new hotels, multi-family residential facilities, dormitories, and buildings pursuing a green building certification.

The Board of Environmental Health is expected to approve rules and regulations in late summer describing how the program will be implemented. Participation in the program will be completely voluntary.

Video: State of the River | May 4, 2016 | Silverthorne Pavilion