WISE: Project will impact metro area’s water supply — 7News

Click on a thumbnail below for the WISE system map and Prairie Waters map.

@OmahaUSACE to begin ecosystem restoration project along Lower Boulder Creek

Lower Boulder Creek Restoration site map via Boulder County Open Space
Lower Boulder Creek Restoration site map via Boulder County Open Space

Here’s the release from the US Army Corps of Engineers (Omaha District):

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, in partnership with the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department, will hold a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction of an ecosystem restoration project along an approximately one-mile stretch of Lower Boulder Creek. The ceremony will take place on Thursday, October 8, starting at 12:30 p.m. MDT at the project site, which is located between N 109th Street and Kenosha Road in Boulder County approximately 3.5 miles west of the Boulder County-Weld County line and 8 miles east of the city of Boulder. Limited parking will be available along the Boulder County property access road located just east of the 109th Street Bridge. See attached map. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will take place at the Goodhue Farmhouse located at the Carolyn Holmberg Preserve, 2009 S. 112th Street, Broomfield, Colorado.

BACKGROUND: Lower Boulder Creek once meandered across a broad floodplain that supported numerous wetlands, streamside vegetation, and associated native fish and wildlife populations. Since European settlement, the project reach and its associated habitats have been dramatically degraded by activities including upstream development, water diversions, pollution, non-native species, and gravel mining. During past on-site mining activities, the project reach of Lower Boulder Creek was channelized, and earthen levees were constructed along portions of its banks, thus disconnecting the channel from its historic floodplain and creating an impoverished stream and riparian environment. The project area is currently in a highly degraded state, which without active ecological restoration would take decades or longer to improve.

In 2011, the Omaha District completed a feasibility study which identified a feasible project to restore habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife, restore wetland and stream values, reduce invasive species and provide other ecosystem improvements. A construction contract was awarded to American West Construction LLC of Denver, Colo. for $2.6 million, which includes realigning the one-mile section of Lower Boulder Creek to restore natural meanders, in-stream habitat, and the creek’s floodplain and planting native riparian, wetland, and upland grasses, forbs, trees and shrubs along the stream and within the floodplain to greatly improve wildlife habitat. The project is expected to be complete by Fall 2016.

Click here to go to the Boulder County Open Space website for all the inside skinny.

Final draft of #COWaterPlan will push action — Fort Collins Coloradoan

Barker Meadows Dam Construction
Barker Meadows Dam Construction

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

The Colorado Water Plan, more than two years in the making, reached the end of its final public comment period last week. Now, the Colorado Water Conservation Board is combing through an estimated 26,000 comments with the intent to respond to them and prepare a final draft for the Dec. 10 due date.

The hardest part, board members and water wonks say, will be whittling down the second draft’s 16-page list of goals into a shortlist of action items. The goals were derived from eight regional “basin implementation plans.”[…]

It’s too early to tell exactly which action items will make the cut for the final draft, but Eklund said it will prioritize conservation – the point at which every water conversation must start, as Gov. John Hickenlooper likes to say — and storage.

The plan will be action-oriented, Eklund said, although the document can’t directly instigate action. That power lies in the hands of Hickenlooper, government agencies and the Colorado Legislature. New water projects will need regional coordination and funding.

Fort Collins is part of the South Platte River Basin, which also includes Boulder, Windsor and Greeley. The South Platte Basin worked with the Metro Basin – Denver – to come up with a basin implementation plan.

The basin goals include:

  • Initiating new water storage projects, especially ones that integrate the South Platte River
  • Finding alternatives to buy-and-dry, or the municipal purchase of farm land for water use
  • Instilling stricter requirements for efficiency in plumbing fixtures, appliances and landscaping to conserve water
  • There’s one thing the final plan won’t include: a transmountain diversion project. The second draft included seven tough criteria for evaluating proposals for those kinds of projects, and none of the basin plans advocated for one…

    The [CWCB] wanted the plan to present a wide range of viewpoints in language that “you don’t need to be a Ph.D. water scientist to understand.”

    From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Nick Coltrain):

    Fort Collins’ state legislators will host a forum on the Colorado Water Plan on Saturday.

    The forum will include a panel discussion with local water experts and presentations. Time for audience questions, comments and ideas will follow. Sen. John Kefalas, and Reps. Joann Ginal and Jeni Arndt, all Democrats, will host the event.

    The free event will run from 10:30 a.m. until noon Saturday at the Old Town Library, 201 Peterson St., Fort Collins.

    Testing continues on Eldora mine seepage, but officials say spill isn’t toxic — Longmont Times-Call

    The Arcade Saloon in 1898 Eldora Colorado via WikiPedia
    The Arcade Saloon in 1898 Eldora Colorado via WikiPedia

    From the Longmont Times-Call (John Bear):

    Officials believe 4,500 gallons of orange water that leaked from an old Eldora-area mine into a creek Monday — prompting the shutdown of water intake systems downstream — is not toxic, but they’re still awaiting further test results.

    Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Lisa McClain-Vanderpool said Tuesday that the agency collected water samples to test for heavy metals associated with mines and expects the results in the next few days.

    McClain-Vanderpool said other tests conducted Monday showed the pH balance in the water — which would be affected by the presence of heavy metals — appeared to be within normal ranges.

    Boulder County spokeswoman Carrie Haverfield said a county hazardous materials team and Nederland town officials also tested the water Monday and didn’t find anything that raised alarms.

    Haverfield said that Boulder County is full of old mines, so some amount of seepage is likely.

    “We did call in the proper resources and take the proper precautions we needed to take to ensure the safety of our residents,” Haverfield said.

    McClain-Vanderpool added that the EPA and state mining and health officials visited the site Tuesday morning and are continuing to support local responders…

    County officials responded to the area Monday after a plug came loose from the historic Swathmore mine, located near the 900 block of Bryan Avenue in the Eldora townsite.

    Orange water flowed from the opening for about two-and-a-half hours on Monday, and officials temporarily shut down water intake systems for Nederland and Boulder while they tested the water.

    A news release said county officials had been previously made aware of seepage from the mine.

    The creek appeared orange on the bottom Tuesday afternoon, and a small culvert that runs into the creek was still full of rust-colored water and mud.

    #WISE Water Project Receives Unprecedented Statewide Support — South Metro Water Supply Authority

    WISE System Map via the South Metro Water Supply Authority
    WISE System Map via the South Metro Water Supply Authority

    Here’s the release from the South Metro Water Supply Authority (Russ Rizzo):

    The WISE water project today received unprecedented statewide support, becoming the first water infrastructure project in Colorado to receive funding from Basin Roundtables across the state.

    The Colorado Water Conservation Board approved $905,000 in state and regional grant funding for the WISE (Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency) project, including funds from seven of the state’s nine Basin Roundtables.

    “We are excited and grateful for the broad, statewide support for this important project,” said Eric Hecox, executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, which represents 13 water providers comprising most of Douglas County and a portion of Arapahoe County. “This is a significant part of our region’s plan to transition to a more secure and sustainable water supply, and benefits of WISE extend throughout the region and to the West Slope.”

    WISE is a partnership among Aurora Water, Denver Water and South Metro Water to combine available water supplies and system capacities to create a sustainable new water supply. Aurora and Denver will provide fully treated water to South Metro Water on a permanent basis. WISE also will enable Denver Water to access its supplies during periods when it needs to. All of this will be accomplished while allowing Aurora to continue to meet its customers’ current and future needs.

    “This project is reflective of the regional and statewide collaboration the State Water Plan calls for to meet the future water needs of Coloradans,” said former State Representative Diane Hoppe, chair of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “The broad financial support from Basin Roundtables across the state reflects the cooperation and smart approach that the Denver metro area’s leading water providers have taken.”

    The Basin Roundtables, created in 2005 with the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act, represent each of the state’s eight major river basins and the Denver metropolitan area. The grants are part of the state’s Water Supply Reserve Accounts program that assists Colorado water users in addressing their critical water supply issues and interests.

    Roundtables that have committed funds to WISE so far include:

    Metro Basin Roundtable
    South Platte Basin Roundtable
    North Platte Basin Roundtable
    Colorado Basin Roundtable
    Arkansas Basin Roundtable
    Gunnison Basin Roundtable
    Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable

    “The Colorado Basin applauds the WISE participants for their forward thinking and collaborative approach,” said Jim Pokrandt, chair of the Colorado Basin Roundtable, which includes Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs. “WISE benefits not just the Front Range but the West Slope as well. The project enables the metro region to re-use its trans-mountain supplies, thereby reducing the need to look to other regions for water supply. In addition, the WISE agreement is an integral part of the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement under which the West Slope receives funding to help meet our water project and environmental needs.”

    Construction on the WISE project began in June and will continue into 2016. When WISE begins delivering water in 2016:

    ●The South Denver Metro area will receive a significant new renewable water supply;
    ●Denver will receive a new backup water supply;
    ●Aurora will receive funding from partners to help offset its Prairie Waters Project costs and stabilize water rates; and
    ●The West Slope will receive new funding, managed by the Colorado River Water Conservation District, for water supply, watershed and water quality projects.

    Securing a Sustainable Water Supply for South Metro Denver

    South Metro Water and its 13 water provider members are executing a plan to transition to renewable supplies. The plan focuses on three areas: conservation and efficiency; infrastructure investment; and partnership among local and regional water suppliers.

    The region has made tremendous progress over the past decade, reducing per capita water use by more than 30 percent and adding new renewable water supplies and storage capacity that have significantly decreased reliance on nonrenewable groundwater.

    For details on the WISE project as well as South Metro Water’s plan to transition to renewable water supplies, visit http://www.southmetrowater.org.

    Big Thompson Watershed Forum’s 2015 Watershed Meeting: Thursday, September 24

    From the Big Thompson Watershed Forum via the Estes Park Trail-Gazette:

    The Big Thompson Watershed Forum (The Forum) will have its 14th Watershed Meeting, “FROM FLOOD TO FUTURE ~ RISING FROM MUD AND ASHES” on Thursday, September 24, 2015.

    The Big Thompson River watershed, an area encompassing over 900 square miles, provides drinking water to numerous cities in northern Colorado including Berthoud, Estes Park, Fort Collins, Fort Morgan, Greeley, Loveland and Milliken. The Big Thompson River watershed is vital to more than 800,000 people, as it carries water from the Colorado-Big Thompson Project (C-BT) to be used for residential, commercial, agricultural, ranching, recreation, and wildlife habitat purposes.

    We will welcome several great speakers and professionals with on-the-ground experience, research, and tales from the 2013 Big Thompson River flood. We will also be presenting the findings and results from our major water quality report and answering the question…. “is our water getting better or is it getting worse?” The assessment and presentation will discuss the findings from 15 years of data from the Forum’s most recent water quality analysis of the Big Thompson River and its major tributaries, and pre and post-flood water quality monitoring results.

    Panels & Topics for 2015…

  • Your River & Who Runs It ~ Functionality & Monitoring in the C-BT System
    Big Thompson Watershed Forum, Northern Water, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • The 2013 Flood ~ Impacts on Operations & Infrastructure
    City of Loveland, Northern Water, Larimer County
  • From Flood to Future ~ Rising from Mud and Ashes
    AloTerra Restoration, Big Thompson Conservation District, City of Loveland, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Colorado Water Conservation Board, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey
  • 2015 State of the Watershed Water Quality Report
    Big Thompson Watershed Forum, Hydros Consulting
  • The watershed meeting will be held at the Fireside Café, Group Publishing Building, Loveland, CO from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The cost is $50 per person and includes a continental breakfast, snacks, drinks, and Italian theme buffet lunch. Cash or check at the door please. Seating is limited. For additional details and to register, please contact Zack Shelley at 970-613-6163 or zshelley@btwatershed.org.

    Fly fishing below Olympus Dam (Colorado-Big Thompson Project) September 17, 2015 via the Bureau of Reclamation
    Fly fishing below Olympus Dam (Colorado-Big Thompson Project) September 17, 2015 via the Bureau of Reclamation

    #COleg Interim Water Resources Committee meeting recap: Storage needs cited #COWaterPlan

    South Platte River Basin via Wikipedia
    South Platte River Basin via Wikipedia

    Here’s a report from Marianne Goodland writing for The Colorado Statesman. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

    It’s [The need for more storage] a message the interim Water Resources Review Committee heard and acknowledged during the hearings, held Monday in Greeley and Tuesday in Aurora.

    Representatives of the Denver South Platte River area basin roundtables hammered on that desire, as did members of the public who spoke to the committee.

    The hearings solicited public input on the statewide water plan, now in its second draft. A final version is expected to be delivered to Gov. John Hickenlooper by Dec. 10…

    Much of the water shortage anticipated in the next three decades is likely to occur in the South Platte region, said Joe Frank, chair of the South Platte roundtable. He told the committee his roundtable needs a better understanding of those numbers and how much of the 400,000 acre-feet applies to the gap.

    Most of the South Platte gap will come from municipal and industrial needs, Frank said, and there’s also a gap for the agricultural sector, which dominates the eastern part of the state. Frank wound up on the hot seat with several West Slope lawmakers when he said his roundtable wants to preserve its “rights” to Colorado River water. It’s a sore subject for West Slope residents who fear the East Slope will seek more water from the Colorado River, which advocates claim is already over-appropriated. In response to several questions from state Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango and state Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, Frank said he didn’t believe taking more Colorado River water would dry up West Slope agriculture, and that he didn’t anticipate this would have to happen “tomorrow.”

    But storage is the major need for the South Platte and Denver Metro area, Frank told the committee. The basin already has a 300,000 acre-foot shortage for agriculture, reflected by wells that have been shut down all over the area. Without new storage, half the farmland that relies on irrigation could dry up. More than half of the identified projects in the South Platte/Denver basin plan are for storage, he noted.

    Coram also pointed out that 1 million acre-feet went out of state this spring to Nebraska, an amount that exceeded the legal contracts between Colorado and Nebraska. Everyone wants to keep that water, Frank replied, but they have no way to store it.

    Storage needs to become a much higher priority in the statewide plan, said state Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio, who isn’t on the committee but attended many of the hearings.

    But storage has always been a controversial topic in Colorado. Several storage projects have been killed because of opposition from environmental groups, including the Two Forks Dam, proposed in the late 1980s for the South Platte near Deckers. Environmental groups also are fighting a storage project on the Cache La Poudre River near Fort Collins — the Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP — which would put two reservoirs on the river.

    “We need to get past the controversy,” Frank said.