#ColoradoRiver: The Grand River Ditch — Greg Hobbs #COriver

The Grand River Ditch

A State Engineer Map of 1907-8 shows the Grand River Ditch diverting from Water District 51, upper Colorado River drainage, across the Continental Divide into Water District 3 in the upper Poudre River drainage (shown in red middle left hand side); also showing Chambers Lake (upper left hand side of map)

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July 20 inspection of Grand River Ditch led by Dennis Harmon, General Manager, Water Supply and Storage Company. From left to right Randy Gustafson (Water Rights Operation Manager, City of Greeley), Dennis Harmon, and Michael Welsh (Historian, University of Northern Colorado).

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The Grand River Ditch has an appropriation date of 1890 for 524.6 c.f.s of water diverted from the Colorado River Basin to irrigate 40,000 acres of land in the Poudre Basin through the Larimer County Ditch. The water flow of the ditch is continuously measured at this gauging station on La Poudre Pass.

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West of the Divide, the Grand River Ditch contours towards and around the Never Summer Range in Rocky Mountain National Park (established in 1915 after construction of the Grand River Ditch) for 14.77 miles to Baker Gulch.

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A wetland at the western side La Poudre Pass,

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gives birth to the baby Colorado River.

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Discarded horse slip scrapers bolted together perhaps to armor the spillway of a small now-breached dam in the vicinity of the ditch.

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The Grand River ditch is located above the Little Yellowstone Canyon with spectacular views of the Never Summer Range.

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The mining town of Lulu City was located down in the valley where, not far beyond, Lake Granby now gathers water for delivery east to Northern Colorado through the Adams Tunnel.

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In the early 21st Century a stretch of the Grand River Ditch was washed away and repaired. Rehabilitation of the mountainside is proceeding under supervision of the National Park Service. Water Supply and Storage Company contributed $9 million in settlement of NPS claims.

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The easement Water Supply and Storage Company owns for the Grand River Ditch also serves as a hiking path along a number of gushing creeks.

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The ditch is fitted with gates that are opened to bypass creek water after the summer season comes to a close.

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The water flowing through La Poudre Pass drops into Long Draw Reservoir located in the Roosevelt National Forest east of the Continental Divide.

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Moose and deer share wetland meadows of a long summer evening.

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Water Supply and Storage Company stores Poudre River water in Chambers Reservoir.

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Greg Hobbs and Dennis Harmon on the Continental Divide.

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Greg Hobbs, July 20, 2016.

#Colorado Springs: “Sustainable stormwater funding and management is not optional” — John Suthers

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Click here to read the plan.

Here’s the release from the City of Colorado Springs:

The City of Colorado Springs today released the draft Stormwater Program Improvement Plan designed to dramatically improve the city’s infrastructure and meet federal requirements.

City Public Works Director Travis Easton provided this statement.

“Today the City of Colorado Springs has released a draft Stormwater Improvement Plan. This is significant for our stormwater program, our citizens, and our City. The draft Stormwater Program Improvement Plan reflects strong leadership by the Mayor and City Council. We began this effort last fall and we reached a preliminary draft in January. Today’s release includes updates through July 2016.

“The City’s Public Works Department would appreciate the public’s comments and suggestions for improvement of the plan over the next 60 days. We will take public input into account and release the Plan in final form shortly thereafter.

“Thank you in advance for helping to shape this plan, and being a part of the process.”

Individuals wishing to provide feedback on the plan can contact Richard Mulledy, the City’s Stormwater Division Manager at stormwater@springsgov.com or by mail to: Richard Mulledy, Stormwater Division Manager, City of Colorado Springs, 30 S. Nevada Avenue, Suite 401, Colorado Springs, CO 80901.

The City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities have committed to investing a total of $460 million over 20 years, beginning this year. The commitments essentially replace the city Stormwater Enterprise that was defunded in 2009.

“Fixing the stormwater issues that we inherited stemming from the dissolution of the stormwater enterprise has been a top priority for me and the City Council,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. “Sustainable stormwater funding and management is not optional – it is something that we must do to protect our waterways, serve our downstream neighbors, and meet the legal requirements of a federal permit.”

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Colorado Springs this week released its draft stormwater plan, which was spurred earlier this year by negotiations with Pueblo County commissioners over permits for the Southern Delivery System.

The 305-page implementation plan mirrors the terms of an intergovernmental agreement, outlining at least $460 million in expenditures over the next 20 years and restructuring the city’s stormwater department. It was released Wednesday on the city’s website (http://coloradosprings.gov).

It’s important to Pueblo because work within Colorado Springs is expected to reduce damage along Fountain Creek.
Work already has started on some of the projects that are expected to benefit Pueblo County as well as Colorado Springs. A total of 61 of the 71 critical projects have downstream benefits to Pueblo and other communities, in a March assessment that included input from Wright Water Engineers, which has been hired by Pueblo County as consultant for Fountain Creek issues.

That list can change, depending on annual reviews of which work is needed, according to the IGA.

The plan also attempts to satisfy state and federal assessments that the existing stormwater services failed to meet minimum conditions of the city’s stormwater permits. An Environmental Protection Agency audit last year found Colorado Springs had made no progress on improving stormwater control in more than two years.

This year, Colorado Springs formed a new stormwater division and plans on doubling the size of its stormwater staff.

The plan includes a funding commitment of $20 million annually by the city and $3 million per year by Colorado Springs Utilities to upgrade creek crossings of utility lines.

The plan acknowledges that Colorado Springs significantly cut staff and failed to maintain adequate staffing levels after City Council eliminated the city’s stormwater enterprise in 2009. Pueblo County suffered significant damage, including the washout of part of Overton Road and excess debris in the Fountain Creek channel through Pueblo, during prolonged flows last May.

Other parts of the Pueblo County IGA expedited funding for flood control studies and projects by the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District, as well as providing an additional $3 million for dredging in Pueblo.

#Colorado Springs to spend $460 million on Storm Water Improvement Plan — KRDO

Channel erosion Colorado Springs July 2012 via The Pueblo Chieftain
Channel erosion Colorado Springs July 2012 via The Pueblo Chieftain

From KRDO:

The city of Colorado Springs plans to spend around $460 million over the next 20 years on its Storm Water Improvement Plan.

To see the plan, click here

The city is asking anyone in the community that has suggestions or comments regarding this plan to contact Richard Mulledy, the City’s Stormwater Division Manager at rmulledy@ springsgov.com or by mail to: Richard Mulledy, Stormwater Division Manager, City of Colorado Springs, 30 S. Nevada Avenue, Suite 401, Colorado Springs, CO 80901.

Mesa County District Court Judge David Bottger denies injunction, stormwater fee collection to continue

Bicycling the Colorado National Monument, Grand Valley in the distance via Colorado.com
Bicycling the Colorado National Monument, Grand Valley in the distance via Colorado.com

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

A second round of invoices will go out in early August from the Grand Valley Drainage District to residents and businesses that have yet to pay their bills for the handling of stormwater — a charge that got a boost Tuesday from a court ruling.

Mesa County District Court Judge David Bottger rejected a request by Mesa County and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce for a preliminary injunction that would have halted the district from collecting the charge, which for most residents is $36 a year.

“Collection of the fee will allow (the drainage district) to better fulfill its statutory obligations to the businesses and residences it serves in the Grand Valley,” Bottger wrote in a 14-page opinion in a case in which the question of whether the charge is a tax or fee is central. “Thus, an injunction will more likely disserve than serve the public interest. For the same reasons, the equities weigh in favor of denying the injunction.”

The drainage district board had approved printing and mailing bills to delinquent property owners earlier Tuesday morning, said district General Manager Tim Ryan.

The district has an obligation to those who already have paid the fee to collect from those who haven’t, Ryan said.

The need for the projects that the district is planning hasn’t lessened either, Ryan said.

County and chamber officials said they were disappointed, but not deterred.

No one disputes that the Grand Valley needs to deal with stormwater, said Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis.

“We’ve taken that (the charge) was ill-timed and that the governance has to change,” McInnis said.

There has been some improvement on the district with a contested seat having been decided by an election earlier this spring and greater interest in discussing issues around the valley, McInnis said.

There have been “more positive conversations” recently with the drainage district, McInnis said.

The chamber is “fully committed to moving forward,” said Diane Schwenke, president and CEO. “We still fully believe it is a tax and not a fee.”

The charge, meanwhile, is “unfair and we firmly believe it definitely hurts the business community,” Schwenke said.

Bottger found that the county and chamber failed to demonstrate a reasonable probability of success with their contention that the charge was a tax. [ed. emphasis mine]

He pointed to two Colorado Supreme Court cases that stood for the proposition that a charge for storm-drainage services “is in the nature of a fee.”

Bottger’s rejection of the preliminary injunction is a setback for the county and chamber, but doesn’t decide the actual case.

That job will fall to another judge after Bottger’s Aug. 11 retirement.

The drainage district is hoping to collect $2.77 million this year for projects within its 90-square-mile area, which includes the most densely populated areas north of the Colorado River.

It has already collected $1.2 million.

The district is charging the $3-a-month stormwater fee to most residences and for each 2,500 square feet of impervious surfaces to businesses and other property owners.

Flood plain meeting draws huge crowd — The Brush News-Tribune

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From The Brush News-Tribune (Katie Collins):

Tuesday night saw the Mark Arndt Events Center in Brush packed full with nearly 400 citizens who gathered to take in information regarding the newly updated floodplain map that recently changed the borders throughout Morgan County.

The Open House format was somewhat of a surprise for the hundreds who floodedinto the Morgan County Fairgrounds for the 4 p.m. start, but there, all were able to visit booths set up by representatives of the National Flood Insurance Program, the Colorado Water Conservation Board and FEMA who converged to host the informational event.

Local entities from the Morgan County Planning and Zoning Commission, City of Brush, Town of Wiggins, the Morgan County Board of Commissioners and even local insurance agents were also present for the packed house, answering questions, fielding comments and concerns and helping property owners plug in addresses for an in-depth look at how the new borders might affect them and their insurance requirements.

More information on specific property placement within the new map, on the City of Brush floodplain ordinance requirements, FEMA’s floodplain resources or on the National Flood Insurance Program, can all be found online at http://www.brushcolo.com by clicking on the orange ‘FLOODPLAIN UPDATES’ box.

The digital map program that provides a more detailed property search can also be found at http://tiny.cc/CSLF_Morgan_County.

Red Rocks Community College offers degree in water quality management

Photo via Red Rocks Community College.
Photo via Red Rocks Community College.

From The Lakewood Sentinel (Clarke Reader):

This fall, Red Rocks Community College makes Colorado history by offering a bachelor of applied science degree in water quality management technology.

Red Rocks is the first community college in the state to offer a BAS degree, the result oftwo years of work by college faculty.

“The accreditation to offer a BAS will expand the learning opportunities for the students,” said Chelsea Campbell, faculty lead of the Water Quality program, in an email interview. “This accreditation gives us the ability to offer more hands-on training for students and help them become better prepared for a career in the water industry.”

The water quality management technology program focuses on applications, regulations and technologies of water, and has been around since the 1970s, Campbell said. The campus’ water quality building contains a hard, wet lab for the two water and wastewater analytical classes, and an outdoor distribution lab. The outdoor distribution lab is a live lab where students are able to experience all of the elements seen within the distribution system. The curriculum is directed in a specific way to increase likelihood of employment in the industry.

“The BAS allows us to be pioneers in creating educational pathways that perhaps have not yet existed in this industry,” said Linda F. Comeaux, vice president of instructional services at the college. “Our students will get, what I believe, is the best learning experience, the elevated/upper division knowledge and hands-on, applicable experience to go right into the workforce and secure in-demand jobs.”

[…]

“I am most looking forward to the growth of opportunities for students, especially since the water industry has very few degrees that are specific to water,” Campbell wrote. “Most degrees are focused around the environment or more generic sciences. This degree provides students courses that match their specific interests. Employers can now hire graduates that match their specific needs and the graduates can get the degree they really want.”

As with most programs at Red Rocks, Water Quality is designed to be affordable and flexible — classes are offered in a variety of modalities including online, traditional classroom and hybrid.

“We already have Ph.D. and qualified faculty on staff that will be able to teach some of these upper division courses,” Comeaux wrote. “I am looking forward to the faculty having the opportunity to utilize additional parts of their spectrum of knowledge and do what they do best — give our students exceptional experiences.”

Brush Town Council reviews new flood plain maps

Brush back in the day. Photo via Vintage Paper Memories.
Brush back in the day. Photo via Vintage Paper Memories.

From the Brush News-Tribune (Katie Collins):

Flood Insurance Rate Map Project (FIRM) Update

One project in particular, the revamped area Floodplain map, topped last Monday night’s session with a presentation from Colorado Water Conservation Board Floodplain Mapping Coordinator Thuy Patton, who gave councilors and visitors an in-depth preview of the new map, its borders and insight into how it could affect insurance rates for many citizens owning property within the city limits.

With the first of such maps being issued as far back as 1977, and the latest revised in 1981, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) made attempts to update those into the digital age and the Colorado Water Conservation Board took over the effort in 2008 to continue to bring those maps into the 21st century and to include the many changes that the Brush area has experienced in the past 35 years.

The new City of Brush Floodplain map will continue to be presented through the City of Brush and the public can feel free to make their voices heard on the redesigned borders during a Tuesday, July 12 public meeting, set to be held in the Morgan County Fairgrounds’ Mark Arndt Events Center, beginning at 4 p.m.

There, officials from the City of Brush, Floodplain Mapping Coordinator Thuy Patton and National Flood Insurance Program Coordinator Stephanie DiBetitto, will be on hand to answer questions, hear concerns and provide an interactive map for folks to plug in their address to see where they land on the new floodplain portions, as well as see how their insurance may be affected. The map, though slated for a 90-day public appeal period following the meeting before possible approval, will not go into effect until June of 2017.

More information on the Floodplain Map changes, as well as an updated map, can be found through the City of Brush online at http://www.brushcolo.com, the Colorado Water Conservation Board website at http://www.cwcb.state.co.us or inside the pages of the Brush News-Tribune and at http://www.brushnewstribune.com.

More coverage from Katie Collins writing for The Brush News Tribune:

Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began a map modernization program in 2001, a lack of funding ended that initiative in 2008, halfway through the completion of Colorado area maps. In an effort to identify current and more accurate flood risks in the area, the Colorado Water Conservation Board signed up as a partner and in 2009 the program transitioned into the Risk Map Program, the agency took the FEMA maps and expanded them to provide in-depth and up-to-date floodplain risk awareness to community officials and citizens and to provide better assistance in flood mitigation.

“When we began the update, it was mainly an effort to convert from paper to digital offerings for all of Morgan County,” said Thuy Patton, E.I., CFM, who works as a Floodplain Mapping Coordinator for the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “However, when we met with many communities, we found that local flood data was incorrect and the topography was bad.

A map revision analysis was done and we incorporated that into the large scale map update, and distributed those preliminary maps to Morgan County Communities on March 16 of this year,” she continued as she spoke before the Brush City Council on Monday night.

Patton noted that two main items had stood out from that study concerning Brush, including a change in flow rates, which found discharge had been reduced by 30 percent since the 1970s Beaver Creek study, going from 55,200 cubic feet per second to 32,400. The second big change found was that the original study hadn’t included all five structures that cross of the Beaver Creek in and around the city of Brush.

With the newly updated maps now complete, officials from the Colorado Conservation Board are seeking public commentary on the new borders that now include 100-year floodplain limits as well as 500-year areas. Among the many changes to the borders are many surrounding Mill Street, with those north of it possibly due to experience an increase in risk, and those south somewhat of a decrease.

More information on the changes, the map history and on insurance rates and policies that could be affected by the map update will be available to all during a public open house, set to be held on Tuesday, July 12 starting at 4 p.m. at the Morgan County Fairgrounds’ Mark Arndt Events Center in Brush.

There, officials from the National Flood Insurance Program, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, FEMA and local officials will be on hand to help citizens understand the changes and how it may affect them. An interactive map that allows community members to plug in their address online to see where their properties lie within the new map borders will be made available there along with stations that will provide one-on-one assistance for anyone interested.

Following the open house, officials will post two publications in the Brush News-Tribune and Fort Morgan Times, and a 90-day appeal period will follow the second publication, in which anyone concerned can submit a technically based appeal. A period of resolving those issues will follow, should any arise. A date will set in which the map will officially go into effect and during the Monday night meeting, Patton proposed that date will likely lie somewhere in June of 2017.

More information on the updated maps, including links to the 1981 and current maps and to a video of the Monday night presentation, are posted on the City of Brush website at http://www.brushcolo.com and can be obtained by visiting City Hall at 600 Edison Street. Information from the Colorado Water Conservation Board can be found online at http://www.cwcb.state.co.us and on the National Flood Insurance Program at http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart. Updates can also be found by following http://www.brushnewstribune.com.