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

coloradospringsstormwaterimplementationplan072016cover

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.

Water Rights in Real Estate Contracts: What You Need to Know — Kara Godbehere

Click here to read Kara Godbehere’s post. Here’s an excerpt:

The standard Colorado Real Estate Commission form “Contract to Buy and Sell Real Estate” covers water rights under Paragraph 2.7 (“Water Rights, Well Rights, Water and Sewer Taps”). It’s important for real estate attorneys and brokers to understand what these provisions mean, and when the advice of a water attorney could be helpful (and maybe even save some time and money).

A water right is a conveyance in real property, generally conveyed in the same manner (see CRS 38-30-102). However, water rights records in my experience are notoriously unreliable. Title insurance companies DO NOT INSURE water rights, so the conveyancing documents are up to the seller or their attorney, and are often not specific. Sometimes they aren’t recorded at all, and often they contain vague language such as “any and all water rights.” It can be difficult to know what you are getting based on the language in a real estate contract or even the seller’s deed.

So what do attorneys and brokers need to be aware of in a typical real estate transaction? Let’s start with Paragraph 2.7.1, “Deeded Water Rights.” I advise broker clients to call me if they see deeded water rights, especially ditch company rights (all of the following information/recommendations regarding Paragraph 2.7.1 are equally applicable to paragraph 2.7.4, “Water Stock Certificates”). For deeded water rights you want to verify title in the seller with the ditch company’s records (or records of the managing entity – irrigation district, water company, etc.) and the county clerk and recorder’s records. Remember, ditch stock conveyances do not have to be recorded, and because they aren’t insured, they will not be included in your title commitment – nor will they be insured by your title policy! I have had remorseful buyers and even agents tell me, “but this water issue didn’t show up in the title commitment! How could we have known!” and the answer is, you should have performed your own due diligence or hired an attorney to do it for you. Always independently verify title to deeded water rights and investigate any decrees associated with the rights. You’ll also want to review the bylaws/rules/regulations of any ditch company or special district that may have administrative authority over the rights, and make sure any requirements of those entities are met during the conveyancing process.

Northern Colorado Water User's Association stock certificates photo via the Colorado Water Institute
Northern Colorado Water User’s Association water stock certificate photo via the Colorado Water Institute

Pueblo County gives federal Bureau of Reclamation land access for Arkansas Valley Conduit field work

Arkansas Valley Conduit Comanche North route via Reclamation
Arkansas Valley Conduit Comanche North route via Reclamation

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Jon Pompia):

In a brief meeting Monday, the Pueblo County commissioners approved a resolution granting permission to the federal Bureau of Reclamation to access county property for field work associated with the proposed Arkansas Valley Conduit.

Reclamation officials will conduct surveys and soil testing related to the conduit alignment, the commissioners learned. The county will be notified by Reclamation before entry onto county property is taken.

In voting to OK the resolution, Commissioner Liane “Buffie” McFadyen noted, “It makes me a bit more optimistic it (the conduit) could happen in my lifetime.”

@USGS: Groundwater Discharge to Upper #ColoradoRiver Basin Varies in Response to #Drought #COriver

Spring sampling location along Little Sandy River in southern Wyoming. Photo credit: Chris Shope, USGSPublic domain
Spring sampling location along Little Sandy River in southern Wyoming. Photo credit: Chris Shope, USGSPublic domain

Here’s the release from the USGS:

USGS scientist collects noble gas sample from spring site near Roaring Judy, Colorado. Photo credit: Bert Stolp, USGS. Public domain
USGS scientist collects noble gas sample from spring site near Roaring Judy, Colorado. Photo credit: Bert Stolp, USGS. Public domain

Assessing age of groundwater to determine resource availability

Groundwater discharge that flows into the Upper Colorado River Basin varies in response to drought, which is likely due to aquifer systems that contain relatively young groundwater, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study published in Hydrogeology Journal.

The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water to more than 40 million people in seven states, irrigate more than 5.5 million acres of land, and support hydropower facilities. More than half of the total streamflow in the UCRB originates from groundwater. Reductions in groundwater recharge associated with climate variability or increased water demand will likely reduce groundwater discharge to streams.

This is the first study that examines the short-term response of groundwater systems to climate stresses at a regional scale by assessing groundwater age. USGS scientists determined the age of groundwater by sampling the water flowing from nineteen springs in the UCRB. Age-tracing techniques can assess how long it takes groundwater to travel from the time it enters the aquifer system as precipitation to when the groundwater exits to springs and streams. Scientists compared eight of the springs with historical discharge and precipitation records with the groundwater age to better understand how aquifers have responded to drought. These findings helped scientists understand the variability and timing of groundwater discharge associated with drought.

“About half of the springs analyzed in the Upper Colorado River Basin contained young groundwater, which was surprising,” said USGS scientist and lead author of the study John Solder. “These findings suggest that shallow aquifers, which are more responsive to drought than deeper systems, may be significant contributors to streamflow in the region.”

Results show that if springs contain mostly older water, groundwater discharge is less variable over time and takes longer to respond to drought conditions. Springs that contain predominately young water, around 80 years old or less, are more likely to vary seasonally and respond rapidly to drought conditions. These results indicate that young groundwater resources are responsive to short-term climate variability.

“Sampling 19 springs in a very large basin is just the start, and further studies are needed to better understand the groundwater resources of this specific region,” said Solder. “Determining groundwater age has promise in predicting how these systems will respond in the future and allows us to assess resource vulnerability where no historical records are available.”

This study was funded by the USGS National Water Census, a research program focusing on national water availability and use at the regional and national scales. Research is designed to build decision support capacity for water management agencies and other natural resource managers.

Water quality and sampling equipment deployed at spring site near Roaring Judy, Colorado. Public domain
Water quality and sampling equipment deployed at spring site near Roaring Judy, Colorado. Public domain

#Colorado awards 1st grants for collaborations with Israeli companies — @9News

Subsurface irrigation via NETAFIM
Subsurface irrigation via NETAFIM

From the Denver Business Journal via 9News.com:

Colorado Economic Development Commission members offered the first three matching grants on Wednesday to companies participating in a new program that helps to fund research-and-development projects if they are working collaboratively with businesses or universities located in Israel.

Announced in April, the program comes from a close relationship that Gov. John Hickenlooper has developed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu through several visits overseas in recent years. It’s meant to foster even deeper work between companies working on advanced-industry projects in areas such as technology and water conservation.

#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.