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Coyote Gulch

Last Build Date: Tue, 01 Dec 2009 03:59:01 GMT

Copyright: Copyright 2009 John Orr

Coyote Gulch move

Sun, 15 Mar 2009 00:36:19 GMT


We've moved Coyote Gulch to The URL works also. We intend to keep the old weblog and categories up as long as our hosting service is in business.

We apologize for taking so long to get this post up notifying you readers of the change. We couldn't get a post up because we were trying to repair our old blogging software. We were finally successful doing a reinstallation this weekend.

Thanks to the gang at Userland software for getting my Radio installation running again.

Breckenridge: Water workshop February 12th

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 13:38:52 GMT


From the Summit Daily News: "The Colorado River District and the Blue River Watershed Group are holding an informal water workshop from 6:30-830 p.m. Feb.12 at the Breckenridge Campus of Colorado Mountain College. This workshop is intended for people who want to learn more about western water issues in a nonintimidating workshop setting where no question is too elementary to ask. For more information, contact Pokrandt at or at (970) 945-8522 x 236; or Cora McCold at (970) 485-5581 or"

Category: Colorado Water

Southern Delivery System: Fremont County Commissioners public meeting recap

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 13:22:20 GMT

Here's a recap of yesterday's Fremont County Commissioner's meeting, from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article: "I lean toward favoring the application, but without identifying the conditions, it's difficult," said Commission Chairman Mike Stiehl following a four-hour public hearing Tuesday. Stiehl said the conditions have to be realistic, fair and enforceable. Stiehl's colleagues, Ed Norden and Larry Lasha, also said they are leaning toward approval, but want more assurances in areas that not only would protect the county, but benefit it. They are looking for possible cooperative efforts with the Beaver Park Water District, Penrose, Florence and the Natural Resources Conservation Service if SDS comes through Fremont County. More than 125 people attended Tuesday's meeting, which spilled out of the commissioners meeting room into the basement lobby of the Fremont County Courthouse. Commissioners hosted the public hearing on the $1.1 billion pipeline proposal after the Fremont County Planning Commission voted 5-2 to recommend denial last month. Several people, including two former county commissioners, spoke against approving the application, saying Fremont County is only a second choice and that it would be better to know whether Colorado Springs actually intends to build the pipeline there or in the preferred location from Pueblo Dam... [Dennis Jones, a former commissioner] said Colorado Springs "shouldn't have it both ways" and said at the very least, Fremont County should require the city to resubmit its application only if Pueblo County denies its application. Jones also listed Fremont County regulations that would allow commissioners to deny approval outright, saying Colorado Springs had not proved its project is compatible and harmonious, would not have a detrimental effect on property value, would not impair public welfare and would not adversely affect other property... The pawn in a chess game theme was picked up by Rick Allen of the Rocky Mountain Environmental Labor Coalition, which chastised Fremont County for considering an alternative rated second-best by the sponsors and in the Bureau of Reclamation's environmental impact statement. "The SDS application before Fremont County appears to be nothing more than a hedge by the project proponents to leverage Pueblo County," Allen said... Colorado Springs says it needs easements on about 50 properties along a 17-mile route through Fremont County. It also would need to acquire three sites for pump stations: One on federal, one on state and one on private land, said John Fredell, SDS project director... Jason Morin, plant manager at Holcim Cement at Portland, east of Florence, said he is convinced Colorado Springs' junior water right won't interfere with the company's existing river intake, based on one of the oldest rights on the river dating to 1861... Florence would gain improvements to its river park from the project, said Kevin Shanks of THK Associates, which has been contracted by Colorado Springs to assist in planning for the park. Colorado Springs would commit to putting hydrants along the route of the pipeline to assist Penrose volunteer firefighters, said Dan Higgins, SDS construction and delivery manager. The Arkansas River Outfitters Association supports SDS as long as it leaves water in the river, as provided for in all versions of the project, said Tony Keenan, speaking for the outfitters... Penrose Water has a more problematic situation, said Lissa Pinello, president. The district is working on its own $9.7 million project to deliver water purchased in 2006 from Fremont County Rancher Denzel Goodwin. The plan is to build a well field and enlarge Brush Hollow Reservoir. SDS could provide a simpler way to deliver the water, but that could put an $8.9 million Colorado Water Conservation Board loan at risk and would require an environmental impact statement Penrose can't afford. There are also concerns that the two projects would be using some of the same rights of [...]

Tri-State and Environment Colorado reach agreement

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 13:10:09 GMT


Here's a look at Tri-State's settlement with Environment Colorado over the change of use for shares of the Amity Canal, from Katharhynn Heidelberg writing for the Montrose Daily Press. From the article:

One more legal challenge to power supplier Tri-State's attempt to change water right usage near Lamar was ended by a settlement last week. The result is a study of Tri-State's energy efficiency -- one an environmental group hopes will show Tri-State can meet customer needs without a change in use of 20,000 acre-feet of John Martin Reservoir water.

Environment Colorado sued Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association 18 months ago, after the company, which supplies wholesale power to Delta-Montrose Electrical Association and other cooperatives, filed for a change of water use, from agricultural to industrial, on the reservoir.

Tri-State still hopes to acquire the use-change right, which it says is needed for a proposed new power plant to offset the growth the generation company is seeing among member usage. It has settled with a total of 19 plaintiffs, most recently EC. One challenger remains.

Environment Colorado spokesman Keith Hay said EC wanted to Tri-State to look at the least costly alternative for their power customers first and, "that will always be energy efficiency."[...]

Hay said both parties realized there was no basis to establish where Tri-State was in terms of energy efficiency, so the first logical step was a study. Tri-State and EC signed a settlement Feb. 4 that requires Tri-State to hire a third-party contractor to conduct a demand side management-energy efficiency study and to prepare annual reports on those activities. In return, EC withdrew its statement of opposition and agreed "not to raise water injury issues or the issues raised in EC's motion for summary judgment specific to the Colorado Power Project...We feel this study will show Tri-State doesn't need the plant they have currently proposed," Hay said. "This meets our goal of protecting the water right, or at a minimum, doing it carefully and responsibly if we're going to make that change."[...]

Under the agreement, Tri-State will spend between $500,000 and $1 million on the study, to be completed by 2010. The study is to assess technical, economic and practical potential for efficient energy use and peak load reduction in its service areas through 2020. Environment Colorado has the right to review and comment on the methodology as well as to provide input. The first draft of three reports on testing activities is to be completed in the first quarter of 2010.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News

Conejos Water Conservancy District: President Michael Willett named to well water rules committee

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 02:10:04 GMT


From the Conejos County Citizen: "The Conejos Water Conservancy District is the latest County organization to name a representative to become a part of State Water Engineer Dick Wolfe's proposed well water rules committee. Michael Willett, president of the CWCD has been nominated to the position, but the State has not announced a final list of members of the water advisory committee."


The Conejos Water Conservancy District, with offices at the corner of Fourth and Main, in Manassa, includes more than 100 large volume irrigation wells, dozens of irrigation ditch companies, and more than 100,000 acres of farm land using wells and/or surface water rights for irrigation. The District contains the Conejos and San Antonio Rivers.

District Manager Bob Robins said a major reason the district wants to participate is to control the cost of litigation. Robins echoed the comments of John Shawcroft, an official with the Alamosa and La Jara Creek Water Conservancy District who stated recently that Valley water users spend large amounts of money every year on court battles over water use.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

Conservation easement in the works along the Silver Thread

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 02:03:42 GMT


From the Mineral County Miner (Mary Johnson): "Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) Executive Director Nancy Butler spoke and gave an update on the Rio Grande Initiative. Conservation efforts in Mineral County began in 2003 when Dorothy Steele granted an easement to protect Wright's Ranch. In 2008, Butler said, the initiative and its partners helped conserve Rio Oxbow Ranch, phase 1. According to Butler, an easement does not ensure public access.

"A grant application for a conservation easement along the Silver Thread is currently in process, Butler explained. There are different easement programs and she handed out a page to everyone describing the Rio Grande Initiative and the many issues involved. After consideration, the commissioners voted to donate $300 toward this project."

Category: Colorado Water

Gary Hausler: The Mississippi provides a huge source of unused water

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 01:31:22 GMT

A while back Pat Mulroy the General Manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority was out in Washington D.C. pitching the use of Mississippi River high flows to recharge the Ogallala aquifer. The idea seems to be catching on. Here's a report about a recent meeting of the Rio Grande Basin Roudtable where hay farmer Gary Hausler was talking about moving water from the Mississippi to the Front Range, from Ruth Heide writing for the Valley Courier. From the article: Hausler proposed that Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska form a new interstate compact, the Central Plains Compact, that would run 1,200 miles of 22-inch diameter pipe from the Mississippi River at a point near Hickman, Kentucky, to Colorado at a point between Denver and Colorado Springs on Monument Hill. The pipeline would include laterals along the way to provide water to all of the states between the river and the Rockies. Hausler estimated the cost of the project at $22.5 billion including permits, rights of way (possibly through eminent domain), engineering and construction. He also estimated the project would span 30 years from idea to construction with about 10 years spent on forming the compact, another 10 years on permits and 10 years on the construction itself. Hausler has a mining and heavy construction background in addition to a stint in corporate finance before becoming a hay farmer and rancher near Gunnison. He said his idea for a water pipeline was sparked by an Exxon presentation years ago, and he has been working on the idea in earnest for the last several years. More coverage from the Gunnison Times (Michelle Burkhart): While [Gary Hausler's] idea didn't originally pass many straight face tests, that has begun to change. Gunnison water expert John McClow, longtime attorney for the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District (UGRWCD), believes the idea has merit. "It's a long range plan that has a lot of moving parts and many obstacles to overcome, but Colorado needs to find some long-range solutions to our water supply," he said. "The state demographer is predicting a large increase in population and our water resources are finite."[...] Around 70 percent of the state's farms and ranches would need to be dried up to meet population demands by 2050 -- according to a Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) staff analysis -- unless new water is introduced to the state, McClow said. Rep. Kathleen Curry, from Gunnison, agrees the idea is legitimate. "I think it's gaining ground," she said. "I'm willing to look at it as a long-term solution, because I really think it would relieve pressure on our side of the divide." She said that people are realizing the water issues on Colorado's eastern slope are not solvable unless new water is introduced. Hausler conceived the Mississippi diversion idea about eight years ago while at Union Park, northeast of Almont, he said. He was pondering a trans-mountain diversion that was proposed to take water from that area to the Front Range... The state's projected gap between water supply and demand by 2050 has widened to approximately 700,000 acre-feet (af) per year, Hausler said, referencing a CWCB study. To fulfill this gap, the CWCB has looked at conservation, trans-mountain diversions and drying up a large portion of agriculture in the state. "But they have not looked outside the state," Hausler said. The Mississippi River, in the area of Hickman, Ky., has average annual flows that exceed 240 million af, he said. Colorado River's annual flow, in comparison, is approximately 15 million af. Hausler wants to divert 1 million af per year, which equates to less than .5 percent of the average flow in the Mississippi, he said... Hausler's proposed route for the pipeline is 1,200 miles long with 7,000 feet of "total lift." Pumping the water would require an additional 1,600 megawatts of power, which is essentially the equivalent to the [...]

RIP John Fetcher

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 01:14:56 GMT


From the Steamboat Pilot & Today (Tom Ross): "'Colorado lost a legend on Friday -- a lover of life, a caretaker of our precious land and water, a tireless worker, a pioneer in the ski industry, a rancher, a devoted public servant, a loving father and grandfather, and one of the finest men I have ever met," Salazar said.

"Salazar, a San Luis Valley Democrat who represents Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, described Fetcher as a personal mentor who epitomized the phrase "the stuff that legends are made of.'"

More Coyote Gulch coverage here. Category: Colorado Water

2009 Lower South Platte Water Symposium

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 01:02:52 GMT


From the Greeley Tribune: "The 2009 Lower South Platte Water Symposium will cover topics related to 'Today's Issues Impacting Tomorrow's Livelihood', and is scheduled March 11 in Sterling...

"Jim Hall with the Colorado Division of Water Resources in Greeley will discuss administration of the South Platte in 2007 and 2008. He also will discuss the water supply from those years and current water supplies in the basin. Hall also will discuss future issues within the basin that may impact water. Several other speakers and topics will be covered throughout the day.

"The symposium will begin at 8 a.m. at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling. Cost is $20 prior to Feb. 27 and $40 after that date. Lunch is included."

Category: Colorado Water

U.S. Sentate stimulus bill includes $67 million for water projects in Colorado

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 00:55:07 GMT


Here's a look at the current stimulus package the the money picture for Colorado, from Peter Roper writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Udall and Bennet itemized the federal program money intended for Colorado in the Senate bill, which includes: $775 million to help with increasing Medicaid health insurance coverage; $426 million for highway construction; $487 million in state government "stabilization" aid; $126 million for public transportation; $66 million for water projects; $120 million for Title 1 low-income program funds for public schools; $48 million for weatherizing homes and businesses; and $24 million in Child Care and Development grants.

More coverage from the Rocky Mountain News (Jerd Smith):

At least six major water utilities, including Denver, Aurora and Colorado Springs, have lined up to claim a share of the giant spending package working its way through Congress. The water utilities hope to use the money to help construct new water delivery systems, repair aging pipelines and clear trees in fire-prone watersheds. Also in line are dozens of small communities that can't afford to fix aging waterworks. "Everything helps," said Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress, a nonpartisan group that represents water interests across the state...

Denver Water, Colorado's largest water utility, is seeking $32.2 million for 12 projects that could generate 825 jobs this year. "In some ways it looks like the world's biggest earmark party," Denver Water Manager Chips Barry said, referring to the practice of Congress doling out money with strings attached. "We're not counting on the availability of that money, but we think these are good stimulus projects." Denver hopes to win grants to help protect forested water sheds on the Upper South Platte River and on the West Slope that are threatened by pine beetles. Denver also has several aging pipelines it hopes to repair.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

Energy policy -- Oil shale: Yampa River, Shell and water for oil shale development

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 00:46:36 GMT


The Colorado Independent (David O. Williams) is reporting that water rights are suddenly all the talk along the Yampa River. From the article:

According to the Steamboat Pilot and Today newspaper, the town of Yampa's board of trustees last week voted unanimously to join any organized legal efforts to block the water grab by Shell.

More from the Steamboat Pilot & Today (Melinda Dudley):

Although Yampa does not have the financial resources to mount its own legal battle against Shell Frontier Oil and Gas, the town could become a party to any opposition filed without incurring potentially huge legal costs. In the past, Yampa has piggybacked onto other water rights oppositions with the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, Town Clerk Janet Ray said.

"A future demand on this over-adjudicated river will just make things tougher," Trustee Tom Yackey said. "Any new rights that are filed on it stand to make us vulnerable."[...]

Shell Oil's filing for 375 cubic feet per second was made Dec. 30 in the District 6 Water Division office in Steamboat Springs. The water, which would be drawn from the Yampa during high flows fed by snowmelt in the spring and early summer, would fill a proposed 45,000 acre-foot reservoir for use in oil shale development. That amount represents a minority of the Yampa's peak spring flows, which commonly exceed 11,000 cfs west of Maybell, where the river is about to meet its confluence with the Green River. The 375 cfs being sought by Shell is comparable to the typical mid-July flow of the Yampa River at the Fifth Street Bridge in Steamboat Springs. The reservoir would be built off the main stem of the Yampa in the Cedar Springs Draw in Moffat County. The proposed reservoir's potential 45,000 acre-foot size compares to the 33,275 acre-feet in Stagecoach Reservoir and 25,450 acre-feet in the newly expanded Elkhead Reservoir between Hayden and Craig.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Climate Change News

SB09-080, Precipitation Collect Limited Exemptions

Thu, 12 Feb 2009 00:26:05 GMT


Senator Isgar thinks his bill (pdf) would make common practice legal, that is, allow small scale rainwater catchment installations for properties that have an "exempt well."

Here's a report about SB09-080 from K.C. Mason writing for the Telluride Watch. From the article:

Senate Bill 80, which unanimously passed the Senate this week, could legalize a common practice in arid Colorado. "We don't see a lot of people rushing forward to say I'm breaking the law," Isgar said. "But it's possible people have been using runoff in a questionable way that this would make legal."[...]

Isgar's bill would apply only to owners of exempt wells, which are not administered under the priority system. Exempt well permits are issued only to those who can not get water from a municipality or water district but its uses are restricted. "There hasn't been a lot of opposition because it's tied so closely to the well permit," Isgar said. "You cannot expand usage beyond what the well permit allows." Isgar said allowing rainwater catchment actually could reduce injury to downstream users because it would reduce well pumping that draws down the aquifer. SB 80 now goes to the House, where it will be sponsored by Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan.

The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled later this week to take its first look at the annual "projects bill," which outlines next year's spending on water projects approved by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Most of the appropriations are to continue projects that previously have been authorized, such as a $1 million appropriation for the Colorado River water availability study or $1.5 million to develop a statewide grant program for water projects that prevent the permanent dry-up of agricultural land. "There's really nothing controversial in it and the money's there because we get 10 percent of the FML (federal mineral lease) dollars," said Isgar, who is sponsoring the bill.

Isgar also said Western Slope concerns about a "water grab" are being addressed in a pair of bills aimed at helping South Platte River irrigators whose wells have been shut off or sharply curtailed because they don't have augmentation plans in place.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

Greeley History Museum Earth Reveries series program to focus on Greeley's water history

Wed, 11 Feb 2009 13:38:14 GMT


From the Greeley Tribune: "The second program of the Greeley History Museum Earth Reveries series, which will focus on Greeley's water history, will be 7 p.m., Feb. 18, at the at the downtown museum, 714 8th St. Jon Monson, director of Greeley's water and sewer department, will host the event. The program is free and open to the public. The Earth Reveries project is a campus and community-wide collaboration exploring environmental matters from a wide range of viewpoints. Monson will introduce the Written in Water DVD and describe the efforts of Greeley residents over the decades to secure long-term water rights in an area that was known as the Great American Desert. When settlers first came to the area they needed to secure long-term supplies."

Category: Colorado Water

Corps of Engineers pushing for Alamosa to rebuild Alamosa River levee

Wed, 11 Feb 2009 13:32:54 GMT

Alamosa received some bad news recently as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told the city that they may have to pay for reconstruction of the levee along the Alamosa River. Here's a report from Ruth Heide writing for the Valley Courier. From the article: Alamosa City Manager Nathan Cherpeski brought the situation to the city council's attention during his weekly Friday update and commented further about it on Monday. He said although the Corps designed the current levee, and it was built according to the Corps' design, the Corps is now telling the city the levee was constructed incorrectly. The big problem with the levee is the tree growth on the land side of the levee, Cherpeski said. He pointed out that the Corps left many large trees in place when it constructed the new levee in 1997 but is now apparently blaming the city for the potential structural problems the trees could cause to the levee. "These are big, big trees and they are saying they shouldn't have been allowed to grow on the levee," he said. He said the trees that the Corps sees as a potential problem did not grow up in the last 12 years. Some are 100 years old or so, he estimated. "They are accusing us like we let them grow there," he said... Cherpeski said the Corps sent the city a new vegetation management standard adopted in 2008, and the city's levee does not meet that standard. A Corps inspector raised the concerns with the city, Cherpeski said, and suggested the city should remove the offending trees. The Corps' old maintenance rules comprised 5 pages but the new rules are 70 pages long, he added. "With these new rules our levee built in 1997 appears to not meet standard." Cherpeski said removal of the trees would not only be costly - perhaps requiring reconstruction of the levee in places - but would be aesthetically and emotionally painful for those landowners on whose properties the trees reside. "Nobody likes to cut down significant trees and some of the trees they sent us pictures of are three feet or more in diameter," he said. "Some of these trees if we take them out we have to rebuild the levee."[...] Alamosa falls under the jurisdiction of the Albuquerque Corps of Engineers office, Cherpeski explained. He said he is hoping for a meeting soon and a resolution fairly quickly, within the next couple of weeks if possible. He said the Corps invited the city officials to a meeting in Washington state, but Alamosa officials are hoping to set up a meeting closer to home. Cherpeski said he would like for the Corps staff members to come to Alamosa and actually walk the levee with the city staff and council to show where the problems are. Cherpeski said the City of Alamosa is responsible for maintaining the levee and city crews routinely fix problem areas such as locations where people driving all-terrain vehicles have caused damage to the levee. "Those come up every year. We fix that stuff. The big issue is the trees." Another situation creating concern with the Corps is access. Cherpeski said people living along the levee put up fences, something they are allowed to do. However, landowners' easements require them to allow the city and Corps access to the levee, so residents will have to install gates. Category: Colorado Water[...]

Parker details water plans

Wed, 11 Feb 2009 02:31:22 GMT


Parker Water and Sanitation has written a long column for YourHub. Click through and read the whole thing. Here are some excerpts:

Here is the reality: our current water use is reducing our groundwater aquifers by as much as 30 feet per year. Every well in the district records this reduced production. We are essentially mining a non-renewable resource. Once we have pumped the water to the surface, it will not be recaptured and returned to the aquifer. The Rueter-Hess Reservoir is part of the solution to this problem. But with groundwater depletion, PWSD management is working hard to find new sources to meet ongoing demand.

The amount of renewable water supply from Cherry Creek is limited to about 5,000 acre feet annually (an acre foot supplies two average sized families for a year). Currently, our residents and businesses use 8,000 acre feet every year! The District will capture as much surface water as possible in the Rueter-Hess Reservoir, which represents a major component of our future water security.

What is the answer to this mounting challenge? There are several opportunities related to purchasing renewable resources on the South Platte, Arkansas or Colorado rivers. Such buys are feasible but the cost is high because in addition to purchasing the water rights the District must launch major capital projects to construct pipelines and pump stations to transport the water to Parker. These kinds of capital costs are already being incurred by neighboring water districts, including several pipelines of 30 miles or more that will consume literally billions of dollars.

PWSD has also purchased consumptive water rights by buying 12 farms outside the District in Logan County that could supply as many as 9,000 acre feet of water. The good news is that these are performing assets, generating District revenues until the water might be needed. PWSD's foresight in obtaining "senior" water rights here will give Parker residents priority over other uses when the time comes. The District views this option as a last resort insurance policy.

Delivery from the Colorado River would bear the same infrastructure cost but would be less expensive to treat. The District is also looking at water from Flaming Gorge on the Green River, the largest provider of water to the Colorado River. We have also obtained permission to study this option from the Colorado Division of Natural Resources and the Wyoming Water Commission and the Bureau of Reclamation. With this option, 400 miles of pipeline would create significant capital costs and would require partnerships with other agencies.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

Palisade looking at new Clifton Sanitation plant for treatment

Wed, 11 Feb 2009 02:19:10 GMT


Palisade is looking at the option of foregoing a new treatment plant in favor of hooking in to Clifton's new plant, according to a report from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Le Roy Standish). From the article:

Because of stricter federal water regulations, Palisade's lagoon, wastewater-treatment plant at the west end of Riverbend Park, 451 Pendleton St., needs to be replaced within the next few years. A new plant would cost the town an estimated $7 million, plus all the ensuing maintenance costs.

A lifting station and a pipeline to Clifton Sanitation's new plant, on the southwest corner of D and 32 roads, would cost just about as much to build, but would be cheaper to maintain. Sewer rates for customers also could decrease if the town opts to connect to Clifton.

"We are in the $7 million range for either of these options," Palisade Trustee Jim Bennet said.

Category: Colorado Water

HB09-1174, SB09-147, Augmentation relief for South Platte Basin irrigators

Wed, 11 Feb 2009 02:09:59 GMT


Here's a look at HB09-1174 (pdf), Exempt Pre-1974 Well Depletions and SB09-147 (pdf), Water Supply Plans Pre-2003 Depletions, from K.C. Mason writing for the Sterling Journal Advocate. From the article:

House Bill 1174 affects about 400 wells users that the Central Water Conservancy District accepted into its plan after the demise of the Ground Water Appropriators of the South Platte (GASP). While the bill garnered no debate on the House floor, it generated a claim during a committee hearing last week that well irrigators are "stealing water from people on the lower South Platte."


Senate Bill 147 would allow the State Engineer to approve substitute water supply plans in permanent augmentation plans for the repayment of out-of-priority depletions from the stream prior to 2003. The bill would apply only to wells in Division I and would expire in 10 years.

"Right now you can't use substitute supply plans for augmentation," said Hodge, who is preparing for a hearing on her bill Thursday before the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. "This would just give them a quicker way to get water when it's available."

A similar bill was introduced last spring when water providers said they had some surplus water to sell because of the heavy snowpack. It was immediately opposed by surface water users and Western Slope interests.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

Snowpack news

Wed, 11 Feb 2009 01:51:40 GMT

From the Sky-Hi Daily News: "Snowpack in the mountains around Middle Park ranges from 81 percent to 157 percent of the 30-year average. Last year at this time it was 92 percent to 133 percent of average. The southern drainages have the most moisture content: Fraser River, 133 percent; Williams Fork, 126 percent; and Blue River, 125 percent. The northern drainages have the least: Corral Creek, 92 percent; Muddy Creek, 112 percent; and Willow Creek, 116 percent. Overall, this is quite similar to Feb. 1, 2006. Snow density is averaging 24 percent, which means that each foot of snow contains about 2.9 inches of water."

Category: Colorado Water

George Hugins named Penrose Citizen of the Year

Wed, 11 Feb 2009 01:47:55 GMT


Congratulations are in order for George Hugins, according to a report from the Cañon City Daily Record. From the article:

At 88 years old, he has been involved in the community since moving here nearly 20 years ago. For his efforts, George Hugins was named the 2008 Penrose Citizen of the Year during the Penrose Chamber of Commerce annual banquet Monday at Goose Berry Patch.

"He was heavily involved in the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy petition drive," said Chamber board president Pete Mugasis. "He was involved in arranging the original meeting and followed the petition processes and court appearances."

Category: Colorado Water

Southern Delivery System: Fremont County Commissioners back SDS backup plan

Wed, 11 Feb 2009 01:36:00 GMT


Colorado Springs' proposed Southern Delivery System is popular with the Fremont County Commissioners. They voiced support for the alternative route from the Arkansas River near Penrose along Colorado 115 and on up to the Springs. Here's a report from R. Scott Rappold writing for the Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

The board, however, did not vote on Colorado Springs Utilities' permit application. Commissioners decided to wait two weeks to hammer out conditions under which they could approve the plan.

Their concerns include lessening construction impacts, giving Utilities time to reach water-sharing deals with Beaver Park and Penrose water districts and to agree to participate in flood-control work near Penrose, and ensuring Utilities uses eminent domain with private property owners only as a last resort.

"We've got some details we've got to work out and we're going to work on it," said Utilities project manager John Fredell, after the hearing. "I think this is a great outcome."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

Fremont County District Judge David Thorson's decision on Eastern Fremont County joining the Upper Ark upheld

Tue, 10 Feb 2009 13:30:25 GMT


The election that saw Eastern Fremont County join the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District has been upheld in court, according to a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Colorado Supreme Court rejected an appeal by opponents to the inclusion, who contested Fremont County District Judge David Thorson's order last year affirming the legality of a November 2007 election in which voters approved inclusion. Voters in the Canon City, Florence and Penrose areas approved inclusion by a vote of 4,680-4,274. "I think the board is really happy with the decision. It's been a long time coming," said Terry Scanga, general manager of the Upper Ark District. "Really, this is putting together the Upper Arkansas River basin. With the commonality of the area, it makes sense to have it all together."

The vote was challenged by Ivan Widom of Canon City and Mark Emmer of Salida, who argued that voters were misled by pre-election materials. Thorson rejected the challenge, saying the election itself did not violate state statutes or the constitution. Thorson said the ballot correctly identified the 0.478 mill tax levy that was voted on in 2007. An appeals court referred the challenge to the state Supreme Court on Dec. 23. The high court declined to hear the case on Jan. 15. Thorson issued an order of dismissal, based on the Supreme Court decision, on Jan. 30.

Following the election, four board members from eastern Fremont County were seated, according to membership guidelines, which give two seats to each school district within the boundaries. Former Canon City Mayor Bill Jackson and orchard owner Mannie Colon were appointed by judges to represent the Canon City area; Penrose farmer John Sandefur and William McGuire of the Penrose Chamber of Commerce were selected to represent the Florence-Penrose area.

Other directors are Bob Senderhauf and Bill Donley of Custer County; Tom French and Tim Canterbury of western Fremont County; and Glenn Everett, Greg Felt, Frank McMurry, Jeff Ollinger and Pat Alderton of Chaffee County. Alderton is a director at large, while the others represent their respective school districts.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

Southern Delivery System: Pueblo county commissioners postpone meeting

Tue, 10 Feb 2009 13:22:11 GMT


From the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka): "A hearing on the $1.1 billion Southern Delivery System scheduled for Wednesday will be continued until 6 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, the county announce Monday."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

La Nina settling in

Tue, 10 Feb 2009 02:15:27 GMT


We guess its official, La Niña is settling in, according to a report from NOAA. They say, "La Niña is expected to continue into Northern Hemisphere Spring 2009." Category: Colorado Water

Ouray city council approves Black Canyon minimum flows agreement

Tue, 10 Feb 2009 01:50:08 GMT


From the The Watch (Beverly Corbell): "A decades old water fight with the federal government came to an end for the Ouray City Council Monday when it voted to remove objections to a settlement for reserved water rights at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

"The fight to protect those rights has been going on 'for years and years,' City Manager Patrick Rondinelli said.

"'The federal government tried to wipe out all water rights.'"

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

Lake Mead: Quaggas colonize test pipe in two months

Tue, 10 Feb 2009 01:09:57 GMT


From the Las Vegas Journal: (Henry Brean): "It took just two months for quagga mussels to find and colonize a piece of pipe that was submerged in Lake Mead as part of a test by the regional Clean Water Coalition. The 15-foot-long pipe was pristine when it was sunk in about 110 feet of water in November. When it was pulled from Boulder Basin late last month, it already was speckled inside and out with juvenile quaggas no bigger than a grain of sand."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water