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Colorado: Water plan briefing in Vail today

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Water, water everywhere – for now. @bberwyn photo.

Colorado business community weighs in on water principles

Staff Report

FRISCO — Vail and Eagle County residents will have a chance to get up to speed on an emerging state water plan today (July 10), with a lunchtime briefing at Donovan Pavilion in Vail, 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered work to begin on the statewide water plan in May 2013; a draft is due to the Governor’s Office no later than Dec. 10, 2014, with the final plan complete by December 2015.

Business leaders have developed statewide business community water policy principles to be part of Colorado’s Water Plan and are seeking regional input to finalize the principles. Working through local business chambers, this statewide initiative seeks local feedback on the principles, which address the business and economic development needs of Colorado.

Speakers include:

  • Tom Binnings of Summit Economics will discuss the economics of water from a statewide perspective.
  • Linn Brooks of Eagle River Water & Sanitation District will share local water operations and policy, and discuss needs in the Eagle and Colorado River basins.
  • James Eklund, executive director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board – the state agency tasked with drafting the Colorado Water Plan.
  • Bryan Blakely of Accelerate Colorado and Mizraim Cordero of the Colorado Competitive Council will discuss the business community water policy principles.
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Colorado: Forest Service comment letter shows breadth and depth of impacts from Denver Water’s diversion plan

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More water from the West Slope? Not the best idea, says the U.S. Forest Service. bberwyn photo.

Current plan underestimates impacts to water and wildlife

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — As currently spelled out, Denver Water’s plan to divert more water from the headwaters of the Colorado River will result in unacceptable impacts to wildlife and other resources on publicly owned national forest lands, the U.S. Forest Service wrote in a June 9 comment letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Forest Service also wrote that the creation of a pool of environmental water in an expanded Gross Reservoir doesn’t compensate for the loss of two acres of wetlands and 1.5 miles of stream habitat that will be lost as a result of the expansion. Continue reading

Op-ed: Ski industry bullies USFS on water rights

Proposed new water rule in the works for western ski areas

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Oh, oh, the water … bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — After being bullied by the ski industry in court and legislative arenas, the U.S. Forest Service has decided to shift its approach to administering valuable water rights associated with ski area operations in western states.

Instead of requiring resorts to transfer water rights, the Forest Service now proposes adding language to ski area permits that would ensure that enough water remains linked to ensure future operations. The water rights could not be sold separately from other resort assets like chairlifts and lodges.

That would address the main concern the Forest Service voiced when it first proposed changes to the administration of water rights a few years ago, but doesn’t address the bigger issue of resorts trying to establish total control over public resources. Continue reading

Colorado: Not much love for proposed new water diversions

EPA raises questions about compliance with Clean Water Act

Denver Water plans to increase transmountain diversions through the Moffat collection system will be up for comment at a pair of upcoming meetings.

Denver Water plans to increase transmountain diversions through the Moffat collection system is not drawing rave reviews, as numerous entities have expressed significant concerns about impacts to water quality. bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — For all the detailed information in the 16,000-page study for Denver Water’s proposed new water diversions from the Western Slope, there are still more questions than answers, according to formal comment letters filed in the past few weeks.

As currently configured, the proposal to shunt more water from Colorado River headwaters streams to the Front Range could worsen water water quality in many streams that are already feeling the pain of low flows, EPA water experts wrote in a June 9 letter. Continue reading

Colorado: More lip service, but no action on water conservation

Snake River melt-off.

Snake River melt-off.

Gov. Hickenlooper vetoes measure that could have benefited all Colorado water users, including the environment

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado’s old-school water buffaloes are more than willing to pay lip service to conservation, but when they actually have a chance to walk the walk … well, it’s business as usual.

Bowing to pressure from agricultural users, Gov. John Hickenlooper this week vetoed a bill that would have encouraged voluntary conservation measures and given incentives for private investment in conservation. Continue reading

Colorado: Wrangling continues over proposed new transmountain diversion, reservoir enlargement

Boulder County gets high-level backup on request for comment period extension on major new transmountain water diversion

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Will the public get more time to review and comment on the final environmental study for the largest proposed water project in years?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Boulder County’s request for more time to comment on the proposed Moffat Tunnel Collection System expansion got some high-level backup this week, as Sen. Michael Bennet formally asked the federal government for an extension.

Denver Water’s proposed new diversions from Colorado River headwaters in Grand County, specifically the Fraser River, are under federal scrutiny as the Corps considers issuing a permit for the enlargement of Gross Reservoir in Boulder County. The federal agency released the final version of a massive environmental study in April, setting a June 9 deadline for comment.

The agency received about 400 requests for an extension, many of them via a form letter. Boulder County also requested an extension, citing the need for more time to read the detailed technical reports and other documents that are part of the study, but regional Corps of Engineer Commander Joel Cross decided not to provide more time. Continue reading

Independent journalism isn’t free — donate now

Support Colorado Environmental Reporting!

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Support independent journalism.

FRISCO — After almost five years and more than 6,500 stories, Summit Voice is still going strong. With your grassroots support, we’re going to renew our dedication to Colorado environmental news.

You won’t find better reporting on forest, water, endangered species and public lands. But independent journalism isn’t free. It involves a sustained commitment of time and energy. Direct funding by readers is the best way to avoid pressure from advertisers and to ensure continued in-depth and unbiased reporting.

Readers often ask how they can support Summit Voice, so we’ve added a PayPal button for donations.

Any amount is welcome. For $50 or more, pick out a set of three note cards from our selection at Fine Art America. Donate $250 or more, and choose a medium-size fine art print. Click here to see our artwork.

You can also donate the old school way by sending a check to Bob Berwyn, P.O. Box 340, Frisco, CO 80443.

Thanks for your continued support and please spread the word!

Environment: Feds won’t extend public comment period on plan to divert more water from Colorado River

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Colorado water wars may heat up as feds refuse to extend comment period Denver Water’s plan to gulp yet more water from the Colorado River. bberwyn photo.

Massive environmental study hard to digest in just 45 days

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — If you were hoping to comment on the entire massive environmental study for Denver Water’s proposal to divert yet more water from the Colorado River to the Front Range, it’s time for some some speed reading.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said last week that there will be no extension of the formal comment period despite a slew of requests for more time. And it’s not just environmental groups that asked for an extension. Boulder County, where there will be major impacts from the expansion of Gross Reservoir, requested more time to comb through thousands of pages of technical reports and data, but to no avail. Continue reading

Fishing: More tiger muskies in Colorado?

State biologists try to balance recreation with restoration of native fish

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More tiger muskies, more native fish? Photo courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife/ Tim Knepp.

Staff Report

FRISCO —Colorado fishery experts say planting more tiger muskie in western Colorado reservoirs could help provide the sport fishing that anglers want, while helping to meet goals of the Colorado River native fish recovery program. Colorado Parks and Wildlife will release more the tiger muskies in Harvey Gap Reservoir this week, adding to the 140 that were stocked last year.

“We are continuing the evaluation phase of this project,” said aquatic biologist Lori Martin. “This introduction of the non-native species last year was well received. There is still potential for tiger muskie to become a viable alternative to northern pike,” Martin said. Continue reading

Environment: Rock snot mystery solved?

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Caption: This is the freshwater algae known as “rock snot” or “didymo.” Credit: Carole-Anne Gillis.

Global warming likely to intensify outbreaks of unwanted algae, but eradication efforts may be futile

Staff Report

FRISCO — The recent proliferation of freshwater rock snot algae is probably related to changing environmental conditions, Dartmouth scientists reported in a new study last week.

The algae have been native to much of the world for thousands of years, but conditions promoting visible growths were absent or rare. It’s not likely the recent emergence of rock snot was caused by accidental introductions by fishermen or the emergence of a new genetic strain.

That means efforts to wipe out the algae with chemicals or fishing restrictions probably won’t work. Instead, resource managers should try to understand and mitigate the environmental factors that trigger the blooms. Continue reading

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