Newsletter Article

Lake Nighthorse Organizations Encounter Numerous Recreation Discussion Delays

Recreation discussions between the: Animas-La Plata Operation, Maintenance, and Replacement (ALPOM&R) Association; U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR); and City of Durango have encountered numerous delays. Lake Nighthorse will not be opened to the public in 2014 and may not be open next year either.

Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District

The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) wanted to once again remind customers that they now offer AquaHawk Alerting. It is a free service that will allow customers to efficiently manage their water use.

Trout Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy

Trout Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy are working to improve fish habitat and riparian health on the upper and lower Dolores River. Matt Clark, director for the Dolores River Chapter of Trout Unlimited, is organizing a project to install a fish passage and improved diversion dam at the Redburn Ranch north of Dolores. Currently, landowners have to build a cobble push-up dam across a wide section of river every year to get enough draw into a nearby diversion that irrigates the pastures. The make-shift dam blocks fish from moving up and down the river and washes out every year at high flows.

‘Big Boys’ Reach Landmark Water Conservation Agreement

In August, the Central Arizona Project, Denver Water, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and Southern Nevada Water Authority all signed on to what is being called a landmark water conservation agreement aimed at demonstrating “the viability of cooperative, voluntary compensated measures,” according to a press release from Denver Water. With Colorado River water supplies dwindling, these organizations--the biggest water users at the table--said they’ll invest $11 million to try and conserve significant amounts of water across all sectors, including agricultural, municipal, and industrial uses.

Lawn Bill Designed to Conserve Water

Senate Bill 17 proposed to limit the size of new lawns for entities using water from permanent agricultural dry-up. Ag dry-up occurs when someone purchases land and moves the water into the municipal system. The concept was developed by Steve Harris of Harris Water Engineering in Durango and sponsored by Senator Ellen Roberts (R-Durango). In early August water resource leaders from Durango and Southwest Colorado briefed lawmakers in Denver on the legislation.

Water Quality Impacts on Human Health

A new analysis of 56 studies shows that increasingly, global temperatures and severe weather events will continue to have a major impact on global health.

Water Quality to Improve on the Animas River

According to a Durango Herald article, in 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to plug the abandoned Red Bonita mine near Silverton in an effort to help reduce the flow of heavy metals draining into Cement Creek, which ultimately flows into the Animas River.

Federal Law: Water Resources Reform and Development Act

President Obama signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) into federal law on June 10th. The WRRDA aims to alleviate investment gridlock, which has plagued national water infrastructure over the past 25 years.

Federal Law: Public Comment Period Open Until October 20th for Navigable Waters Rule

As part of the Clean Water Act definition of “Waters of the U.S” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have created a proposal that could change the definition of navigable waters. In the current language, navigable waters (e.g., rivers, territorial seas, interstate waters, reservoirs, interstate waters that affect commerce, tributaries, wetlands adjacent to waters, etc.) of the U.S. are protected under the Clean Water Act. More than 100 organizations and the Supreme Court have asked the EPA and Army Corp to revise the definition because it is confusing.

Federal, State, and Local Legal Issues: Joint Land Management Plan

In response to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (USBLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Joint Land Management Plan, the Southwestern Water Conservation District has filed a protest to the USBLMportion of the joint plan and an appeal to the USFSportion of the plan which has already gone to a Record of Decision. The primary concerns are the by-pass standards or guidelines and the addition of two new fish species as outstanding remarkable values on the Dolores River. At issue are the flow criteria to be used in the evaluation of special use permits, which are the most restrictive in Colorado and possibly in the nation. These standards or guidelines would be very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve below reservoirs since most of the natural hydrograph is stored under the water rights.

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