Newsletter Article

Salazar Retiring

Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar is retiring at the end of the year. The San Luis Valley resident and sixth-generation farmer and rancher pointed to several achievements while serving as the state’s chief of agriculture since 2011, including consolidating the department’s divisions. He also highlighted double-agriculture exports from Colorado producers over 2009 levels.

Harris Steps Down, Wolff Appointed as Next SW Colorado CWRPDA Representative

After 16 years being the appointee from southwest Colorado on the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority Board of Directors (CWRPDA), Steve Harris, with Harris Water Engineering in Durango, is stepping down from this position—his term expired in October. Robert (Bob) Wolff was appointed by the Governor in November to be the next representative from southwest Colorado to serve a 4 year term beginning at the January Board meeting after confirmation by the Senate Ag Committee.

First Kokanee Spawning at Lake Nighthorse

In late October members of a Colorado Parks and Wildlife team spawned kokanee salmon in Lake Nighthorse for the first time. Members of this first graduating class of kokanee were stocked as fingerlings in 2010. Stocking 75,000 kokanee each year since means spawning will occur annually. They are the only fish being taken from the lake, which is off limits to the public until a recreation plan is in place. The lake also has stocked rainbow trout and suckers.

Cortez: McPhee Reservoir

Montezuma County is interested in taking over recreation management of McPhee Reservoir. Frustrated by the lack of services, County Commissioners urged San Juan National Forest supervisor Kara Chadwick to convey land and management of three key facilities (McPhee boat ramp, House Creek, and Sage Hen areas) of the reservoir. “In the last 15 years, services have digressed at the lake to near nothing, so it behooves us to look at taking over management,” said Commissioner Keenan Ertel.

Durango: Wastewater-Plant Upgrade Deadline Extended

The city’s wastewater-treatment plant will not have to make millions of dollars worth of improvements by 2017 to meet new clean water guidelines. This came after negotiations with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. While all the estimated $55 million upgrades will have to be made, the state health department agreed to extend the city’s deadline until 2023.

Pagosa Springs: Drilling and Grant Approved for Geothermal Project

At their December meeting the Pagosa Area Geothermal Water and Power Authority (PAGWPA) formally accepted a grant for nearly $2 million from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). According to the grant agreement, DOLA will give PAGWPA $1,986,000 from the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Fund “to confirm the presence of geothermal resources whereby such geothermal resources can be developed as a possible power source for the area.” The purpose of the Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program is to help political subdivisions that are socially or economically affected by the oil and gas industry.

Telluride: Pandora Water Treatment Plant Up and Running

Twenty years after the Pandora Water Treatment Plant was proposed by local officials concerned about long-term municipal water supply, the facility is up and running, generating clean water. The Pandora Water Treatment Plant valves were opened on October 24th and everything worked, Telluride Public Works Director Paul Ruud said.

West Slope Roundtables Meeting

A West Slope roundtable meeting was conducted in mid-December in Grand Junction. There were about 75 members of the four roundtables, plus another 75 or so members of the public and Colorado’s professional water community, that discussed and heard a number of topics related to the Colorado Water Plan. One of the items on the agenda was the draft seven-point framework developed by the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC) that lays out conditions for future discussions on the potential new trans-mountain diversion (TMD) in Colorado. Those seven points include:

Southwest Basin Roundtable Meeting

At their November 12th Southwest Basin Roundtable (SBR) meeting, chair Mike Preston reported the fund balance is $655,916. There was then extensive discussion of the Colorado Water Plan and participants were directed to the draft plan that is now available online on the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) website ( In addition, CWCB staff, Craig Godbout directed members to a document entitled Colorado’s Water Plan: Western Slope Implementation and Themes drafted by James Eklund, CWCB director, and Brent Newman. The document outlines 10 areas of concerns expressed by the Western Slope and how those are addressed in the plan. A summary of those areas are provided on the CWCB website.

Draft Colorado Water Plan Complete!

Rising demand from population growth and industry, if continued through 2050, threatens to leave 2.5 million people in Colorado with a water supply shortfall. Unless solutions are found to meet the gap between water demand and supply, the result could be, among others, agricultural dry-up. Therefore, and in response, in May 2013 Governor Hickenlooper ordered the development of a first-ever Colorado Water Plan. In mid-November the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) sent the Governor a draft of this plan that aims to shape the future of the resource in the state. The plan, which took a year-and-a-half to craft, was a monumental and unprecedented effort that involved the work of hundreds of individuals and organizations throughout Colorado. It is generally agreed that a variety of methods will need to be included in the Plan to meet the water supply needs of the state—conservation, development of already Identified Projects and Processes (IPP’s), agricultural “buy and dry,” and development of “new supply” projects. Taken together, these are referred to as the ‘four legs of the stool.’

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