Western & Colorado Water Project Staff Notes

February 2008  We gave two more presentations on the bog of Clean Water Act jurisdiction, and while it's clear that everyone thinks the system is a mess, we do not all agree on what the fixes are, which is one reason that the Clean Water Restoration Act is not moving in the House. The courts, meanwhile, have not been uniform in their rulings, but have ruled in a way that would harm the environment in only a very few cases (most recently in the 11th Circuit regarding Avondale Creek, but early on in one case in the 9th Circuit, which has otherwise done a pretty good job). 

TU and the other parties to the Colorado water court proceedings to quantify the Black Canyon reserved water right are engaged in mediation. The court has stayed proceedings until April to allow negotiations to continue. 

TU and others from the conservation community have helped to draft a bill that would that would more closely tie land use development (growth) to sustainable water supplies. 

The water court judge in the Dry Gulch remand has ordered the parties to submit briefs outlining positions on how the case should be decided. 

We have been preparing written testimony on Bear Creek, a semi-urban trout stream in the transition of the South Platte that is going to be removed from the 303(d) list. This stream is particularly prized by the local chapter of TU who have done extensive restoration work on the stream. Our testimony focuses on the need for continued vigilance on the part of the state, especially given that the improvements that have been observed in the fishery since the stream was originally listed have been short-lived. 

We are evaluating available information on the Windy Gap Firming process in anticipation of the upcoming draft EIS. 

We will be advocating for three bills to strengthen the instream flow program in the 2008 legislative session. The press release for the bills can be found at: http://www.cotrout.org/News/MediaRoom/TULegislativeAgenda/tabid/249/Default.aspx 

We are working on sheepherding last year’s Instream Flow (ISF) proposals through the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) and preparing to bring 5 more streams forward in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Wildlife at the CWCB’s February ISF workshop.