TU's Western & Colorado Water Project Staff Notes

May 2008


We continue advocating for the state's effort to map non-consumptive water needs: http://ibcc.state.co.us/Process/Needs/NeedsAssessment/NonConsumptiveNeedsAssessment/.


We presented new Conservation Success Index (CSI) mapping on Colorado River Cutthroat Trout restoration opportunities in light of energy development and climate change at Colorado TU Council Rendezvous: http://tucsi.spatialdynamics.com/.


We worked with National TU staff and others to improve a last minute addition to the Farm Bill that would have waived all existing state and federal laws for farmers building reservoirs to capture surface flows across their lands during "exceptional drought." The provision still allows these farmers to get federal money to build such reservoirs, but it no longer waives all other legal requirements.


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 June 6 to allow negotiations to continue. Simultaneously, we are urging the Bureau of Reclamation to take advantage of the above-average snow pack by making a large flushing flow release this spring: http://www.gjsentinel.com/search/content/news/opinion/stories/2008/05/04/050408_Peternell_col.html


We helped to draft legislation, HB1141, that would more closely tie land use development (growth) to sustainable water supplies. The bill created much debate, but passed the General Assembly and will be signed into law.


The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) has released its Environmental Impact Study (EIS) on Colorado Springs’ Southern Delivery System. We will work on preparation of comments on the EIS and will be discussing mitigation measures with BOR and Colorado Springs: http://www.sdseis.com/


The Wild & Scenic workgroup in the Colorado River is progressing rapidly - we've developed plans to identify flows needed to protect values, including fisheries in the Colorado; also identified a number of potential ways to protect flows. We also submitted comments to San Juan Forest Service/BLM management plan revision, mostly dealing with Wild & Scenic river issues: www.rivers.gov/


We continue to participate in the Shared Vision Planning process surrounding Halligan Seaman and the Water Initiative Steering Committee of the Colorado Climate Project. For now this simply means attending the periodic meeting. As time permits we are also sitting in on some of the EIS-based meetings surrounding the Chatfield Reservoir expansion.


Three of the four bills we proposed to strengthen the instream flow program have passed into law. The legislation funds, for the first time, the state’s instream flow acquisition program and removes any risk that leasing water rights to the state for instream flow would result in a loss of the water right. The one bill that did not survive the legislative session would have created a tax credit for donating water to the instream flow program: http://www.cotrout.org/Conservation/Legislation/tabid/86/Default.aspx


We submitted responsive pre-hearing statements for the Colorado basin river standards hearing (mostly dealing with temperature). We are primarily concerned that cutthroat trout and waters where cutthroats are expected to occur were adequately protected.


In the past month, we have given presentations to four TU chapters and to CTU leadership at CTU’s annual meeting. We also gave a presentation to ORVIS guides in Crested Butte - talked about state-wide water supply issues (SWSI, roundtables, etc.) and a bit about oil & gas noncompliance - suggested ways they can help/be involved (e.g., participate in roundtables, report violations in remote places, educate clients, etc.)