STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
WATER RESOURCES REVIEW COMMITTEE
|Time:||09:01 AM to 04:34 PM|
|This Meeting was called to order by|
|This Report was prepared by|
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call
|Bills Addressed: ||Action Taken:|
|House Bill 12-1278 South Platte Groundwater Study|
Rising Groundwater Levels in South Platte Basin
Stormwater Permit Requirements
Colorado's Allocation of Animas-La Plata Project
Southern Delivery System
Moffat Collection System
Chatfield Reservoir Allocation Project
Final Permit Requirements for Denver Basin Wells
Old Dillon Reservoir Expansion Project
Beaver and Rio Grande Reservoir Expansion Projects
Northern Integrated Supply Project
Letter of Support for Chatfield Reallocation Project
Windy Gap Firming Project
USFS Order to Assign Ski Area-Owned Water Rights
Enforcement of Groundwater Management Rules
Draft Legislation Concerning Water Structure Location
Draft Bill Requested
Draft Bill Requested
Draft Bill Requested
09:01 AM -- House Bill 12-1278 South Platte Groundwater Study
Dr. Reagan Waskum, Colorado Water Institute, Colorado State University, explained that the General Assembly enacted House Bill 12-1278 concerning the South Platte river alluvial aquifer study. The act requires the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) in consultation with the State Engineer and the Colorado Water Institute, to conduct a comprehensive study to compile and evaluate available historical hydrologic data in the South Platte River Basin. The act directs the CWCB to contract with the Colorado Water Institute, which will conduct the study independently. The results of the study must be reported to the General Assembly by December 31, 2013. Dr. Waskum explained that the study will seek to determine the reason for rising groundwater levels in the South Platte Basin and identify potential solutions. He also identified the need for data that will help identify solutions to the problem and identified other resources that will be used to complete the study including a peer review process and contracts with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Tim Feehan, Assistant Director, Resources Management, CWCB, described the provisions of House Bill 12S-1001 that appropriated $500,000 to begin implementation of the South Platte groundwater data collection and analysis project. He also explained that the CWCB is contracting to update the South Platte Decision Support System.
Dr. Waskum responded to questions from the committee about prior studies of the South Platte Basin ground waters and he estimated when the study and an interim report would be completed. Mr. Feehan also responded to questions about other potential funding sources for pilot projects and studies. Dr. Waskum described the history of the regulation of groundwater pumping in the South Platte Basin.
09:26 AM -- Rising Groundwater Levels in South Platte Basin
Glen Fritzler, Fritzler Farms, described rising groundwater levels in the South Platte River Basin and its impact on his home and farm land. He also expressed concern about current regulations of ground water pumping and its effect on water use in the South Platte River Basin. He explained that Leprino Foods is expanding its cheese making operations in Greeley and described the need for milk to supply the plant. The cows that will produce the milk will significantly increase demand for corn that is dependent on a reliable water supply. He also proposed changes to the groundwater use regulations that would help address the rising ground water problem and allow additional irrigation using wells.
Mr. Fritzler responded to questions from the committee about the impact of the rising ground water on homes and farmers in the South Platte River Basin.
09:46 AM -- Stormwater Permit Requirements
Michael D. Sheahan, President, Front Range Aggregates, LLC, and President of the Colorado Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association, described problems with obtaining a stormwater discharge permit renewal from the Water Quality Control Division (WQCD).
Stephanie Fancher, Loveland Ready Mix Concrete, Inc., and Colorado Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association, expressed concern about the requirements for obtaining an industrial stormwater permit renewal for her company's operations. She explained that WQCD imposed additional monitoring and record keeping requirements in the renewed permit that are overly burdensome and provide questionable environmental benefits. She also responded to questions from the committee about the adequacy of training provided by the WQCD about the new permit requirements and responses from the WQCD to questions about the new permit requirements that were submitted by the Colorado Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association in a May 8, 2012 letter to the WQCD (Attachment A).
Joanna Hopkins, Environmental Permitting Coordinator, Everist Materials, LLC, Colorado Ready Mixed Concrete Association, expressed concern about the requirements for obtaining an industrial stormwater permit for her company's operations, including monitoring and record keeping requirements.
Diana Orf, Colorado Mining Association (CMA), expressed concern about the requirements for obtaining an industrial stormwater permit for certain mining operations, including monitoring and record keeping requirements (Attachment B). She also expressed concern about the environmental benefits of the requirements.
Steve Gunderson, Director, Water Quality Control Division, introduced himself and said he would be available for questions.
Janet Kieler, Permits Section Manager, Water Quality Control Division, described the requirements for obtaining a storm water permit for industrial facilities and how the division enforces these permits (Attachment C and D). She also described efforts to educated the regulated community about the permit requirements.
Ms. Kieler and Mr. Gunderson responded to questions from the committee about efforts to address questions from the regulated community about the permit requirements and the state and federal laws that require the WQCD to issue and review stormwater discharge permits. Permit terms are limited to five years and operators must reapply prior to expiration for continued permit coverage. Ms. Kieler also described the stakeholder review process of the new stormwater discharge permit requirements.
Mr. Gunderson responded to questions from the committee about the WQCD inspection criteria and process for stormwater permit holders.
Mr. Sheahan returned to respond to questions from the committee about the stormwater discharge permit requirements and possible regulatory changes to address his concerns.
10:59 AM -- Colorado's Allocation of Animas-La Plata Project
Tim Feehan, Assistant Director, Resource Management, Colorado Water Conservation Board, explained that the Animas-La Plata Project (A-LP) was constructed to resolve reserved water rights for Ute Tribes in the Southwest Colorado and address other water supply needs in the basin. Completed in 2010, the Animas-La Plata Project (A-LP) consists of a pumping plant on the Animas River near Durango, a conveyance pipeline, and a 120,000 acre foot (AF) reservoir named Lake Nighthorse. The reservoir is currently full and waiting to begin water deliveries. Most of the project's $500 million cost will be paid by the federal government to resolve reserved water rights claims by the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Southern Ute Tribe. Non-tribal beneficiaries will pay for the remainder of the project's cost. Under the Colorado Ute Settlement Act Amendments of 2000, the state of Colorado is allotted 10,460 AF of water — or 5,230 AF of depletions — in the A-LP Project. In order to acquire this water, Colorado must either purchase this water directly or identify municipal and industrial water suppliers who are willing to purchase the state’s allotment. In 2010, the Colorado General Assembly appropriated $12 million for three consecutive years, starting June 30, 2011, from the Perpetual Base Account of the Severance Tax Trust Fund for the purchase of the state of Colorado's allotment of A-LP Project water. The final payment was authorized in the 2012 CWCB Construction Fund bill. Mr. Feehan also identified potential uses of the state's allocation.
11:08 AM -- Southern Delivery System
Abby Ortega, Water Rights Administration Supervisor, Colorado Springs Utilities, described the services provided by the utility and identified the sources for Colorado Springs water supply including the Arkansas and Colorado River Basins. She also described how the Southern Delivery System (SDS) will address the city's growing demand for water. The SDS project will carry Arkansas River water from the Pueblo Reservoir to the cities of Colorado Springs, Fountain, as well as to the Pueblo West and Security Water districts. The project will have an estimated maximum capacity of 96 million gallons of water a day. The project is being executed by Colorado Springs Utilities in two phases at a total cost of $1.45 Billion. Construction of Phase One of the project commenced in June 2011, is estimated to cost $880 Million, and is scheduled to commence operations by April 2016. Ms. Ortega discussed the SDS project and identified the major components of the project including a pipeline from the Pueblo Reservoir, water treatment facility, pump stations, and several reservoirs.
Ms. Ortega described the impact of the recent Waldo Canyon wildfire on CSU water collection and distribution systems including the Rampart Reservoir. She also described fire mitigation efforts to help protect CSU facilities from floods and water quality impacts related to the fire.
Dan Hodges, Government Affairs Liaison, CSU, responded to questions from the committee about efforts to reduce the threat of wildland fires to CSU infrastructure. Ms. Ortega responded to questions from the committee about hydropower generation on CSU facilities and efforts to reduce water consumption by CSU customers. She also described efforts to address flood problems in Pueblo that are related to storm water discharges from Colorado Springs and other upstream communities on Fountain Creek.
11:32 AM -- Moffat Collection System
Travis Bray, Moffat Collection System Project Manager, Denver Water, described Denver Water's water collection and distribution system that supplies approximately 25 percent of Colorado's population (Attachment E). He also identified efforts to reduce consumption by Denver Water customers and efforts to address growing customer demands. He explained how the Moffat Collection System will help address that demand and identified major components of this system. He also identified major state and federal permits that are required for the project including the state fish and wildlife mitigation plan, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404 Permit, and Section 7 consultation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If approved, the Moffat Collection System project would enlarge Denver Water's existing 42,000-AF Gross Reservoir, located in Boulder County. The Denver Water is proposing construction on Gross Dam to raise the current dam height from 340 feet to approximately 465 feet, in order to triple the reservoir’s capacity and provide an additional 72,000 acre-feet of reservoir storage, and 18,000 acre-feet per year of new water supply to Denver Water’s customers.
Mr. Bray responded to questions from the committee about the design of Gross Reservoir and use of the facility for flood control related to deep snow packs.
Chris Piper, Government Relations, Denver Water, and Mr. Bray responded to questions from the committee about possible changes to permit requirements that would ease the cost of water development projects.
11:47 AM -- Chatfield Reservoir Allocation Project
Eric Hecox, Executive Director, South Metro Water Supply Authority (SMWSA), identified the membership and purpose of the SMWSA and explained how the Chatfield Reservoir Allocation Project would help address the growing water demand from South Metro communities. The purpose of the project is to convert flood control storage space of approximately 20,600 acre-feet in Chatfield Reservoir, which is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, into water supply storage space for municipal, industrial, recreation, and agricultural uses as well as fishery habitat enhancement.
Mr. Hecox identified other water development projects that are being developed by members of the SMWSA and described the role of Chatfield Reservoir in flood mitigation for the South Platte Basin. He also identified permits and environmental reviews required for the Chatfield Reservoir Allocation Project.
Rick McLoud, Water Resources Manager, Centennial Water and Sanitation District, identified potential beneficiaries of waters obtained from the Chatfield Reallocation Project that is sponsored by the Colorado Water Conservation Board and identified other local government and organizations that support the project (Attachment F). He also identified economic and environmental benefits of the project and potential mitigation measures to offset environmental impacts related to increase water storage in the Chatfield Reservoir.
Mr. McLoud responded to questions about environmental groups that support of project and organizations that are opposed or have concerns about the project. He also identified potential environmental mitigation projects to offset environmental impacts related to the reallocation project.
The committee recessed.
01:30 PM -- Final Permit Requirements for Denver Basin Wells
Dick Brown, Town of Bennett, described a problem with obtaining a well permit for a well owned by the towns of Bennett and Strasburg that are located in the Denver Basin.
Rick Fendel, Attorney for Town of Bennett and Town of Strasburg, described the permit requirements for municipal wells in designated basins. In eastern Colorado, there are few rivers, but there are large ground water resources. This ground water is essentially nonrenewable and isolated from surface streams. Wells are the primary source of water used in this area. To administer these wells, the law allows the formation of designated ground water basins that are regulated according to a modified doctrine of prior appropriation. Ground water basins are designated by the 12-member Ground Water Commission. Mr. Fendel identified problems with current law and how it affects the ability of municipalities to pump additional water to meet growing demand for water from the cities. He also urged the committee to amend current law to address the problem that he identified (Attachment G).
Kevin Rein, Deputy State Engineer, Division of Water Resources responded to questions from the committee about current law and the proposed legislation. In response to questions from the committee, Mr. Fendel explained that the proposed legislation would not affect wells that pump water connected to surface streams, called tributary wells, that are regulated according to the doctrine of prior appropriation.
01:57 PM -- Old Dillon Reservoir Expansion Project
Chris Treese, External Affairs Manager, Colorado River Water Conservation District, identified the location of the Old Dillon Reservoir and described a proposed project to enlarge it. Water from the project would be used to provide additional water for users in the Upper Colorado River Basin. Specifically, the expansion project will enlarge Old Dillon Reservoir from 62 acre-feet to 286 acre-feet in order to provide additional water for Silverthorne, Dillon and Summit County. Mr. Treese also explained how the project will be funded and identified the federal and local permits that were required for the project.
02:04 PM -- Beaver Park and Rio Grande Reservoir Expansion Projects
Travis Smith, Superintendent, San Luis Valley Irrigation District, Member of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, described the Rio Grande Cooperative Project that seeks to rehabilitate and expand the Rio Grande Reservoir and the Beaver Park Reservoir (Attachment H). The 2012 Water Conservation Board Construction Fund bill (House Bill 12S-1001) appropriates $30 million from the Perpetual Base Account of the Severance Tax Trust Fund for the Rio Grande Cooperative Project that will pay for improvements to the Beaver Park Reservoir and the Rio Grande Reservoir. The San Luis Valley Irrigation District owns and operates the Rio Grande Reservoir that is located on the headwaters of the Rio Grande in Hinsdale County, with a storage capacity of approximately 54,000 acre-feet. The reservoir is an on-stream facility that holds waters that are senior to the Rio Grande Compact. The reservoir has several dam safety issues related to seepage, spillway capacity, and outlet works. Repair of the facility is estimated to cost approximately $25 million.
Tom Spezze, Southwest Regional Manager, Division of Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), described the Beaver Park Reservoir that is owned by the division. Due to the development of a sinkhole in the reservoir, the storage in the reservoir has been significantly compromised. Rehabilitation of Beaver Park Reservoir would help protect CPW’senior storage rights and enable it to store transmountain water rights. Upon developing a storage lease with the San Luis Valley Irrigation District, CPW can both store its transmountain rights in Rio Grande Reservoir, and utilize the rehabilitated Beaver Park Reservoir to store its pre-compact decree rights. Storage and releases of CPW water rights can be optimized between the two reservoirs to maximize streamflow, riparian and wildlife benefits, and provide basin administration that benefits CPW other basin users. The estimated cost to rehabilitate Beaver Park Reservoir is $10M.
02:17 PM -- Northern Integrated Supply Project
Eric Wilkinson, General Manager, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, introduced himself and thanked the committee for the opportunity to discuss the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP).
Carl Brouwer, Project Manager, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District explained that NISP is a proposed water storage and distribution project that would supply 15 water partners in the Northern Front Range with 40,000 acre feet of new, reliable water supplies (Attachment I). The project will store excess water currently leaving the state in years of abundance, and will provide water each year through an exchange agreement with two local ditch companies. Specifically, the project consists of two reservoirs (Glade and Galeton), two pump plants, pipelines to deliver water for exchange with two irrigation companies, and improvements to an existing canal to divert water from the Poudre River. Mr. Brouwer discussed the need to identify alternative sources of water if the project is not completed (called no action alternative) and described pending federal environmental reviews and permit requirements. He also responded to question from the committee about the cost of the project including cost related to delays due to environmental studies.
Mr. Wilkinson identified alternative to mitigate potential impacts of the NISP on other water right, recreational users, and the environment. He described the growing water demands of the NISP beneficiaries and identified water conservation measures to help reduce that demand. He also described impacts to the NCWCD infrastructure related to the High Park wildfire and efforts mitigate the threat of future wild land fires.
The committee recessed.
03:07 PM -- Letter of Support for Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project
Senator Schartz discussed the provision of a draft letter to support the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project. This letter was requested by the South Metro Water Authority and the Centennial Water and Sanitation District. It will be delivered to the U.S. Department of Army Corps Engineers.
The letter was signed by the eight members of the Water Resources Review Committee who were present at the meeting (Attachment.J). A copy of the signed letter is posted on the committee's website.
03:14 PM -- Windy Gap Firming Project
Carl Brouwer, Project Manager, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, described the Windy Gap Project and storage limitations that have limited the yield from this project (Attachment K). In 1985, the Northern Water Municipal Subdistrict constructed the Windy Gap Reservoir near Granby, Colorado, which removes water from the upper Colorado River and delivers it to front range municipalities through the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. The original participants the Windy Gap project were Longmont, Greeley, Estes Park, Boulder and the South Platte Power Authority. The Windy Gap Firming Project (WGFP) would construct Chimney Hollow Reservoir to add 90,000 acre-foot to the current system to deliver more Colorado River water to Front Range municipalities. Cities that will receive water from the WGFP include Broomfield, Lafayette, Louisville, Loveland, Erie, Evans, Fort Lupton and Superior, the Central Weld County Water District, and the Little Thompson Water District.
Mr. Brouwer described the need for water from the project and efforts to reduce this demand through water conservation measures. He also identified potential impacts of the project and proposed measures to mitigate these impacts. He also described the permitting process for the project and identified project costs. He responded to questions from the committee concerning the Windy Gap project.
03:46 PM -- U.S. Forest Service Order to Assign Ski Area-Owned Water Rights to the U.S. Government
Geraldine Link, National Ski Area Association (NSAA), introduced herself and thanked the committee for the opportunity to speak to the committee about the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Directive Number 2709.11-2012-2, (the "2012 Ski Area Water Clause") that requires ski area permit holders to assign ski area-owned water rights to the U.S. government. She also identified the members of NSAA and described how ski areas use water for snow making and other purposes.
Glenn Porzak, Porzak, Browning & Bushong, explained that in 2004 the USFS and certain ski areas agreed to a clause that provided for exclusive ski area ownership of water rights that arise off of the ski area permit area, and co-ownership by the ski areas and Forest Service of certain water rights that arise on the special use permit area. In 2012, the USFS imposed a new water clause that requires the ski areas to transfer exclusive ownership of many types of water rights to the federal government without compensation (Attachment L). The USFS also did not provide a guarantee that the water would remain available for use by the ski areas and not allocated to another purpose such as instream flows for the environment. He expressed concern that the USFS action potentially affects other entities that have water rights associated with any National Forest System lands including local governments, owners of recreation residences and summer resorts, and other businesses such as ranching, mining, or utilities.
Mr. Porzak responded to questions from the committee regarding efforts to involve the Colorado Governor and the Attorney General in litigation to protect Colorado ski areas and other water rights owners from the USFS directive. He also described the authority of the U.S. Forest Service to obtain water rights.
Committee discussion followed about possible measures to address this issue including a letter from the committee, a joint resolution, and a bill. At its September 7, 2012 meeting, the Water Resources Review Committee requested that staff draft a letter, a joint resolution, and a bill to oppose the USFS order concerning the assignment of ski area-owned water rights to the U.S. Government for consideration. These measures will be considered at the September 27 meeting of the Water Resources Review Committee.
04:07 PM -- Enforcement of Groundwater Management Rules
Kevin Rein, Deputy Director, Division of Water Resources, described ground water administration by the Division of Water Resources according to regulations adopted by the Ground Water Commission. Once a basin has been designated, electors in the basin may create ground water management districts. Each district is empowered to regulate the use, control, and conservation of ground waters within the district. District rules and regulations are subject to review by the Ground Water Commission. Thirteen ground water management districts have been created within six of Colorado's designated basins. Mr. Rein explained that the districts have limited authority to enforce their rules. He proposed legislation to expand the enforcement authority of groundwater management districts. Mr. Rein responded to questions from the committee about the proposed legislation to expand the enforcement authority of ground water management districts.
04:16 PM -- Public Testimony
Dr. Robert Longenbaugh, representing himself, thanked the committee for holding its hearing on House Bill l2-1278 and expressed concern about the impact of the current drought on water users in Colorado. He also urged the committee to consider sponsoring legislation to allow emergency groundwater pumping during the drought.
04:29 PM -- Draft Legislation Concerning Water Structure Location
Senator Hodge explained the Division of Water Resources has identified a discrepancy between the decreed location of several water diversion structures and their actual location. A law passed in 2012 (Senate Bill 12-97) helped address a similar problem for another water diversion structure. This law creates a simplified procedure for applications to change a surface water point of diversion. Under current law, all changes of water rights, including changes in points of diversion, must be adjudicated.
The meeting adjourned.