Spring 2010

Water Law

CU-Boulder Law School Studies Possible Reforms to Colorado River Management

Demands on the Colorado River by the seven states in its basin are not sustainable. A complex web of treaties, compacts, laws, and court decisions govern who can use the river's water and when. But over the last several decades, those rules have not kept the yearly demand for water from exceeding the average flow.

Legislative Update by Senator Bruce Whitehead

It seems to happen to every legislator at least once in his or her time at the Capitol. A bill you are certain is noncontroversial becomes far more complicated and contentious than you expected.

People & Organizations

Kroeger Steps Down from Durango Water Commission

Fred Kroeger, local water icon, stepped down from the Durango Water Commission in February after 64 years advocating for agricultural and Native American water rights. When asked why he decided to step away from public service, Kroeger said, “I'm 92.

Kennedy Received Headgate Award

Gary Kennedy, superintendent of the Mancos Water Conservancy District and Bureau of Reclamation Dam Tender was recently awarded the Colorado Headgate Award for his service to the Colorado irrigated agricultural community. Kennedy's early career started in the oilfields in the Four Corners area.

Broennan New Santa Fe Watershed Association Executive Director

Felicity Broennan, active in many local water and watershed projects, has taken a new position as the Executive Director of the Santa Fe Watershed Association. Felicity was on the Mancos Water Conservancy District Board. In addition, she was a part of the Mancos Conservation District team and the coordinator of the Mancos River Day.

U.S. Forest Service Update

The U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, has launched a new informational website (www.fs.fed.us/r2/water/) to help educate the public on vital water issues. The Forest Service has designated water as a top priority and is working to build awareness of the forest-to-faucet link through web-based public education.

Norwood Water Commission Update

The days of receiving drinking water safety violation notices from the Norwood Water Commission are over. On March 3rd, the commission switched to a new water treatment method. In order to increase the quality of drinking water in the Norwood water district, the commission will stop using chlorine to disinfect water.

Hermosa Creek Workgroup Update

A plan to set aside some 150,000 acres in the Hermosa Creek drainage as a Special Management Area for the Forest Service was endorsed by the San Juan County commissioners in February in a unanimous vote. It includes plans to establish a 50,000-acre wilderness area on the West Bank of the Hermosa.

Dolores Water Conservancy District’s McPhee Reservoir Update

Eight years after a fire tore through the McPhee Reservoir marina, the area will receive some much needed development due to the work of the McPhee Breakwater Project, Montezuma County, and grants from the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

CWCB Funds Update

On February 24th, the Colorado Senate gave preliminary approval to almost $500 million in budget cuts that would balance the state's budget.

Colorado Water Congress/IBCC Update

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter outlined three ‘pillars’ for providing water to Colorado in the future at the Colorado Water Congress 52nd Annual Conference in January. “We face really serious challenges,” Ritter told the group.

Current Events

Abandonment List Out in July

Abandonment of a water right involves its non-use and the demonstrated intent to legally give up the right to use water for the decreed purpose. The abandonment process is conducted by the Colorado Division of Water Resources every ten years pursuant to Section 37-92-401 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Big Agriculture Probes

Some Obama administration officials have made clear their unease with the increasing control a handful of corporations have over the nation's food supply. At a gathering in Iowa in March they could show whether they are serious about changing the system. The first joint workshops on agriculture by regulators at the U.S.

Colorado River Availability Study Released

Colorado may have 900,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water left to develop--or it may have nothing. While some general trends are apparent, a new study can't pin down the exact conditions 30 or 60 years from now, but it gives planners better tools. The Colorado Water Conservation Board released Phase I of Colorado River Availability study in February for public review.

Dust on Snow Update

Water Year 2010 has already distinguished itself from Water Year 2009 by the absence of dust-on-snow events, to-date. By March 1, 2009 there were three dust-on-snow events in the western San Juan Mountains. So far this season, however, we have observed only one dust-on-snow event.

Oil & Gas Update

Gas groups began filing for water rights the first quarter of 2010. The companies include BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. They are filing applications for rights to water that comes out of their wells during the process of producing natural gas.

Water & Growth Update

A study commissioned by the Front Range Water Council was undertaken to explain the relationship of water to the Colorado Economy. The Council is made up of the state’s largest water providers, who are also importing most of the water from the Western Slope. The Front Range represents 82 percent of the population and 86 percent of income.

Weather Update

December 2009 registered as the all-time record low for temperatures in more than 100 years of data. La Plata Electric Association, one of our local energy providers, keeps track of temperatures and reports that December was 15 percent colder than the previous year. In addition to frigid degrees, southwest Colorado has seen above average snowfall in the lower regions.

Water Quality / Conservation

Interior Department Launches WaterSMART Initiative

In February, Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, signed a Secretarial Order establishing a new water sustainability strategy for the United States called WaterSMART (SMART stands for ‘Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow’).

Manure Pollution

Animal manure, a byproduct as old as agriculture, has become an unlikely modern pollution problem, scientists and environmentalists say. The country simply has more dung than it can handle: Crowded together at a new breed of megafarms, livestock produce three times as much waste as people, more than can be recycled as fertilizer for nearby fields.

Water History

Stewart Udall, former Interior secretary, environmental leader and political patriarch, dies at 90

Former U.S. Interior Secretary Stewart Udall--uncle of U.S. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, father of another senator and patriarch of one of the West's leading political families—passed away March 20th at his Santa Fe home. He was 90.

Art Isgar, Passes at 94

Art Isgar, the father of former two-term state senator Jim Isgar, passed away March 23rd. He was 94. Isgar, with little money or formal education, was on his own by age 13. Eventually, however, he was able to buy 80 acres near Breen, about 16 miles west of Durango. At one point, Art said he was lucky to be alive. As a child, he suffered a ruptured appendix.