Archive for October, 2007

Oct 31 2007

F: Pumping cut in Hardee County

The Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board Tuesday approved a project that will reduce groundwater pumping at a caladium farm in southwestern Hardee County.
The project involves installing an integrated irrigation system at Classic Caladiums, L.L.C. The system includes soil moisture sensors and the equipment needed to transmit the data to the grower’s computer system, which will help the grower make decisions on how to improve irrigation efficiency.
The goal of this project is to reduce pumping from the upper Floridan aquifer. According to a temporary water use permit approved in July 2007, the farm is permitted to use an average of 860,000 gallons per day (gpd) to irrigate 330 acres of caladiums. The project is expected to reduce pumping by 10 percent.
This project is part of the District’s Facilitating Agricultural Resource Management Systems (FARMS) program, which is a cost-share reimbursement program that conserves water and protects water quality. The program began by funding projects within the Southern Water Use Caution Area and has expanded to include projects within the entire District.
The FARMS program is jointly funded by state appropriations, the District’s General Fund, the District’s Governing Board and the District’s Alafia River, Hillsborough River, Peace River, Manasota and Withlacoochee River Basin Boards, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The FARMS Program is expected to reduce groundwater pumping by 40 million gallons per day over the next 20 years.
This project is expected to cost $170,000, of which up to $85,000 will be funded by the District’s Governing Board, the District’s Peace River Basin Board and state appropriations. The remaining will be paid by the farm.

http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/news/article/813/ October 30

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Oct 31 2007

TX: LCRA-SAWS sharing plan

Some answers are emerging from a multiyear study of a water-sharing plan for the Colorado River basin and the San Antonio area, but the verdict is still out on whether the proposal is viable, 125 residents and stakeholders were told at a project update meeting Oct. 30.
The Lower Colorado River Authority is studying the proposal to develop, conserve and share water with San Antonio Water System. LCRA hosted the meeting in El Campo to provide an update on scientific studies, now in their fifth year. The study period is scheduled to end no later than 2015.
The LCRA-SAWS Water Project proposes to reduce demand for water for irrigated agriculture and to produce more groundwater for use by farmers in Colorado, Wharton and Matagorda counties. The project also proposes building a holding basin, or off-channel storage facility, to capture and store water from rainfall and from upstream sources.
With the water saved and produced, LCRA would be able to provide a more reliable water supply for irrigation, meet requirements for higher lake levels in lakes Travis and Buchanan, and make up to 150,000 acre-feet of water available for SAWS annually for about 80 years. If the project goes forward, it would take many years and an estimated $2.2 billion to $2.4 billion to complete.
The most appropriate location for the holding basin is Pierce Ranch in Wharton County, LCRA consultants said. The preferred site was identified after studying a variety of criteria, from environmental impact to cost. After completing the study, LCRA does not plan to use lands earlier identified as potential storage sites in Colorado and Matagorda counties, said Leah Manning, who is heading the studies for LCRA.
Bob Brandes, a consultant who is leading the water availability study, said it is too early to say how much water supplies will cost and how much can be provided. He said preliminary data show that water could be made available to SAWS while also meeting the project’s water supply goals for the lower Colorado River basin. However, there are unanswered questions still under study that could affect the project, such as the impact of groundwater development and the need for water for environmental purposes.
Many questions at the all-day meeting centered on how LCRA would compensate landowners for acreage and right-of-way easements for an underground water pipeline. Manning said a local appraiser would determine the value of the land, opening the way for negotiations between LCRA and the landowner.
Manning also discussed the process for deciding whether to proceed with the proposal. During the study period, LCRA and SAWS will determine if the project can obtain federal, state and local permits. After the study period, the LCRA Board will determine if the project protects and benefits the river basin as required by House Bill 1629, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2001. The SAWS Board will decide if the project’s cost and water supply are acceptable.
Contact:? Robert Cullick?1-800-776-5272 Ext. 4086?or Merrell Foote?1-800-776-5272 Ext. 3234 Lower Colorado River Authority; November 1

?TX: LCRA and City of Austin Set Agreement

LCRA and Austin have finalized a long-term water supply agreement to work together to plan a long-term water supply for the City of Austin – up to 250,000 acre-feet of additional water through 2100.
The Austin City Council approved the water supply agreement at its meeting on Thursday, Nov. 8. The LCRA Board of Directors approved the agreement on Aug. 22.
LCRA and the City of Austin have established a more formal, collaborative framework, which they call the Water Partnership, under which they will work together to evaluate opportunities to manage water supplies to meet the needs of this region. The Water Partnership will evaluate the appropriate timing and amount of water supply Austin will need based on demand projections. The Water Partnership will then evaluate various water supply alternatives to meet Austin’s future water demand and present recommendations to the Austin City Council and LCRA Board for approval.
In recognition of the importance of public input, LCRA and Austin have committed to a process designed to consider stakeholder and other customer concerns as part of the water supply planning process. A stakeholder group will be created to provide input on various issues under consideration, and LCRA and Austin will report on the activities of the Water Partnership on their Web sites and directly to the LCRA Board, Austin City Council and its advisory boards and commissions, as well as the regional water planning group (Region K).?Approval of the supplemental water supply agreement also confirms the settlement of a long-standing dispute over water returned to the Colorado River from the City of Austin’s wastewater treatment facilities. The settlement agreement was approved in June 2007 and allows Austin and LCRA to share the water returned to the Colorado River and provides for environmental flow needs in the lower Colorado River and Matagorda Bay. To implement the settlement agreement additional water rights authorizations may be needed from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
“Rather than preparing for an expensive, lengthy court battle, LCRA and the City have come together to resolve our differences in a manner that benefits customers throughout the basin, provides for environmental needs in the basin and establishes a framework for responsible water supply planning,” LCRA Board Chair Ray Wilkerson said.
Lower Colorado River Authority November 9

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Oct 30 2007

NM/MI/WI: Water to the west?

New Mexico governor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson stirred up a hornet’s nest last month when he called for a national summit on water to address needs in the parched West including looking at a way for water-rich northern-tier states to help with shortages in the Southwest. He also said he would elevate the Bureau of Reclamation to a Cabinet-level post. The comments were made during an interview with the Las Vegas Sun newspaper.
Richardson said he wanted to see more communication between the western and eastern states, that he’d like to see a national water policy, and the comment that triggered quick, sharp rebuttals from some Great Lakes states: “States like Wisconsin are awash in water.” His comment was blasted by environmental groups as well as Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm who, when asked about the plan said, “Hell No. That’s my response.”
Richardson’s comments prompted a firestorm of official, environmental and editorial comments.
While Richardson, and other Westerners may see the East, especially the Great Lakes as having an abundance of water (and certainly by comparison to the arid West, they appear to), people in those states are currently struggling with concerns over diminishing levels in several of the Great Lakes.
The message from Richardson sounded alarm bells in the Midwest, where Lake Superior has hit a record low for this time of year, and Lakes Michigan and Huron are flirting with their own record lows. Meanwhile, a compact among the eight Great Lakes states to block large-scale diversions remains stalled in some state legislatures, including Wisconsin’s. A big reason for the snag is that some are worried its provisions are too restrictive and could throttle development within the Great Lakes. Compact advocates are hopeful Richardson’s pitch will spur lawmakers into action. Environmental groups in the Great Lakes responded sharply: “It’s ridiculous to say that,” said Hugh McDiarmid, spokesman for the Michigan Environmental Council. “Until the compact is passed, our water protections are hanging on by a thread.”
This isn’t the first time presidential candidates have flirted with the idea of using the Great Lakes for other water needs. In 2004, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry told the Free Press that Great Lakes water diversion issues required a “delicate balancing act” to provide for “national needs.” A day later, his spokesman took it all back, saying Kerry did not think water should be diverted from the Great Lakes.
After several days of stinging criticism in Michigan and Wisconsin, Richardson followed Kerry’s example and backed away from the idea: “Richardson in no way proposes federal transfers of water from one region of the nation to the other,” said a statement by his press secretary Tom Reynolds. “Richardson believes firmly in keeping water in its basin of origin and of the rights of states to oversee water distribution.”

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Oct 25 2007

Colorado Compact rules offered

The Colorado River District Board of Directors believes it is important for the State of Colorado to understand the risks and limits regarding how much water can be developed in the Colorado River system. The Colorado River District is particularly concerned about the risk of future curtailment of water use under the 1922 and 1948 Colorado River Compacts that could be created through the development of new, substantial junior water rights. The Colorado River District believes these limits and these risks must be better defined and better understood before the State Engineer adopts rules on how to administer a compact curtailment order.
These issues loom large as proposals for additional transmountain diversions, energy development, population growth, climate change, and other demands strain existing water supplies.
At its October 16-17, 2007, quarterly board meeting, the Colorado River District Board of Directors passed a motion that cautions the State about proceeding with rules without first studying how much water can be safely developed under the 1922 and 1948 Colorado River Compacts without an unreasonable risk of tripping a compact curtailment order. This study is just beginning under the direction of the Colorado Water Conservation Board pursuant to Senate Bill 2007-122 passed by the 2007 General Assembly.
Colorado’s compact agreements with other Colorado River Basin states require specific deliveries of water to downstream states. The Colorado River has never been under compact administration. However, compact administration and litigation elsewhere in the state, notably in the Rio Grande, Republican, and Arkansas River Basins, have caused substantial hardship and resulted in the dry-up of agricultural lands.
The Colorado River District asserts that the most important role for the State is to work proactively to avoid a compact curtailment and to work with water users to develop a plan to mitigate the adverse impacts of an unavoidable curtailment. Only then should rules and regulations be developed. This sequence ensures a more orderly and less contentious rulemaking process.
The text of the motion:
“It is premature and distracting for the State Engineer’s Office to promulgate rules and regulations to administer water rights in the event curtailment is necessary under the 1922 and 1948 Colorado River compacts. It is first necessary to complete the Senate Bill 07-122 Colorado River water availability study and to evaluate the available supply and associated risks of a compact curtailment. More importantly, the state’s policy priorities should be to avoid a compact curtailment and to work with water users to develop a plan to mitigate the adverse impacts of a curtailment. Rules and regulations for an unavoidable curtailment can then be developed in a more orderly and equitable manner without tremendous controversy.”

Contact: Jim Pokrandt,?Communications and Education; Colorado River District?(970) 945-8522 x 236?Cell: (970) 319-1807?jpokrandt@crwcd.org October17 Colorado River Water Conservation District

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Oct 25 2007

NV: Hearing on SNWA groundwater pumping

A February 4 hearing has been set by the state engineer on a request the Southern Nevada Water Authority to pump more than 11.3 billion gallons of groundwater annually from Cave Valley, Dry Lake Valley and Delamar Valley.
The applications are part of a $2 billion-plus project to pipe water across the desert to Las Vegas.
They are being opposed by, among other, farmers and ranchers who fear they could lose their groundwater supplies and thus their livelihood.
The three valleys are in central Lincoln County, which initially opposed the plan but reached an agreement with the water authority that specifies which groundwater basins can be developed, and also allows use of the pipeline, for a price, by the county.
In April, State Engineer Tracy Taylor granted a separate SNWA application to pump at least 13 billion gallons of groundwater a year from Spring Valley, located in White Pine County at the north end of the proposed pipeline. The amount approved for the first 10 years of pumping was less than half what the water authority requested, but it could be increased if no adverse effects from the initial pumping become evident.
The SNWA’s eventual goal is to tap into enough water in rural Nevada to serve more than 230,000 homes, in addition to about 400,000 households already getting the agency’s water in the Las Vegas area.

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Oct 23 2007

NE/CO: Platte legislation clears

The U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 1462, which will fund a recovery program for threatened and endangered species that have significant habitat along the Platte River in Nebraska.
The Platte River Recovery Implementation Program and Pathfinder Modification Authorization Act was sponsored by Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo. Similar legislation, S. 752, sponsored by Sens. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., Ken Salazar, D-Colo., Ben Nelson, D-Neb. and Charles Hagel, R-Neb., is pending in the U.S. Senate.
The legislation would authorize a 13-year recovery program for threatened and endangered species that have a designated habitat in Nebraska. The species include the whooping crane, the least tern, the piping plover, and the pallid sturgeon.
Under the recovery program, land will be obtained and managed to create additional habitat for the affected species and time water releases to meet their needs. Using adaptive management techniques, the program’s effectiveness in species recovery will be evaluated and fine tuned.
On October 10, the House Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed Udall’s proposal.
The recovery proposal is the outcome of over a decade of negotiations between Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming support the legislation along with multiple water users and several environmental organizations.
The Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, Water and Power Subcommittee held a hearing on S. 752 on April 25, but there has been no further advancement of the legislation on the Senate since the hearing in the spring of 2007.
October 23; Ted Kowalski Phone: (303) 866-3978

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Oct 20 2007

ID: First post-season aquifer recharge

The North Side Canal Company is providing use of its canal system, manpower, and equipment for the first ever post-irrigation season recharge of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer starting Saturday and continuing until late November.
The goal is to direct the greatest amount of water from the canal through the aquifer toward the Thousand Springs reach of the Snake River. The water used to recharge the aquifer is being purchased by the Idaho Ground Water Appropriators and the Idaho Dairymen’s Association. The recharge is part of mitigation agreements submitted to the Idaho Department of Water Resources on June 29 in order to avoid water curtailment that was set to take effect July 6. The curtailment orders were issued as part of a continuing response to water delivery calls made in 2005 by senior water right holders Blue Lakes Trout Farm and Clear Springs Foods’ Snake River Farm.
The post-irrigation season recharge will add water to the aquifer and provide mitigation for the water diversions of the junior ground water users to compensate the spring users for their 2007 water shortage.
The post-season aquifer recharge is unique because most often the canals are used to deliver water from the Snake River to another location, such as a farm, with as little water loss as possible. In this instance the canals are being used to deliver water to specific locations in the North Side canal system as identified using the state’s computer model of the Eastern Snake Plain aquifer. Water that leaks out of the canal system into the ground is projected by the computer model to provide maximum benefit to the springs. IDWR hydrologists will monitor the recharge effort and use various flow measuring devices, including acoustic Doppler, to determine where the water enters the aquifer. The computer model will again be used to assess the effects of the recharge on spring flows.
This project will also help IDWR hydrologists understand the interaction between the network of canals and the water contribution to the aquifer, and provide useful information for future aquifer recharge projects.
Earlier this week North Side Canal Company ended its irrigation operations for the year. The company then drained and prepared the canal system for the recharge project, which will commence tomorrow morning and will last for approximately six weeks. The aquifer recharge will take place in a limited window between the end of the irrigation season and the onset of ice buildup in the canal system.
The aquifer recharge project required considerable collaboration between the North Side Canal Company, the Idaho Department of Water Resources, the Idaho Ground Water Appropriators, and the Idaho Dairymen’s Association.
“It’s gratifying to see these entities working together to improve the aquifer and the flows from the springs,” says IDWR Director David Tuthill. “This is the kind of cooperation that we’ll need more of in the future to make it through dry water years. This kind of effort really addresses the problem and provides solutions instead of other options like curtailment.”

Contact: Bob McLaughlin – 208-287-4828 Boise, Idaho – October 19

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Oct 17 2007

NV: Washoe OKs new imports

Published by under fish,Nevada,Transfers

At their October 16 Board meeting, Commissioners approved an agreement between Washoe County and Fish Springs Ranch, LLC. This agreement provides a means to operate an infrastructure constructed by FSR that will deliver water from Honey Lake Valley to serve the North Valleys’ communities of Lemmon Valley and Golden Valley.
In order to provide the imported water to users in Lemmon Valley and Golden Valley, the agreement transfers approximately $100 million of assets from FSR at no cost to Washoe County to own, operate and maintain the water importations infrastructure. The infrastructure being dedicated includes pipelines, pump stations, storage tanks, well pumps, roadway easements, weather stations and electrical distribution easements.
The water rights associated with the importation project from Honey Lake Valley were previously banked with Washoe County for use by third party developers. Although there is no cost associated with this agreement, future fiscal impact will be the operation, maintenance and repair and replacement costs associated with the project. Washoe County will develop a rate structure for users benefiting from this new water supply to recoup these operational and administrative costs.

Contact: Kathy Carter ?(775) 328-6169; Washoe County, Nevada

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Oct 17 2007

GA: Governor opposes ACE releases

Governor Sonny Perdue announced that the state of Georgia will seek a court order requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to restrict water flows from Lake Lanier and Georgia’s federal reservoirs.
“The Corps’ nonsensical action to further release vital water from Georgia’s already depleted federal reservoirs must not stand,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “There is simply no scientific justification to operate these reservoirs in this manner during a historic drought like the one we are experiencing. The Corps’ current operation of the basin will only cause greater harm to the very endangered species they claim to be protecting. If, however, the Corps is determined to make this ill-advised choice in favor of mussel and sturgeon species over Georgia citizens, then I must do all within my power to protect our citizens during this devastating drought.”
The state’s motion for preliminary injunction is made necessary by the Corps’ refusal to modify its operating plan as stated in its written response received by the state at close of business on Wednesday. The response indicates that the federal agency will not abide by the Governor’s request for the immediate alteration of releases from reservoirs from the Apalachicola/Chattahoochee/Flint (ACF) river basin, so that releases are only equivalent to inflows, up to 5,000 cubic feet per second (CFS). Governor Perdue’s request to the Corps was delivered on Friday, October 12, with a deadline of close-of-business October 17.
“I am confident that Congress did not pass the Endangered Species Act with the intention of providing protection for species of mussel and sturgeon at the expense of critical human needs,” said Governor Perdue. “Litigation is never how I choose to deal with issues, but the Corps has left us no choice. While the Corps’ letter indicated that it will work towards a process to address our concerns, Georgia is out of time.”
The motion for preliminary injunction will be filed this week, seeking an immediate modification of the water flows leaving Georgia reservoirs to flow downstream intended to provide roughly double the amount of water for endangered mussel and sturgeon species than that which would be provided by nature under these circumstances.
“We are in the midst of the worst drought in Georgia history. Continuing to siphon water out of Georgia now will not only deplete our state’s critical water source,” said Governor Perdue. “It will also mean less water for the endangered species in the future, because once our water is gone we cannot contribute any more. Moderating our releases now is the only solution that will benefit all involved parties: the citizens of Georgia, Alabama, Florida and the endangered species. It is a shame that our federal agencies have forced us to file suit to protect all of these interests.”
In June 2006 the state of Georgia sued the Corps over its operating plan which calls for the imprudent releases of water from Georgia’s reservoirs at levels which threaten Georgia’s human population and do not have scientific justification for the downstream endangered species.

October 17 Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774

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Oct 16 2007

FL: Shortage halts withdrawals

A lingering water shortage and record-low water levels in Lake Istokpoga, the fifth largest lake in the State of Florida, has forced the South Florida Water Management District to declare another water shortage emergency for the Upper Indian Prairie Water Use Basin.
An emergency order signed this week by SFWMD Executive Director Carol Ann Wehle calls for an immediate termination of all water withdrawals directly from Lake Istokpoga or from any of the canals not separated from the lake by a structure. This order immediately affects four SFWMD water use permit holders and several dozen area residents, who depend on Lake Istokpoga for landscape irrigation. Drinking water supplies and water drawn from wells for irrigation are not affected by this order.
Since the early 1960s, water levels in Lake Istokpoga have been regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps’ regulation schedule prohibits water releases from Lake Istokpoga and canals connected to the lake when the lake’s water level declines below a critical threshold. At 38.54 feet above sea level as of this morning, the water level in Lake Istokpoga is dangerously low for this time of year and approximately 0.30 feet below this critical mark.
Earlier this year, as the severity of the regional drought increased, the District requested and received a temporary deviation to Lake Istokpoga’s regulation schedule to allow releases from the lake down to a minimum stage of 36.50 feet above sea level to meet downstream demands. Successful water shortage planning efforts and effective regional water conservation measures enabled the District to avoid using the deviation. A new request to the Corps now asks for a time extension to the earlier deviation; however, because the request is pending, users whose withdrawal points are directly connected to the lake must cease water withdrawals immediately.
Highlands County Code Enforcement staff will be dispatched to the area to identify potential violations until weather conditions change and the available water supply improves.
If the basin receives sufficient rainfall and Lake Istokpoga water levels rise above the critical lake stage, users will be allowed to make limited withdrawals, subject to Phase III water restrictions already in place in the area. Conversely, should stages in the lake or adjacent canals continue to decline, other permitted water users may be affected. The SFWMD will publish information about which canals may be used for water withdrawals on a weekly basis each Friday – or on a daily basis should canal levels continue to drop.
Lake Istokpoga covers a total of 27,692 acres, but averages only four to six feet in depth. Its basin covers 607 square miles (388,480 acres). Water levels in the lake are highly dependent on rainfall and tributary inflows. Additionally, this area does not have a large reliance on groundwater because of the low yields of the area’s aquifer and its poor water quality.

October 15 Contact: Missie Barletto Office: (863) 462-5260 Cellular: (863) 634-0774

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