Archive for September, 2010

Sep 30 2010

AR: Limited in focus, but more to come?

Published by under Uncategorized

Arkansas, where surface water is plentiful and groundwater heavily used, long has been a strong riparian state, with only relatively recent moves toward a reasonable-use doctrine. The state has however quite a while provided for issuance of non-riparian water use permits, which have some similarity to water right permits in appropriations states.

These have been only lightly used. Edward Swaim, general counsel of the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, which manages water quantity issues in the state, said that no more than about 20 had been issued up until about five years ago, mainly to cities and some industrial users. “Historically, not many people have asked for them,” he said.

But this week, he said, the commission issued its 1,000th such permit.
The driver behind the rapid increase in these permits has been shale oil mining in the western part of the state (comparable to such mining in Colorado).

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Sep 29 2010

AZ: Navajo table settlement decision

Published by under Arizona,Navajo Tribe

The 21st Navajo Nation Council on September 29 tabled the
Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement
, which would have resolved water rights claims between the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe. Both tribes are in settlement for water from the Little Colorado River System and from the Lower Basin of the Colorado River and have until October 13 to execute the settlement agreement.

After various points of order and questions of privilege, Honorable Amos Johnson (Forest Lake) offered a tabling motion. Johnson said the reason for his motion was to afford more time and make a decision in the best interest of the Navajo people. The Council voted on the tabling motion by a vote of 49-32.

In his tabling motion, Johnson directed the Navajo Department of Justice and Navajo Water Rights Commission to educate the Navajo people on the content of the water settlement within one week. Currently, there is a “stay” in the Arizona state court concerning the Lower Colorado River and in the federal court concerning the Colorado
River. Both tribes have until October 13 to execute the settlement agreement and with no agreement more litigation would occur.

The water settlement would give the Navajo Nation 31,000 acre-feet of water per year from the Colorado River. The settlement would also provide the Navajo Nation access to unappropriated surface flows from the Little Colorado River and nearly unlimited access to the Navajo and Coconino Aquifers, which are located beneath the Navajo Nation.

Johnson’s tabling motion also directs the Navajo Nation Council to convene for a work session to discuss the settlement thoroughly before a decision is made at a special session. The work session and special session are scheduled to occur before October 13.

“Time is not an ally, but the sky is not falling, and the settlement is not coming to an end,” said Navajo water rights attorney Stanley Pollack, who told the Associated Press. “People are interested in finding out more about it, and finding out more about a deal this important is a good thing.”

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Sep 28 2010

ID: Salmon scrambles for winter water

Published by under Idaho,municipal water

The city of Salmon, which has had and used water rights for more than a century, is set to face off with challengers over rights to use much of the city’s past winter water supply.

At the September 21 Snake River Basin Adjudication status conference, the city – through attorney Jo Beeman – asked to file a late notice of claim (75-02167) involving three creeks and a 1905 priority date. Other claims in the area are set for trial on December 28.
Judge Eric Wildman granted the request, noting that fees were paid and that he found good cause for untimeliness and a “meritorious defense for the claim” – but also noting prospective prejudice to other parties. He said he would ask for an expedited director’s report and would set an objection and response period.

No one objected to the filing but attorney Jerry Rigby, representing the Arrowhead Water District, said he would contest the terms of the claim itself, and hoped a collection of area water issues could be wrapped into a single legal action.

The action grew out of Salmon water rights originally recommended by the Department of Water Resources in January 2007, and then amended this year.

“That report removed any wintertime diversions for the city for its municipal system,” Beeman told the court. “The license was discovered by the engineering firm that I recommended the city hire when it began negotiations with the water users who had objected to the city’s water rights. With the filing of the amended director’s report [removing winter diversion rights], we went ahead to file this claim on behalf of the city.”

She later told the Digest that “The City of Salmon has some of the most senior rights in the Jesse Creek drainage which were originally decreed as irrigation rights, but then used for municipal purposes after the rights were purchased by the City. Year round (including winter) diversions (4.26 cfs) were included in the 2007 recommendations for three of the City’s water rights. The June 2010 amended recommendations have no winter diversions.”

Beeman said the city water system is set up around diversions from three creeks, Chipps, Pollarde Canyon and Jesse. Initial diversions come from Jesse, then move on to the other two if that is not sufficient.

She said that “The City of Salmon does have a very junior priority 1990 license for year round use from Jesse Creek which includes 5 cfs for winter use. The 1990 license is post-1987 so is not part of the SRBA. The City did file a late SRBA claim for a 1905 priority year round municipal use.”

For various reasons, the SRBA Court is continuing to receive a number of late claims, which it typically addresses at its monthly status conference meetings.

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Sep 28 2010

CO: Sending water shift to judge right away

Published by under Colorado

A proposal by the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District near Pueblo to shift water – more water actually, since it already has some – from the Lower Arkansas basin is still speculation. Woodmoor has no control, as yet, over the water it hopes to transfer, and no one has evaluated what impact if any there may be on other water right users.

The first stage in most transfer cases is to sent it for unofficial action to a referee, partly to spare the water courts substantial cost and time.

Despite all that, the Pueblo Board of Water Works, which is expected to oppose the Woodmoor proposal, said the new proposal is clearly significant enough that it should go to a water judge right away. That would be Division 2 Water Court Judge Dennis Maes.

The reason, Pueblo spokesman Hamel told the Pueblo Chieftain:

“This is going to be too complex a case and there are too many unknowns for this to be settled at the referee’s level. Many of the cases the board is involved in are settled by a referee. There are cases, such as the High Plains case, where the issues need to go to trial.”

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Sep 27 2010

KS: State’s largest-ever water right

Published by under hydropower,Kansas

Chief Engineer David Barfield signs the largest water right permit in Kansas history.

On September 22, Kansas Chief Engineer David Barfield signed a water appropriation permit granting the largest water right in the history of Kansas. File No. 47,275 authorizes approximately 2.5 million acre-feet of water per year for hydropower use at the North Lawrence Generation proposed powerhouse on the north side of the Kansas River in Lawrence, opposite the existing Bowersock Mills & Power Company hydropower plant. This is for nonconsumptive, flow-through water use.

To put this authorized quantity in perspective, the current estimated capacity of Milford Lake (largest in Kansas) is about 350,000 acre-feet in the multipurpose pool (not including temporary flood storage). The new permit authorizes Bowersock Mills & Power Company to divert seven times the volume of water in Milford Lake for flow-through hydropower generation at its North Lawrence Chief Engineer David Barfield signs the largest water right permit in Kansas history.

The permit includes a number of special conditions to ensure that the new use does not interfere with Kansas River Water Assurance District releases. It also requires collecting special data and ensuring proper coordination of operations. This is particularly important because there are several large municipal water rights downstream.

The permit does not constitute a water right unless or until the permit holder timely completes diversion works and lawfully puts water to beneficial use during the perfection period. If this occurs, a water right certificate will be issued.

Incidentally, Bowersock holds the second-largest water right in Kansas (and one of the oldest water rights in the state), which authorizes using 1 million acre-feet of water per year for hydropower at the existing south powerhouse on the Kansas River at Lawrence. A separate water right allows diverting an additional 150,000 acre-feet of water per year through the south powerhouse.

Bowersock said of itself that “The Bowersock Mills & Power Company is the only operating hydroelectric plant in Kansas. We welcome the public to visit and tour the plant. Visiting Bowersock is a great way to learn about Kansas history and demystify the production of electricity. Learning more about this 132 year old plant can help you understand electricity and the history of its production – but perhaps more importantly, it can help you think about the future of energy – something we all need to consider.

“A part of the flood control system of the Bowersock Dam. The baffles can be raised or lowered to control the amount of water that flows over the dam and is diverted to the power plant. A part of the flow control system of the Bowersock Dam. The baffles can be raised or lowered to control the amount of water that flows over the dam and is diverted to the power plant.

“In business since 1874, Bowersock currently provides the City of Lawrence with much needed river flow control for the public water intakes. Additionally, the water that passes through the plant produces up to 2.35 Megawatts of renewable non-polluting electrical power – enough to power nearly 1,800 homes. Bowersock is proud to be certified as a Low Impact Hydropower Facility. Achieving Low-Impact status is difficult, and as of Fall, 2008 there were only 31 hydroelectric power plants in the nation that had achieved this certification.”

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Sep 27 2010

CA: Will the claim be unbroken?

Published by under California

A water right claim and counterclaim centering on the Apple Valley Country Club near Victorville, subject of two competing summary judgement requests, is turning on whether the right has an unbroken history stretching back about 90 years.

The High Desert Community Foundation recently purchased the country club and the rights that go with it. The town of Apple Valley contested that water right shift, saying it was attached to the country club, not to the land. It also said that the major Mojave Water Adjudication more than a decade ago indicated that the seniority of the rights had been broken. The foundation disputed all of those characterizations.

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Sep 26 2010

CO: Irrigation down in the Arkansas?

In an extensive analysis, the Pueblo (Colorado) Chieftain on September 26 said that the amount of irrigated land – and presumably the amount of water used for irrigation – is dropping in the Arkansas River basin in Colorado.

Part of the reason, the paper said, is a series of water transfers out of the basin, often to more urban areas. “Transfers from 1950 to the present could take water off one-third of historically irrigated land in the Arkansas River basin — nearly 150,000 of 450,000 acres,” the paper said. And it indicated that state studies suggest the number could go even higher.

It also said, “In The Chieftain’s study, the 150,000 acres of land potentially removed since 1950 includes land that could be dried up either through direct sales of water rights to cities, towns, speculators or power companies; by loss of storage once used by irrigators; or by decreasing the use of well water either through shutdowns or augmentation.”

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Sep 24 2010

Murillo named BuRec operations chief

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor announced today that he has named David Murillo as the Deputy Commissioner, Operations. He will assume his new position in November of this year.

As Deputy Commissioner for Operations, Murillo will oversee operations in the Bureau of Reclamation’s five regions, the Native American and International Affairs Office, and Technical Resources which includes the Technical Service Center, Research and Development Office, Power Liaison, and Dam Safety Officer/Design, Estimating, Construction.

“Dave’s experience in working collaboratively with states, Tribes, water and power customers, and others to seek creative and collaborative solutions to western water and power issues will be a tremendous asset to Reclamation’s Washington office staff,” said Commissioner Connor. “I look forward to working closely with him and having the benefit of his experience as we implement our aggressive agenda on water and energy issues.”

Since 2006, Murillo has served as the Power Manager for the Grand Coulee Power Office, the largest hydroelectric facility in the United States. In this position he managed the Grand Coulee and Hungry Horse dams and powerplants. Grand Coulee Dam is the key feature of Reclamation’s Columbia Basin Project in central Washington, a multi-purpose project which provides flood control, irrigation, hydropower production, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. As Power Manager he managed an annual budget of $90 million and approximately 400 employees.

He joined Reclamation in 2000 as the manager of Reclamation’s Yakima Field Office, where he supervised a staff of about 60 employees. In that capacity he was responsible for the operation and maintenance of storage reservoirs, fish facilities, diversion dams and hydropower plants. He worked collaboratively to address the needs of irrigators, power interests, and the Yakama Indian Nation. Prior to joining Reclamation he worked for the Departments of Defense and Energy on Nuclear Controlled Pure Water and Waste Tanks as well as Steam Plants.

Murillo graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering in 1984.

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Sep 22 2010

Senate passes water act

The U.S. Senate on September 20 passed the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act, which will help provide sustainable access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation to 100 million of the world’s poorest people. The Water for the World Act, introduced by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), passed by unanimous consent and was sent to the House of Representatives.

“With nearly one billion people lacking sustainable access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion lacking adequate sanitation, the Water for the World Act significantly strengthens the U.S. Government’s response to the world’s most pressing public health issue,” said Water Advocates’ President, David Douglas. “This important legislation complements the efforts of US nonprofit development organizations, philanthropies, corporations, faith communities and civic groups,
and could profoundly improve millions of lives.”

The Senate passage of the bill comes at a time when there is a redoubling of efforts tied to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for water and sanitation at the MDG Summit in New York City this week. Among other world leaders, Africa’s first female Head of State, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, has made a plea for governments to finally tackle the global health crisis caused by unsafe water and inadequate sanitation.

The Water for the World Act represents a model for modernizing foreign assistance by demanding investments that are cost-effective, sustainable and pro-poor, utilizing an integrated approach, while leveraging private-citizen resources and requiring transparency.

“Senators Durbin and Corker have shown that bipartisan leadership is still possible, and the Senate as a whole has demonstrated that a strong consensus can form behind good policy,” continued Douglas. “Now it is up to the House of Representatives to finish the job and send this bill to the President.”

A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Donald Payne (D-NJ). The Water for the World Act was cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Bond (R-MO), Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Burr (R-NC), Burris (D-IL), Cantwell (D-WA) Cardin (D-MD), (D-PA), Collins (R-ME), Dodd (D-CT), Dorgan (D-ND), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY),
Isakson (R-GA), Johanns (R-NE), Johnson (D-SD), Kaufman (D-DE), Kirk (D-MA), Landrieu (D-LA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Leahy (D-VT), Lieberman (I-CT), Merkley (D-OR), Murray (D-WA), Reed (D-RI), Reid (D-NV), Roberts (R-KS), Sanders (I-VT), Shaheen (D-NH), Snowe (R-ME), Specter (D-PA) and Whitehouse (D-RI).

The Water for the World Act builds on the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005, which made access to safe water and sanitation for developing countries a major objective of U.S. foreign assistance.

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Sep 21 2010

CO: Case dismissed, no prosecution

Published by under Colorado

A potentially substantial Colorado water case, Donna Streu and Lake County v. Colorado Springs et al, was dismissed on September 20 for lack of effective prosecution.

Numerous deadlines were missed, the court said, a number of opportunities to pursue the allegations were not followed up.

The court said: Continue Reading »

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