Well Regulation in the South Platte River Basin

South Platte River Basin Task Force June 29, 2007 Union Colony Civic Center Greeley, Colorado Dick Wolfe, M.S., P.E.

www.water.state.co.us

What Defines the South Platte River System?
• This physical system is defined by the geographic boundaries of the South Platte River and its tributaries in Colorado extending from the surface to the base of the alluvial ground water aquifers.

Inflow – Outflow = Change in Storage
Inflow
Precipitation (snow and rain) Transmountain water imports Return flows from bedrock ground water aquifers (NT, NNT) Stream flow into the system Ground water inflow

Outflow
Evapotranspiration Evaporation Stream flow out of the system Depletions associated with human activities Recharge to bedrock aquifers Ground water outflow

Change in Storage
Alluvial storage capacity (3.4 MAF unsaturated and 13.6 MAF saturated) Reservoir storage capacity (1.77 MAF active and 3.46 MAF conditional)

COLORADO HISTORICAL AVERAGE ANNUAL STREAM FLOWS (acre feet)
311,100 111,800
MIE RA LA

403,400

404,600

NO. PLATTE

414,300

SN AK E

LIT T

1,127,000

K EL

LE

265,800
CA CH EL AP

99,500 875,600 634,500

1,531,000

YAMPA 334,400 WHITE
PICEANCE

6
185,200

476,300 229,200

45,590 54,760 329,200
BLUE

OU DR E 158,800 E ATT ST. V H PL RAIN OUT S 404,400 85,540
DER BOUL

31,680 NORTH FORK REPUBLICAN

WEST TOWARD PACIFIC OCEAN 8,867,450 af

27,700

50,050 33,760 BEAR
NO. FOR K

413,200
EAGLE

1
270,500 126,800

5
COLORADO 4,500,000
NO.

879,800
ROARING FORK

2,799,000
K FOR

58,146 88,051

K OR HF At Benkelman, NE UT SO

N ICA BL PU RE

28,750

63,038

279,70 0
FOUNTAIN

505,600

1,872,000 219,800
UN

943,000

330,500 547,300 528,200

69,750 699,200

2
89,820 164,200

GUNNISON
GRAPE

SA N

172,000
M IG UE L

125,100 TOMICHI

ARK ANS AS

4
394,300 153,000
RIO GR

3
24,933 653,300
AN DE

26,930
SH AP A

HUERFANO 18,970

LA PLAT A

37,100

McELMO 31,890
MANCOS

ANIMAS & FL ORIDA LOS PINOS PI ED RA SA N JU AN

291,20 0

SO FO UT RK H

593,600

49,640 CONEJOS
MA HA -C

322,100

36,890

25,580 670,100 173,700

Prepared by the Hydrographic Branch (2003 Revision) Historic averages obtained from USGS Water-Data Report CO-02

268,600 446,900 + 291,200

235,800

94,180 TOTAL LEAVING COLORADO 10,240,500 af

OFFICE OF THE STATE ENGINEER COLORADO DIVISION OF WATER RESOURCES

PU RG

7

152,600

AT O

AP I

313,200

96,300

IR E

47,020

EAST TOWARD ATLANTIC OCEAN 1,373,000 af

555,200

204,400

DOLORES

E GR AH MP CO

SA N AN JU

State of Colorado, Division of Water Resources, Division 1, South Platte River Drainage.

76 48 3
Larimer
FORT COLLINS NUNN

SEDGWICK

#

Logan
#

Sedgwick
HOLYOKE

64
Weld

STERLING

#

#

#

Priority Dates Of Controlling Water Rights

4
#
ESTES PARK

Phillips

GREELEY

#

Early 1860’s
FORT MORGAN

Boulder

5
#

#
KEENESBURG

Morgan

YUMA

65
WRAY

#

6
Gilpin Clear Creek

2

#

#

Late 1860’s To Early 1870’s Early 1880’s Late 1880’s To Mid-1890’s

BOULDER

Adams

1

Washington

Yuma

7

DENVER

BENNETT

Jefferson
CASTLE ROCK

9

Denver

#

#

Arapahoe

8
#

80
Park

Douglas

Elbert

Lincoln
FLAGLER

#

49

Kit Carson

23

WOODLAND PARK

El Paso Cheyenne
N W S E

Teller

# #

Cities Division 1 Boundary Division 1 Districts Division 1 Counties Main Rivers

South Platte River Compact April 27, 1923
Key Provisions
• Divides South Platte River Basin into “Upper Section” and “Lower Section • South Platte River Compact applies only in “Lower Section” (Washington County line to State Line, District 64) • Flow of river is measured flow of Julesburg gage plus inflow below gage and above Western Canal diversion • Between April 1 and October 15, Colorado shall not permit diversions with appropriation dates junior to June 14, 1897 when the flow of the river is less than 120 cfs unless the diversions are augmented • Colorado has the right to the full and uninterrupted use of the waters of the South Platte River from October 16 to March 31

South Platte River Basin Hydrology
Native flows for total basin estimated to be 1,400,000 acre-feet annually by the USGS Transmountain water provides approximately another 400,000 acre-feet per year Ground water pumping from high capacity alluvial wells located along the South Platte River are estimated to provide over 500,000 acre-feet annually Total annual surface water diversions equal approximately 4,000,000 acre-feet

South Platte River Basin Irrigation
• Approximately 1 million irrigated acres
– Approximately 18% is served by ground water only – Approximately 27% is served by a combination of surface and ground water – Approximately 55% is served by surface water only

Irrigated Area Along the South Platte River

S edg wick

Loga n P hillip s W eld

M org an

W as hin gto n
i l C p d i 1 o t i . h e v c u n e s p d s

Yu m a

A dam s

De nv er A rapa hoe n
W S N E

Lin co ln

TRANSMOUNTAIN DIVERSIONS
OFFICE OF THE STATE ENGINEER
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 41 42 43 11 10 GREELEY SOUTH
ER RIV

YAMP A

TO COLORADO RIVER BASIN
40. DIVIDE HIGHLINE FEEDER DITCH 41. SARVIS DITCH 42. STILLWATER DITCH 43. DOME DITCH 44. REDLANDS POWER CANAL

TO SOUTH PLATTE BASIN

1

IVER DO R ORA COL

5
GLENWOOD SPRINGS

13 12 14 21 20 19 18 15

DENVER

22

GRAND JUNCTION

23 39 40 24 17 16

44 DELTA

TO GUNNISON RIVER BASIN
36. RED MOUNTAIN DITCH 37. CARBON LAKE DITCH 38. MINERAL POINT DITCH 39. LEON TUNNEL
R RIVE RES DOLO

RI VE R

4
GUNNISON

1. WILSON SUPPLY DITCH 2. DEADMAN DITCH 3. BOB CREEK DITCH 4. COLUMBINE DITCH 5. LARAMIE POUDRE TUNNEL 6. SKYLINE DITCH 7. CAMERON PASS DITCH 8. MICHIGAN DITCH 9. GRAND RIVER DITCH 10. ALVA B. ADAMS TUNNEL 11. MOFFAT WATER TUNNEL 12. BERTHOUD PASS DITCH 13. STRAIGHT CREEK TUNNEL 14. VIDLER TUNNEL 15. HAROLD D. ROBERTS TUNNEL 16. BOREAS PASS DITCH 17. HOOSIER PASS TUNNEL

2
25 PUEBLO
ARK ANS AS RIV ER

TO ARKANSAS BASIN
18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. COLUMBINE DITCH EWING DITCH WURTZ DITCH HOMESTAKE TUNNEL CHARLES H. BOUSTEAD TUNNEL BUSK-IVANHOE TUNNEL TWIN LAKES TUNNEL LARKSPUR DITCH HUDSON BRANCH DITCH MEDANO PASS DITCH

MONTROSE

28 29

38 36 37

3
30 31
RA ND E ALAMOSA RIO G

26 27

DURANGO

7

32

33 34

TO RIO GRANDE BASIN
28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. TARBELL DITCH TABOR DITCH WEMINUCHE PASS DITCH PINE RIVER-WEMINUCHE PASS DITCH WILLIAMS CREEK-SQUAW PASS DITCH DON LA FONT DITCHES 1 & 2 TREASURE PASS DITCH SAN JUAN-CHAMA PROJECT

35

Updated June 2005

PL AT TE

RIV ER

6

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS

Division 1 Diversions
5,000,000

4,500,000

4,000,000

3,500,000

Amount (Ac-Ft)

3,000,000

2,500,000

Total Diversion
2,000,000

Transmountain Diversions

1,500,000

1,000,000

500,000

05 02 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 03 20 04 20 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 20 20 20 20 20 06

Year

South Platte River at Kersey
Irrigation Water Year
3500

3000

2500

Flow (cfs)

2000

1500

1000

500

0 Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct

Historic* Mean Flow
*1901-2005

Historic* Min Flow

2006-2007 Mean Flow

2005-2006 Mean Flow

South Platte River at Julesburg
Irrigation Water Year
1600

1400

1200

1000 Flow (cfs)

800

600

400

200

0 Nov Dec
*1902-2005

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Historic* Mean Flow

Historic* Min Flow

2006-2007 Mean Flow

2005-2006 Mean Flow

South Platte River Basin Water Use
2005 Surface Water Use Breakdown

Augmentation Recharge 6% 7% Industrial 4%

Municipal 21%

Irrigation 62%

General Well Information
Approximately 9,000 decreed high capacity wells in South Platte River basin and its tributaries on record. Less in actual existence. Have inventoried approximately 7,400 high capacity wells Still verifying use of remaining 1,600 wells (verification is starting near the river and moving away from traditional irrigated areas; it is estimated that 80% of these wells are in existence, but only 15% are being used)

General Well Information
For 2007, the anticipated number of Division 1 Substitute Water Supply Plans (“SWSPs”) with wells that will operate in 2007 is approximately 125. (This only includes SWSPs per 37-92-308, C.R.S., with wells.) Approximately 1,300 wells are included in these 125 plans. The number of wells operating in decreed augmentation plans in Division 1 is approximately 3,700.

Changes in Water Supply, Availability, Use and Administration
Drought/climate change Earlier calls because of well use limits Development of recharge projects Increased reuse of transmountain diversions Lining of gravel pits below Denver and on tributaries to recover reusable supplies (pumping or exchange to cities) Increased value of water and drought conditions have led to less cooperation and tighter administration, for example, no more “Gentleman’s Agreement (historical agreement between reservoir operators to allow upstream, out-of-priority storage during winter fill season).

Call Com parison
(D istrict 1 Calls Senior to Administration N 44698, 5-26-1972) o.
35

1950-2002 2003-2006

30

25

Days of Call

20

1 5

1 0

5

0

No ve mb er De ce mb er Ja nu ar y Fe br ua ry

Ma rc h

Ju ne

Ap ril

Ma y

Ju ly

Month

Note: Free River 4/25-6/12, 2007

Se pt em be r Oc tob er

Au gu st

South Platte R echarge
000 250 000 200 000 150 000 100 00 500

Over 200,000 AF in 2007

Total Recharge

District 1 District 2
1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

District 64
1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006

0

Year

Farmers Independent Ditch Recharge Site

New Direct and Indirect Reuse of Fully Consumable Supplies

• Denver Water Reuse Plant (12 cfs presently, 68 cfs eventually) • Other reuse projects by Broomfield, FRICO, ECCV and United Water • Pump Installation in Chatfield Reservoir to Recover Environmental Releases from Strontia Springs Reservoir (30-60 cfs)

New Direct and Indirect Reuse of Fully Consumable Supplies • Claims by Denver, Aurora, and others to exchange or use reusable lawn returns (>15 cfs) • New lined gravel pit storage downstream of Denver to pick up reusable supplies to exchange or use directly (estimated over 100,000 acre-feet within next 10 years) • Calpine (Rocky Mtn. Energy Center) 3,000 acft/yr for treatment plant (average 4 cfs)

Gravel Pit Reservoir Sites Along South Platte River

Farmers Respond to Changes
Increased use of surface water supplies especially early in the year due to cost of running wells Increased use of reservoirs for irrigation Increased installation of sprinklers (reduces return flows) Change in cropping patterns (more winter wheat, alfalfa, etc.)

Farmers Respond to Changes
Increased use of the South Platte River aquifer for retiming of depletions (recharge ponds, augmentation wells, recharge wells) Increased use of reusable effluent and reservoir releases for replacement Increased use of surface water rights in sprinkler irrigation systems Increased number of augmentation plans and SWSPs – subject to water court and State Engineer processes; more active in water court

Plan for Augmentation
A plan to replace out of priority depletions caused by a junior water right to senior water rights. The replacements are made with another source of water. Depletions must be replaced in time, place and amount in order protect senior water rights. The application for approval of a plan for augmentation in water court allows others the opportunity to express their concerns regarding its ability to protect their water rights.

The End
Questions?
The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time – Abraham Lincoln
Vallecito Creek Fourmile Creek

Presented by: Dick Wolfe, M.S., P.E. Assistant State Engineer
(303) 866-3581 ext. 8241 dick.wolfe@state.co.us www.water.state.co.us

Possible Issues for Consideration by the Task Force
More flexible wintertime administration of reservoir calls by the State and Division Engineers; aggregate replacement of winter depletions; Forgiveness of post-pumping depletion “debt” associated with some period of past well use; Grandfather wells prior to a certain date (e.g., “1969 Act”); Revisit with Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and other affected stakeholders the use of Colorado-Big Thompson Project water as a permanent augmentation source (currently prohibited by policy adopted by Northern Board of Directors);

Possible Issues for Consideration by the Task Force
Encourage and help the lower reaches of the South Platte River to develop water districts and/or water authorities so that the water users can be competitive in attempting to purchase augmentation water supplies; Investigate growing alternative crops including dry-land farming; Investigate potential expansions of historical use by senior surface water rights; Evaluate economic options such as subsidies, buyouts, or programs such as CREP and EQIP; and Other legislative options.