BRC's Fill Lake Powell Project

JFRCalifornia

Escalante-Class Member
From a cost-benefit standpoint, consider this:

Raising the dam at Gross Reservoir by 131 feet would net an additional 77,000 AF of storage capacity.

The top 131 feet of Glen Canyon Dam allows for a storage capacity of 15.4 maf. That's 15,400,000 AF. That's about 200 times more storage capacity for 131 feet of dam height... Thus, raising a dam in front of a small reservoir by 131 feet to create 77,000 AF of water potential (the water still actually has to exist to use it) seems like an inefficient way to go about solving the water supply problem, since it does not actually create a new water supply in the system.

Then consider this:

The population of Washington County (where St. George is) was about 180,000 in 2020. Per capita water use there is about 300 gpd (gallons per person per day). That is an extraordinarily high number. Many western cities use less than half that amount per capita. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix--all of them are well under 150 gpd each. So if Washington County could implement water conservation measures to cut per capita use in half to be in line with those other cities (start with the green lawns, but that's just the low hanging fruit), here's the result: you'd save about 30,000 AF per year!! And if that county doubles in population one day (as it plans to do), the savings at that point would be 60,000 AF compared to what would have otherwise happened.

And that's just in the St. George area.

In other words, applying better water conservation principles (which costs very little) in places that have not done so is an infinitely more effective (and cheaper) way of "finding" new water than raising dam heights...
 
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nzaugg

Well-Known Member
There is a ton of agriculture going on in the St. George area that is accounted for in that 300 gpcap figure. There are pecan orchards, alfalfa fields, horse pasture, etc. that are not present in the Las Vegas/Phoenix markets. There is still a lot of flood irrigation going on in those fields as well. There is a lot of water savings possible in that area and the water buffalo down there was previously unwilling to push the pain onto the users because the ag users own the water rights and are unwilling to do anything that would jeopardize their standing. There needs to be a general cleanup of water rights in the state, which they are doing basin by basin, county by county. Wasteful practices should not be grandfathered into place and cause the rest of the users to suffer because those with primacy are unwilling to use anything less than their superior shares.
 

Paladin

Well-Known Member
This is a really bad idea...but will probably happen. Not only are they proposing to take groundwater from the diminishing SLV, they are proposing to build a canal form Crestone to Douglas County. Yes, you read that correctly. BTW, I live in Montrose.

 

Paladin

Well-Known Member
This is a really bad idea...but will probably happen. Not only are they proposing to take groundwater from the diminishing SLV, they are proposing to build a canal form Crestone to Douglas County. Yes, you read that correctly. BTW, I live in Montrose.

PLEASE READ and digest this story!!

Now take a look at this one:

Municipal grifters continue to sneak around and purchase water rights and transfer them to high growth, population areas. The most insidious is the purchase of ground water. The hydrological engineers in the SLV have declared this an exceedingly dangerous move, but Douglas county is moving forward. There is not only the risk of significantly dropping the SLV aquafer but running out of the water they actually purchased.

Talk about stepping on your own shwantzz!!!!
 

flowerbug

Well-Known Member
Now take a look at this one:

Municipal grifters continue to sneak around and purchase water rights and transfer them to high growth, population areas. The most insidious is the purchase of ground water. The hydrological engineers in the SLV have declared this an exceedingly dangerous move, but Douglas county is moving forward. There is not only the risk of significantly dropping the SLV aquafer but running out of the water they actually purchased.

Talk about stepping on your own shwantzz!!!!

the article reads just fine to me. if you have too many people pumping too much water something has to stop that from continuing or everyone is going to run out. often what happens is that those who can't afford deeper wells are screwed over - then after that the people put in the deeper wells screw each other over and then they are forced to change their ways if they plan on continuing to do whatever it is they're doing, but they sure need to do it smarter.

the sooner you stop the unsustainable water use then you can have the most positive effects for the most people. you don't stop unsustainable water use by pretending it isn't happening or complaining about someone else doing common sense things.

buying south Rio Grande water rights out and fallowing land means more water for the river, but remember that the Rio Grande water shed does transfer some water from the Colorado rivershed. if you prop up the one it will help the other and all of those who depend upon those rivers.
 

scubatim

Well-Known Member
the article reads just fine to me. if you have too many people pumping too much water something has to stop that from continuing or everyone is going to run out. often what happens is that those who can't afford deeper wells are screwed over - then after that the people put in the deeper wells screw each other over and then they are forced to change their ways if they plan on continuing to do whatever it is they're doing, but they sure need to do it smarter.

the sooner you stop the unsustainable water use then you can have the most positive effects for the most people. you don't stop unsustainable water use by pretending it isn't happening or complaining about someone else doing common sense things.

buying south Rio Grande water rights out and fallowing land means more water for the river, but remember that the Rio Grande water shed does transfer some water from the Colorado rivershed. if you prop up the one it will help the other and all of those who depend upon those rivers.
Not to be contrarian - but the RG basin is not one simple aquifer. The shallow unconfined sand and gravel is 100 - 150 feet deep. It is directly connected and recharged by the RG and canals/laterals which divert for irrigation. These wells/center pivots are very dependent on runoff each year for the water. The Conejos does the same thing in the south of the basin and has very senior rights. These wells have water rights to do just what they do - maximize the agriculture. Yes there are some water rights requiring flows to New Mexico- but are largely controlled by the shallow wells. The whole system is VERY controlled by the State Engineer - and many times "calls" on the newer wells shut them down.
There is a "closed Basin in east- central SLV - where there is no return flow back to the river. The BOR went in 50+years ago and drilled wells to "harvest" this water. They established many ponds and wetlands and divert much of the water to the RG. All this tributary water is totally dependent on annual recharge.

The KICKER is that below the "blue clay" lies over 1500 - 2500 feet of saturated sand, gravel and clay beds. In the early1900's wells were drilled to several hundred feet and produced flowing artesian water. The deeper the higher pressure and flows (some 4-500 gpm). These produced somewhat poorer water - but sustained agricultural crops for decades - even flowing in the winter - creating fantastic marshes, ponds and other water fowl habitat. They were shut in in the 80's due to huge filings by several water buffalos - and were deemed to have a major delayed draw on the senior rights in the Conejos many miles south. (Hence the BOR closed basin project to replace the wetlands habitat).

So - there is a vast amount of stored water (Several million acre feet) which COULD be accessed. Local land barons and speculators he been in court several times in the last 25 years trying to access the deeper water, divert it to the front range and try to mitigate impacts with cash. (IMHO this deeper water - now off limits by a local/federal cooperative COULD also benefit/supplement the farmers in years when the RG basin doesn't have the river flows to sustain the local agriculture).

Unuff said - just a little info on a very long standing - and complex - hydrogeologic situation. Not a simple "turn off the wells and let nature do it's thing" thing.
JMFYI
 

Paladin

Well-Known Member
Not sure about all of this but here is a recent example additional stake holders asking to be heard. This applies to the Rio Grande watershed.


Although these Pueblos are on the other side of the Continental Divide from us Colo river rats, their move is emblematic as to how goosey everyone (and rightfully so) is getting about the scarcity of water during this mega-drought. They are junking their own BIA for specific representation.
A good move, in my view.
 

Paladin

Well-Known Member
Good Sat morning Gang. A few good tidbits to share with you.

Fill Lake Powell is moving ahead and gaining momentum. Our Policy Director, Simone has attended a number of "water manager" meetings and will attend all relevant meetings available. She reports our acceptance as a stakeholder from most of these groups and their willingness to hear our views on the management of Colorado River water.

Home

Check out Blue Ribbon Coalition's webpage and look for our Fill Lake Powell leg. Lots of new stuff including articulated and written policy of what we are trying to accomplish. Also notice our support of the Desalination Bill sponsored by Rep. Mace from South Carolina.


This is the type of policy we support to conserve water and make it more available for all of us. This is a good idea and I ask that you read the article on BRC's website and lend your support.

There is also a spot for you to sign a petition to support our movement. This petition is in cooperation with Zach at Powellhedz. Check it out.


We are also taking a hard look at the arbitrary NPS decision to shut down all commercial activity at Blue Mesa Reservoir. While not losing our focus on Lake Powell, this is another emblematic move that has scuttled a beautiful lake and the people involved with that lake that make a living providing goods and services to recreationists. Again, myopic. Pure and utter BS.
 

Paladin

Well-Known Member
More to chew on. Just came across this on Coyote Gulch Blog.


Goodanews and Badanews. This is a good article and well presented. Some of it is on point, some of it not. But at least it is getting the guts of the current problem out into the sunlight.
 

Paladin

Well-Known Member

Paladin

Well-Known Member
Good idea, crude technology.
Wrong location, bad purpose.
Shifty people, horrible politics.


Please note this idea has been around for ages and has proved effective but can have long lasting implications that are not good. It displaces about 50 rural homes, is run by people who would snuff your entire way of life in an instant (see Craig, Hayden and Milner, not to mention SBS) and is fostered by typical bad environmental policy.
Oh, by the way, they plan on sniping a cool 7000 AFt of water out of the Gunny and about 700 AFt annually to sustain it.
The description of this being cheap and sustainable and that Xel's model (some of the cleanest in the nation) coal fired plants are too expensive to operate is riseable.
 

Colorado Expat

Well-Known Member
Good idea, crude technology.
Wrong location, bad purpose.
Shifty people, horrible politics.


Please note this idea has been around for ages and has proved effective but can have long lasting implications that are not good. It displaces about 50 rural homes, is run by people who would snuff your entire way of life in an instant (see Craig, Hayden and Milner, not to mention SBS) and is fostered by typical bad environmental policy.
Oh, by the way, they plan on sniping a cool 7000 AFt of water out of the Gunny and about 700 AFt annually to sustain it.
The description of this being cheap and sustainable and that Xel's model (some of the cleanest in the nation) coal fired plants are too expensive to operate is riseable.
Unless you figure out some way to suspend the First Law of Thermodynamics, any pumped storage project will actually consume more energy than it generates, and thus represent a technical loss to the grid. Just another attempt to sell folks on the concept of a perpetual motion machine.
 

Paladin

Well-Known Member
Unless you figure out some way to suspend the First Law of Thermodynamics, any pumped storage project will actually consume more energy than it generates, and thus represent a technical loss to the grid. Just another attempt to sell folks on the concept of a perpetual motion machine.
Yep, you are right. But it’s better than hamsters in a squirrel cage. Newton would have a good laugh.

Here’s how this has been explained to me. On a tit-for-tat basis it is much more expensive to raise water to a level to produce a hydrological drop significant enough to generate power. Much more, prohibitively more. But your average energy company executive and/or environmentalist will tell you that the cost of solar power is zero, because the sun gives it to us that way, and will never charge us any fees. Thus, they don’t care how much solar energy they use (waste) because it’s free and it’s never ending.

The progenitors of this concept will erect the massive amount of infrastructure in the form of solar panels, batteries, grid storage, water storage and pumps, whatever and amortize it over a substantial period of time. Usually, much more than its average life. So… the net cost is the average, annual amortized value of the infrastructure and the maintenance of whatever turbines are in place to generate the juice from falling water.

I am told that, this will be the major replacement for Xcel energy production after they junk their coal-fired plants.

To me, one of the problems of this type of power generation is that the lawyers and politicians in bed with companies like Xcel can placate the NINBY’s in their districts by locating these facilities in innocent, rural areas and using the already existing power line infrastructure from their vanishing coal plants to bring power back into urban areas. Same oh, same oh.

I would take a harder look at something like this if it were located in the middle of Lakewood, maybe Denver or Arvada.
 
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Colorado Expat

Well-Known Member
Yep, you are right. But it’s better than hamsters in a squirrel cage. Newton would have a good laugh.

Here’s how this has been explained to me. On a tit-for-tat basis it is much more expensive to raise water to a level to produce a hydrological drop significant enough to generate power. Much more, prohibitively more. But your average energy company executive and/or environmentalist will tell you that the cost of solar power is zero, because the sun gives it to us that way, and will never charge us any fees. Thus, they don’t care how much solar energy they use (waste) because it’s free and it’s never ending.

The progenitors of this concept will erect the massive amount of infrastructure in the form of solar panels, batteries, grid storage, water storage and pumps, whatever and amortize it over a substantial period of time. Usually, much more than its average life. So… the net cost is the average, annual amortized value of the infrastructure and the maintenance of whatever turbines are in place to generate the juice from falling water.

I am told that, this will be the major replacement for Xcel energy production after they junk their coal-fired plants.

To me, one of the problems of this type of power generation is that the lawyers and politicians in bed with companies like Xcel can placate the NINBY’s in their districts by locating these facilities in innocent, rural areas and using the already existing power line infrastructure from their vanishing coal plants to bring power back into urban areas. Same oh, same oh.

I would take a harder look at something like this if it were located in the middle of Lakewood, maybe Denver or Arvada.
Pumped storage schemes are basically just a method of providing bridging kilowatts at night when the solar arrays go dormant and the winds settle down. If any sort of reasonable battery storage technology is developed in the future, it will reduce the necessity for workarounds like this. One potential element of such new generation batteries is vanadium, of which there is still quite a bit available in the old uranium mines of the West End. If this technology pans out, then that quiet and generally forgotten corner of the state may get busier than I would prefer over the coming decades, and those operations will need some of the water that currently heads for Lake Powell.
 

Jon R

Active Member
I appreciate the work and BRC. Be sure to include Lake Mead in your assumptions.... Most water managers would prefer to keep the upstream empoundments (more) full, but you need to consider Lake Mead power generation, water supply, and recreation in any "scenarios" that you dream up. Dream is the right word. It all comes down to dreaming about epic snowpack and inflow. Source water protection is a critical management issue for ALL water utilities. I would include speaking with the big ones in your backgrounding.
 

Paladin

Well-Known Member
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