Ute tribe may be interested in Wolf Creek water storage

RANGELY | The Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District (RBWCD) Board of Directors met on Wednesday, March 27 at 6 p.m. In attendance were Alden Vanden Brink, Wade Cox, Tim Winkler, Vince Wilczek, Peggy Rector, Mike Morgan, David Carlson and Mathew Casto. There were no changes to the preliminary agenda or the consideration of minutes and actions taken from the regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 27 and both passed unanimously. Winkler moved to accept the consideration of current bills from the general fund for Feb. 16, 2019 through March 15, 2019. Vanden Brink said the District has not received their tax receipts check yet for the month of March which is typically a considerable amount.

During the public input section of the meeting 4-H leader Roxie Fromang reported to the board the intentions of Rangely’s Gone Fishing 4-H Sportfishing Club to hold a fundraising fishing derby on Saturday, June 29 within the boundaries of the RBWCD.

David Carlson and Mathew Casto presented information during the staff and advisory committee reports. Carlson told the board about power outage shut downs of the hydroelectric facility which occurred last month during power outages at Moon Lake Electric Association (MLEA). There was a short in a buried Moon Lake Electric power line service line and MLEA had to splice it to repair the power line.

Twelve new picnic tables have been purchased for public use, staff rebuilt pumps, attended to general maintenance of the hydroelectric plant, and they prepared and assisted a fish delivery of 1,200 12 inch rainbow trout. Vanden Brink commended his employees, saying he received a call from the Rifle Fish Hatchery about the RBWCD employees’ preparation and dedication to getting fish delivered safely into Kenney Reservoir. All the RBWCD staff were CPR trained and certified or recertified the previous week. The 2018 DSSMR has been completed for the annual operations. Carlson reported that staff will be making much needed repairs to barbecue grills located at Kenney Reservoir in the near future. Wilczek asked staff to take pictures of one of the RBWCD properties in preparation of them reacquiring it.

During the manager’s report Vanden Brink said an inspection will take place for the approach apron at the dam. It is an impartial inspection that is completed every five years to comply with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) has identified the Northwest Colorado Storage Project (Wolf Creek) as meeting the initial criteria for a CWCB loan, up to $100 million in funding. In August or September the draft of the pre-permitting study will be completed. During a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conference call the BLM said they would like the District to file for a right-of-way grant. Vanden Brink said, “project staff have made this a priority” and he believes they will hit their deadline goals. Staff will be meeting with the Town of Rangely in the next week or two.

During a status conference call, the Water Court judge wants to know where the District is at with water rights. There will be a Recovery Program Committee follow up meeting and Vanden Brink reported he will likely be traveling to meet with the Management Committee at the end of April for their interest in water storage. The board received a letter from the Ute Tribe about tribal water rights. The tribe may have some interest in water storage at Wolf Creek and they will be invited to the next public meeting. The Colorado River Water Conservation District (CRWCD) would like to do a presentation on the state of the White River, possibly in May. CRWCD is reviewing a potential ballot issue but details about that have not been released. Vanden Brink stated, “They have a new manager and the CRWCD is taking a more active interest in their constituents.” Vanden Brink presented board members with paperwork for a newly acquired water right for the Flat Tops Project. Saturday, July 13 is the date for the Rangely, Colo., Mountain Splash-In at Kenney Reservoir, where seaplanes will land for the education and entertainment of the public.

There were no committee reports, old business or new business. Winkler and Rector moved and seconded to transfer funds between the Hydroelectric Fund and General Fund from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28 in the amount of $63,221.86. The motion passed unanimously. There was no need for an executive session and the meeting was adjourned at 6:57 p.m. The next Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 24 at 6 p.m.

By Roxie Fromang | Special to the Herald Times