Town of Grand Lake weighs in against Windy Gap Firming Project | SkyHiNews.com

Town of Grand Lake weighs in against Windy Gap Firming Project

Tonya Bina
tbina@grandcountynews.com
Grand County, Colorado

The health of Grand Lake and possible financial setbacks that could result from deterioration of the lake’s water quality were listed among main reasons why the Northern Colorado Conservancy District municipal subdistrict should think thrice about diverting more river water out of Grand County, according to the Town of Grand Lake.

Taking a stand on the draft environmental impact statement of the proposed Windy Gap Firming Project in a three-page letter to Will Tully of the Bureau of Reclamation, Grand Lake officials pointed out that no consideration was given in the draft EIS to tourist spending and impacts on the tourism industry from increased water diversions through Grand Lake.

Grand Lake also touched on the degradation of Colorado’s largest natural lake since the start of Colorado Big-Thompson Project pumping, listing decreased clarity, blue-green algae and microcystin toxin scares, and the latest this last summer, the invasion of zebra and quagga mussels.

With an overhaul of the town’s storm sewer filtration system, a new town street sweeper for decreased sediment runoff and beach drainage improvements, the town estimates its 469 residents are bearing the burden of $625 each in taxes “towards Grand Lake quality in a matter of two years.”

Grand Lake’s letter to the Bureau submits that if the Bureau, thereby Northern Water, were to consider an alternative to pumping through Grand Lake by bypassing the lake altogether with a new piping system at a 2006 engineering cost-estimate of $14 million to $60 million (bypassing either Grand Lake only or Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake), Colorado Big-Thompson water users might incur a per capita cost of $19 to $80 each, “compared to the $625 that each Grand Lake resident will pay in the years of 2008-2009.”

“It seems like a very fair compromise to make since it would address both past transgressions and the proposal at hand,” Grand Lake’s letter states. The letter is signed by Mayor Judy Burke.

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Grand Lake also calls for more water conservation measures by Front Range communities and utilities as well as replacement of aged infrastructure that may be creating water losses.

Gray water reuse, xeriscaping, regulation against Kentucky bluegrass and thirsty non-native vegetation and encouragement of citizen conservation also did not go without mention.

“Taking more water out of the Colorado River basin prior to exhausting these types of measures is unfair to Grand County,” Grand Lake’s response to the EIS continues.

“There are many mitigation measures that can and should be considered prior to any approvals, and the participants in this project should be required to make some sacrifices as all sacrifice thus far has been borne solely by the citizens of Grand County.”

The Windy Gap comment period is winding down ” Grand County citizens have until Dec. 29 to respond to the draft environmental impact document.

2009 Budget adopted

Grand Lake adopted its $3.4 million budget on Monday.

In 2009, the general fund accounts for $2.56 million; the water enterprise fund amounts to $475,776; the marina enterprise fund is listed at $284,064; and the debt service fund is $87,750.

A late update to the budget was the addition of a full-time code enforcement officer in 2009, a position available to the existing part-time code enforcer Dan Korkowski. The board has accepted the new full-time position with benefits for a one-year trial period, reserving the ability to see how town finances shake-out beyond 2009, according to Town Manager Shane Hale. The position not only entails code enforcement but serves to assist all departments of the town, he said.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

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