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May 13, 2014

Water Under and Over the Bridge!

Water, The most critical issue facing Coloradans today.

Looking for answers to questions surrounding the handling of Water in Colorado?
So are we! In the spirit of "your right to know," LAW USA shares the following letters.

Thus far, our research reveals an interwoven web of entities that are using an ingenious
formula of water court and engineering to manipulate Water right out from
under its owners. Hereon, all correspondence updates will be posted.
If you have any information that will remedy or enlighten, please email:

Charles and Ronita Sylvester
P.O. Box 155
LaSalle, CO 80645


May 12, 1014

Governor John Hickenlooper
136 State Capitol
Denver, Colorado 80204 May 12, 2014

Dear Governor Hickenlooper,

Regarding State’s verification of rising water levels:

The purpose of this letter is to demand you exercise your authority as governor to start the Gilcrest/LaSalle part of Dr. Reagan Waskom’s HB 1278 study. As you’re aware, HB 14-1332 was an attempt for authorization to start the pilot project. But the General Assembly caved to John Stulp, NRC and Junior Water Owners, and failed to pass HB 1332.

Completed December 31, 2013 Dr. Waskom recommended: “Two pilot projects should be authorized and funded by the General Assembly to allow the state engineer to track and administer high groundwater zones for a specified period of time to lower the water table at Sterling and Gilcrest/LaSalle while testing alternative management approaches.”

The General Assembly’s failure now leaves families that live along the upper portion of the South Platte looking at a bleak future of more flooding of their homes and fields.

Over 2 years ago, the town of Gilcrest showed Mr. Stulp the damage the non-historic high water table was causing their wastewater treatment plant. They have received zero attention or assistance, and subsequently have had to shut down their police department because maintenance projects, caused by these high levels of groundwater, including sink holes and an almost completely dysfunctional waste treatment plant, has eaten up their budget.

Since October 2012, State Engineers have kept monthly water level measurements in this area. These measurements prove the water level has risen dramatically, and continues to rise. It’s estimated that 40,000 Ag production acres could be lost due to this, and the man-made drying up of acreage.
Consider this as a realistic alert: Left unchecked, it is only a matter of time before raw sewage will contaminate water supplies in the area. This avoidable contamination could lead to crop damage and expose families to grave health risks.

Dr. Waskom clearly spelled out remedies for the non-historic high water. By blocking the Gilcrest/LaSalle families from implementing these remedies, you will allow their homes and fields to be irreversibly destroyed.

Governor, we need you to start the Gilcrest/LaSalle portion of Dr. Reagan Waskom’s pilot project today.
The critical matter to close with: Please do not forget to identify the party(s) responsible for the Highway 85 Bridge, and order them: “Dredge the South Platte river today!”
We’re counting on you Governor.

Thank you,

Chuck & Roni Sylvester
May 1, 2014

Governor John Hickenlooper
136 State Capitol
Denver, Colorado 80204

Dear Governor Hickenlooper,

Please consider this a brief re-cap of your visit to our farm on Thursday, April 17, 2014.

We appreciate your taking time from your cranky schedule to stop by. We were honored by the opportunity to show you our farm as a good example as to how agriculture, livestock and energy production with 3 sources of water can work together in harmony and thrive.

Sorry you didn’t get to see how beautiful our farm was pre-Friday the 13th of September flood. As you noticed, remnants of the flood’s destruction illustrates how devastating it was. It’ll likely take us years of work before we’ll get our 145 year old farm back to looking half-way decent.

Your Colorado State Patrol advance man and driver were exceptionally nice and professional. Please extend our thanks of appreciation.

We’re not too sure why John Swartout and Will Shafroth were with you since their areas are more in land restrictions (conservation easements), and not floods. So in that respect, please place us on record as prepared to firmly rebuke any government agency or government funded entity that approaches us with a conservation easement offer or hint of designation (includes parks, wetlands, endangered species, natural cultural districts and monuments).

Please find enclosed my “Solutions to Non-historic Flooding and Drying” – written July 2, 2012. Dr. Reagan Waskom’s study, HB 1278 completed December 31, 2013, essentially bore out- “recommend the pumping of all wells in the described fully appropriated part of the South Platte Valley.”

Within “Solutions…” you’ll also read the reasoning behind our request that you withdraw Colorado from the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (PRRIP). As I mentioned to you Thursday, “Governor Mead (WY) has expressed interest, and you two should just do it! It’s a simple 5 page agreement, signed by Governor’s Freudenthal, Heineman and Owens.” You were surprised to learn it’s only 5 pages (with a withdrawal clause that should be exercised).

It’s tragically unfortunate that no one in the decision making arena recognizes the lawful validity of our request, “Give Senior Water Owners the right to use their property and pump their Water.”

Implementation of “pumping” would have lowered the water table, giving the runoff opportunity to spread out and saturate, and thereby lessen the massively negative impact of the Friday the 13th flood.

Chuck wrote: Thank you for taking time to walk with me and review underneath the Highway 85 Bridge over the S. Platte River that connects LaSalle and Evans. As you could clearly see, because the Platte has not been dredged in my lifetime of 76 years, the bridge columns have collected enough sediment to raise the river bed dramatically. At some points there’s only a few feet between the top of the sediment and the bottom of the bridge.

The flood proved how lack of river maintenance created a backup that developed a lake with water depths at its highest at the bridge. Our home (a half mile west) basically sat in a lake, for the water mark on it was 55 inches; a quarter mile west water marks measured 40 inches, and an additional quarter mile west water marks were 30 inches.

Because our home sat in this lake, it destroyed everything in the basement, and made 17 inches of river ravage right through the first level.

Had the river been maintained, the Senior Water Owners allowed use of their property by pumping, and Colorado removed from the PRRIP, in my case alone I would not have accrued the hard costs of $200,000 in repairs to date. This doesn’t even begin to take into accounting our loss of time, records, files, furniture, computers, equipment, fences, corrals, buildings and more. And again, mine is just a singular example.
Thank God we have a home to move back in to. Many don’t. More importantly, we did not lose any pets, livestock or human life.

The cumulative, of avoidable losses along the upper part of the S. Platte basin, is immeasurable.
Governor, we pray you will place Water as your priority. Senior Water Owners just want to get back to work, and South Platte Basin residents should not be subjected to another avoidable Epic Water Event.
Here’s what we are certain you need to do posthaste to avoid repeat of this catastrophe:

a) Identify entity responsible for maintaining the river: Demand immediate dredging under the Hwy. 85 Bridge.
b) Issue Emergency Executive Order: Senior Water Owners immediately begin pumping.
c) Exercise the withdrawal clause in the PRRIP: Remove Colorado from PRRIP agreement.
Governor, by exercising your authority in this most productive, positive, pro-active manner, you will give Coloradans the promise of a brighter more certain future. We thank you in advance for this.
We look forward to your progress report, honoring our requests, no later than May 9, 2014.

Thank you,

Charles W. and Roni Bell Sylvester
Cc: Governor Dave Heineman (NE), Governor Matt Mead (WY), Senior Water Owners

Subject: FW: Hwy 85 bridge
Date: Thu, 8 May 2014 09:25:52 -0600
Dear Val,
Please relay to Governor Hickenlooper of my recent realization as highlighted in my note to Randy Bangert.
Am working on follow up letter to the Governor now.
Thank you Val,
Subject: Hwy 85 bridge
Date: Thu, 8 May 2014 09:21:54 -0600

Hi Randy,
The 2 following letters explain it all.

"Regarding the Friday the 13th..." was sent to all the WC Commissioners, CDOT and regional Army Corps. Not one person responded.

As I mentioned to you of my recent realization that because the South Platte falls outside the statute defines of Navigable - Army Corps doesn't have authority over it. Furthermore, it appears the EPA has castrated the Army Corps anyway, which explains why Army Corps guys couldn't answer my - "who's on first here - FEMA or Army Corps?" at a flood recovery meeting.

Am presently working on a follow up letter to the Governor.

The bridge is extremely visual -A photogs dream if you will. :-)

Thanks Randy,

Regarding the Friday the 13th of September 2014 Epic Water Event

There was more water in the Platte River than I’ve ever observed in my 76 years of living along its banks – about 1 mile west or upstream of Highway 85.

After the flood, I began analyzing the whole of the situation.

At my residence, the waterline on my home was about 55 inches; at my rental house a quarter mile west (upstream) the waterline reached about 40 inches deep.

In checking with a neighbor who lives west (upstream) about a half mile from me, he stated his waterline was 30 inches deep.

In wondering how this could be, I began investigating downstream towards Highway 85, and under the Hwy 85 rail and auto bridges over the Platte River (between Evans and LaSalle).

Close observation underneath the bridges, I counted approximately 19 sections, with each section approximately 55 feet long. Only 3 of the 19 sections showed a live channel of flowing water at about 150 feet wide. On either side of the bridges (east and west) the live channel widened to approximately 250 feet.
The remaining 16 sections are full of silt, gravel and recently removed shrubs and trees. This accumulation reaches anywhere from 12 to 15 feet and at some points is near the underbelly of the bridges.

In my estimation, the river approaching and directly under the bridge narrows so dramatically, its flow capacity is reduced to operating at about 25 to 30%.

This bridge system, backing up the river considerably, now serves more as a levee than a bridge. In other words, the debris accumulation has contributed to the development of a large lake on the west side of the bridges.

Had the water only been 30 inches at my home, it would not have reached the first floor and at its destructive height of 17 inches. This was the first time in over 110 years, that the Platte River physically “flowed right through my home,” causing over $100,000 in damages.

Had the river flowed through our farm at only 30 inches, it would not have gutted my 110 year old barn and other buildings, causing untold damage and loss of valuable materials.

So my question is: Whose responsibility is it to maintain the river under the bridge? CDOT? Army Corps of Engineers? Railroad company? Bureau of Reclamation? Who? If CDOT and the Railroad company maintains the physical structure of the bridges, why not under the bridges?

Or is this a matter of county? Haven’t maintenance moneys been collected for such maintenance? May we see the fiscal management records? I’d like to know how much has been collected and how those moneys are spent – since they’re supposed to be kept in a separate fund.

Which entity should be held accountable to at least some compensation to the upstream property owners who’ve lost so much? Thank you,


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