Coyote Gulch


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  Saturday, April 28, 2007

2007 Denver Municipal Election
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Don't miss Kenny Be's take on Tuesday's election in Westword.

Coyote Gulch is still accepting input for awarding Gulchies in each race in the May 1st election.

"denver 2007"
8:45:53 AM     

New wastewater plant for Fairplay?
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Customers of the Fairplay Sanitation District are going to see increased fees to pay for a new treatment plant and repairing the collection system, according to the Fairplay Flume. From the article, "The Fairplay Sanitation District can't immediately move forward with its plans for a new plant, even though the district has cut its property tax increase from twenty mills to eight mills in anticipation of getting approval for a smaller wastewater treatment plant. In March, the district asked the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a 15-month extension to build a new wastewater treatment plant. The district received its second cease and desist order regarding violations of effluent limits into the Middle Fork of the South Platte River from the state in 2005. That order received an extension to September 2008 as the deadline to build a new plant. Now that it wants to build a smaller plant, the district may not be able to meet that deadline...

"[Trevor Messa, president of the sanitation district] said the district is now waiting for the state to issue Preliminary Effluent Limits designating the amount of ammonia and other compounds that can be discharged into the Middle Fork for a 300,000 gallon-per-day system. Last year, when the district submitted the 400,000 gallon capacity request for limits, it took four months to receive the Preliminary Effluent Limits document from the state. The 300,000 gallon capacity request was made in March. Messa said the district can't start the design of the smaller plant until it receives the effluent limits from the state. New limits will revise the state-issued discharge permit, and that will determine options for the design of the plant. District board member Marie Chisholm said some sanitation districts use options other than a lagoon system, such as holding tanks that must be cleaned of sludge periodically. They then dispose of the sludge or spread it on the ground. If the district continues using its lagoon system, the liner must be replaced, she added. Messa said it is unlikely that the engineering firm Burns and McDonnell will be able to design a system in time for construction to begin before next winter sets in, if the state takes four months to respond. Realistic estimates target construction starting in the summer of 2008 and completion in the summer of 2009...

"In addition to a new sewage plant, the district has discovered leaks in the collection pipes. In some places, old clay pipes have disintegrated and raw sewage is running into the ground. About 14,000 feet of the collection system have been video taped, leaving 19,000 feet more to be completed. The state public health department is also requiring collection system repairs as part of the cease and desist order...

"Messa said the district is re-bidding the cost of replacing/repairing the collection system. When put out for bids earlier this year, only one bid was received - for almost $600,000. The board decided to reject it as being too expensive...

"The district increased user fees after a rate study was completed last year. A single family residence saw an increase from $15 to $30 per month. Messa said that study did not address different types of users, so a new study is being completed for both water and sewer rates based on whether the user is residential, commercial or governmental. The Town of Fairplay supplies drinking water and is sharing the cost of that study. Messa said the new fees will be based on a different rate for each type of use, as is common in most sanitation districts. He gave an example that a business office with a couple of employees generates much less than a family residence or a government office with many employees and lots of daily visitors. Messa sees using both increased fees and increased property taxes as the only fair way to meet the debt of the district. He said if only taxes were used, commercial businesses would take the biggest hit and governments would pay nothing...

"In the past, he said, the district never put aside money for repairs or to expand the plant when that time came. New tap fees paid for operations instead of the district raising fees or taxes. Now the district plans to put part of any new tap fee into a capital fund, and it must raise fees to supplement the approved mill levy increase in light of needing to repair the collection system."

"colorado water"
8:17:08 AM     

Expanded Elkhead reservoir set to open
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The expanded Elkhead Reservoir opens next week. Here's a look at the reservoir's history from the Craig Daily Press. From the article, "The Craig Empire-Courier also reported the first drowning of a man at Elkhead Reservoir on July 7, 1976, when Lloyd Phillips of Olathe died while innertubing down the dam's spillway. The 22-year-old fell off his tube and was caught in the water at the bottom of the spillway, his body finally being recovered about 10 p.m. that evening. Fifteen Sheriff's Posse members responded to the accident, with Dave Edwards and Jim Meineke equipped with special diving equipment."

"colorado water"
7:59:12 AM     

Colorado River uranium tailings cleanup near Moab, Utah
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Here's an short article about the cleanup of uranium tailings along the Colorado River near Moab Utah from the Deseret Morning News. They write, "The Energy Department's latest timetable for cleaning up uranium tailings from a mill site in Moab is 'unacceptable,' Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, told Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman in a letter sent Friday. The Energy Department initially predicted cleanup of the Atlas uranium mill site would take seven to 10 years, but more recently has estimated a 21-year time frame to complete the task...

"Bodman told the House Energy and Commerce Committee in February that the tailings may not be removed until 2028, which shocked Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, who sits on the committee. Matheson also has sent a letter to Bodman about concerns that the agency is not acting fast enough on the issue. The project, as approved by Congress, is to move the 16 million tons of uranium mill tailings from a pile near the Colorado River, north of Moab, to a location near Grand Junction, Colo. James A. Rispoli, assistant secretary of energy for environmental management with the Department of Energy, told Bennett at a Senate hearing in March that he does not see the 2028 date as a delay. 'It's just a planning number that we had and that's the number we gave to the secretary to use based upon what we estimate,' Rispoli said in response to questions from Bennett. The department is in the process of picking a contractor to work on the site. But in his letter, Bennett asks that the selected company stick to the original seven-to-10-year plan laid out in the environmental impact statement. He also asks for a cost comparison of the original plan compared to a 21-year plan. 'Removing the tailings expeditiously is critical not only for my state but also for the more than 25 million downstream water users in the Colorado River basin,' Bennett wrote."

More Coyote Gulch coverage of the cleanup here.

"colorado water"
7:52:37 AM     

Funding for the Platte River Cooperative Agreement
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Colorado lawmakers are helping to move legislation through congress to fund the Platte River Cooperative Agreement, according to the Greeley Tribune "reg". From the article, "This week, the House and Senate held hearings to consider a bill that would tie up the last loose end of the agreement: securing the federal funding levels agreed upon by the states. Colorado Sens. Wayne Allard and Ken Salazar are co-sponsors of the Senate bill. On the House side, Colorado Rep. Mark Udall sponsored the identically worded House version. Udall spokesman Lawrence Pacheco said the agreement would 'make it possible for Colorado's water users to comply with the Endangered Species Act without having to seek multiple permits and without facing the threat of litigation.' The tri-state agreement allows the states to handle Endangered Species Act requirements for hundreds of water projects as a whole rather than piecemeal. The cost to Colorado is $24 million in cash and a portion of 80,000 acre-feet of water to be split by the states, which has an estimated value of $120 million. Allard said the legislation would 'help protect the water rights of farmers and ranchers while also shielding them from the heavy hammer of the Endangered Species Act.'[...]

"Three Coloradans testified at the House hearing Thursday: Ted Kowalski with the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Dan Luecke with the National Wildlife Federation and Alan Berryman of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. Dan Luecke credited the states, their water users and the environmental community for coming together to find a good solution to the tricky issue of water rights."

More Coyote Gulch coverage of the Platte River Cooperative Agreement here.

"colorado water"
7:40:18 AM     

Fountain Creek management
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The job of managing and improving Fountain Creek is daunting. Here's an update on the Fountain Creek Task Force from the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "In trying to direct the future of Fountain Creek, a task force is learning there may be few planning options that remedy what has happened in the past. A Fountain Creek Task Force committee looking at water quantity Friday went away with more questions than answers, stumbling over questions of the effectiveness of current measures and what can be done without jeopardizing water rights...

"Some at the meeting noted there have been 15 years of study of Fountain Creek leading up to the Fountain Creek Watershed Study by the Army Corps of Engineers. The portion of the study that will evaluate the technical feasibility of ways to control flooding, erosion and sedimentation is stalled for a lack of federal funding...

"Pueblo County Commissioner Jeff Chostner is heading an effort that may lead to an authority, following a meeting of the full vision task force in Pueblo last week. Several officials said an authority is the best way to implement the task force's vision. Another effort could help lead to the authority: The joint funding of $300,000 annually by Colorado Springs and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District for a full-time Fountain Creek coordinator. Others at the meeting said the years of study have been valuable and need to continue. 'Past practices have not been effective, but there's no record of changes that have been made since we started meeting back in 1993,' said Pueblo County Planning Director Kim Headley. 'We're on the right track. There's no doubt in my mind we're making progress.'[...]

"Engineers and planners from the City of Pueblo, Pueblo County, Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Fountain and Fort Carson shared their approaches to regulating development that could affect flood plains. At one end of the spectrum was the City of Pueblo, which bars new development inside a 'prudent line,' 100 feet wider than the 100-year flood plain. Pueblo requires developers to match existing drainage conditions to avoid increasing volume and peak flows from flooding. At the other end was El Paso County, which relies on suggestions for 'best management practices' and has not updated flood plain maps for many years. The county looks only at peak flows from flooding, not the volume of water. Drainage regulation is split between two departments. While Pueblo and Colorado Springs both have stormwater authorities, neither county is actively pursuing the possibility. Both cities coordinate with counties for development within basins. Even where effective regulations exist, they apply only to new development...

"A big stumbling block for the group is water rights, which will be considered at its next meeting in June. Members of the group are not sure about the relation of stormwater to water rights. Several wanted to see more water retained, reused or infused into the aquifer. Planners said natural flows should be matched, but could not identify a baseline other than present conditions for determining what that level should be. Avondale rancher Dan Henrichs reiterated his concerns several times about stopping flood flows that could satisfy junior water rights downstream. Gracely said water courts have closely scrutinized small differences in consumptive use in cases where agricultural rights were changed to municipal uses. He said stormwater could be even more contentious. 'We're swatting at gnats in water court, if more things like this are going on with stormwater in the watersheds,' Gracely said. The committee agreed to get experts to talk about how stormwater is linked to water rights at its next meeting."

More Coyote Gulch coverage of Fountain Creek issues here.

"colorado water"
7:30:05 AM     

William Gray: Research arguing that humans are causing global warming is 'mush'
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CSU researcher William Gray was firing up global warming skeptics this week, according to the Ocala Star-Banner. From the article, "Hurricane forecaster William Gray said Friday that global ocean currents, not human-produced carbon dioxide, are responsible for global warming, and the Earth may begin to cool on its own in five to 10 years. Gray, a Colorado State University researcher best known for his annual forecasts of hurricanes along the U.S. Atlantic coast, also said increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere won't produce more or stronger hurricanes. He said that during the past 40 years the number of major hurricanes making landfall on the U.S. Atlantic coast has declined compared with the previous 40 years, even though carbon dioxide levels have risen. Gray, speaking to a group of Republican state lawmakers, had harsh words for researchers and politicians who say man-made greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming...

"Gray complained that politics and research into global warming have created 'almost an industry' that has unfairly frightened the public and overwhelmed dissenting voices. He said research arguing that humans are causing global warming is 'mush' based on unreliable computer models that cannot possibly take into account the hundreds of factors that influence the weather. Gray said ocean circulation patterns are behind a decades-long warming cycle. He has argued previously that the strength of these patterns can affect how much cold water rises to the surface, which in turn affects how warm or cold the atmosphere is. He also disputed assertions that greenhouse gases could raise global temperatures as much as some scientists predict."

"2008 pres"
7:14:58 AM     

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e-mail John: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.