Coyote Gulch


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  Monday, May 14, 2007

Back in blogging mode
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We made it back from our 5 day backpack trip in good shape. Thanks to the Gulch kids for allowing us to carry the lightest backpack (geezer pack?) that we've ever taken into the backcountry.

There had been a lot of recent flooding in all the canyons where we travelled. It was cool to see that some of the large stands of Tamarisk at the confluence of Coyote Gulch and the Escalante River had been ripped out by the river. There was considerable erosion there but quite a bit of new sediments deposited in Coyote Gulch. Willows were looking to get re-established. The flood effects were something we have not seen before in many trips to that country. Our theory is that they occurred during last summer's monsoon season.

7:17:37 PM     

? for President?

New West: "Maybe all that hob-nobbery with Hollywood is paying off: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's first TV ads are winning three and four stars from everyone from the Albuquerque Journal's Jim Belshaw to bloggers. Belshaw, whose column was reprinted on, notes that comedy is pretty hard for a politician, but Richardson's ads are pretty darn funny. The ads are only playing locally in Iowa and New Hampshire. And YouTube, of course." Of course.

Andrew Sullivan: "Here's a list of Ron Paul's policy stances. He's a pro-life libertarian who voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment. He's for legalizing marijuana. And he got 60 percent of the vote in Texas.

"2008 pres"
6:51:19 PM     

War on terror

TalkingPointsMemo: "New poll finds 63% oppose military action against Iran."

"2008 pres"
6:43:07 PM     


TalkLeft: "Justice Department insiders use the term 'freefall' to describe the agency's present state. Falling today is Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty."

Captain's Quarters: "It looks as though the going has gotten hotter over at Justice. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty has announced to aides that he will resign his post. This will put the Bush administration on a path with the Senate Judiciary Committee for a new confirmation hearing, which the White House had tried to avoid."

"2008 pres"
6:41:44 PM     

? for Denver City Council District 7

Check out Denver Politics Neighborhood analysis, Council District 7.

"denver 2007"
6:38:22 PM     

State of the [Colorado] River Meetings
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From email from the Colorado River Water Conservation District (Martha Moore): "The Colorado River District to host State of the River Meetings:

"Tues. May 15th, 7PM - Grand County State of the River Meeting, Granby Town Hall.

"Highlights: Hear from Bureau of Reclamation officials on the operations of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project (C-BT) and from the C-BT's Front Range beneficiary, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District; Learn about the Windy Gap Project and plans to firm up the project's water yield; Hear Denver Water officials discuss its Moffat Tunnel Project and plans to firm up that project's yield; Hear officials from the State Engineer's Office talk about water administrative issues in Grand County; Hear Grand County officials address the goals behind a proposed streamflow management plan for the Colorado River; Receive updates on the trout fishery in Grand County.

"For more information: e-mail or call (970) 945-8522 x 236.

"Wed., May 16, 7PM Summit County State of the River Meeting, Summit County Senior and Community Center, County Commons, Frisco.

"Highlights: Learn how current snowpack conditions will affect the Colorado and Blue River systems; Hear a report from Colorado Commissioner to the Colorado River Commission Scott Balcomb on the interstate negotiations regarding the overall allocation among the seven states in the Colorado River Basin; Hear the latest on climate change from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists; View a Google Earth flyover of the river basins; In addition, Bureau of Reclamation and Denver Water officials, who manage Green Mountain and Dillon Reservoirs, respectively, will provide updates on current reservoir operations.

"For more information: e-mail or call (970) 945-8522 x 236."

10:17:43 AM     

Antero Reservoir to open July 17th
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Antero Reservoir is set to re-open on July 17th, according to the Denver Post. They write, "After nearly five years of waiting, Front Range anglers again will be able to wet a line in Antero Reservoir. In a joint announcement, the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Denver Water declared that reopening date for the impoundment south of Fairplay, which had been drained and closed since August 2002."

"colorado water"
9:40:44 AM     

New wastewater plant for Poncha Springs?
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Poncha Springs may build a new wastewater treatment plant if an annexation goes through, according to the Mountain Mail. From the article, "Poncha Springs officials hope annexing the Friend Ranch development creates wastewater independence for the town. As part of negotiations with developers of Friend Ranch - a proposed 580-unit golf course neighborhood less than 2 miles west of current town limits - Poncha Springs personnel are studying the possibility of building a stand-alone wastewater treatment plant. The plant would end the long-standing Poncha Springs wastewater relationship with Salida which treats Poncha sewage at its plant via a 5-mile pipeline. The Friend Ranch wastewater issue came to light last week when Salida Administrator Steve Golnar listed issues the city has with serving the Friend Ranch development. Salida authorities are beginning a capacity audit of the city wastewater plant, and are unsure if they are comfortable taking on Friend Ranch wastewater. Poncha Springs currently has a contract for 1,130 equivalent residential units at the Salida wastewater plant. The town uses 480 EQRs, Poncha administrator Pat Alderton said. Friend Ranch is expected to need 550 EQRs."

"colorado water"
9:26:42 AM     

RICD for Silverthorne?
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From the Summit Daily News "reg", "With a mid-August water court date looming, Silverthorne and Denver Water are trying to work out their differences on the town's application for a recreational water right on the Blue River. Silverthorne wants to ensure adequate flows for rafting during the three big holiday weekends, as well as summer-long flows for a whitewater kayak park. 'What we're trying to do is make sure our ability to store and maintain water in Dillon Reservoir is not affected,' said Bill Bates a Denver Water resource engineers. 'We're trying to work out a consent decree without a trial,' said Silverthorne town manager Kevin Batchelder. The town tried to design its application to minimize impacts to existing water rights. he explained. Denver Water's rights are senior in any case, and the town could only exercise its recreational flow rights in years when plenty of water is available...

"At issue are so-called recreational in-channel diversions (RICDs), a relatively new form of water right used by towns and other entities to ensure adequate flows for whitewater kayak parks. The State Legislature passed a 2006 law aimed at clearly defining recreational flows, and the Colorado Water Conservation Board has been trying to establish a framework to administer the law. Still, some of the applications have been controversial, based on their potential to affect future development. RICD critics have said, for example, that Golden's recreational water right could limit upstream towns like Idaho Springs from making future claims for domestic water. Denver Water, which has filed a formal objection to the Silverthorne's application, is concerned that the recreational water right could affect the timing if its releases downstream into the Blue River and to Green Mountain Reservoir. At issue is whether the water released from storage is part of the 'natural flow' that's available for the the town's claim, Bates said. A new interim operational policy for Green Mountain Reservoir could require increased releases from Dillon Reservoir, Bates explained. Denver Water may want to hold more water in Dillon to meet those requirements, he said."

"colorado water"
9:14:45 AM     

Wilderness protection for Rocky Mountain National Park?
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Colorado's congressional delegation has reached an agreement on language for wilderness protection for Rocky Mountain National Park, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article, "After three decades and much infighting among Colorado's congressional delegation, Rocky Mountain National Park now seems poised to gain an official designation as a wilderness area. Compromise on the Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Bill was announced Monday by Colorado's two U.S. senators, Democrat Ken Salazar and Republican Wayne Allard, and two of the state's U.S. representatives, Republican Marilyn Musgrave and Democrat Mark Udall. None of the elected officials' offices would release additional information on the bill's language, deferring comment until Monday's formal announcement in the park. The designation would guarantee preservation of scenic and historic wilderness, unique wildlife as well as the scientific, educational and recreational resources the park offers...

"The compromise comes in the wake of bitter disagreement last year that pitted Musgrave and Allard against Salazar and Udall. The dispute centered on whether to reference the Wilderness Act in the legislation, as well as liability protections for owners of an irrigation ditch. Udall and Salazar said inclusion of Wilderness Act language in the bill was vital to ensure full protection to the park; Allard and Musgrave said they didn't want to automatically subject the park to future amendments to the Wilderness Act. Udall and Salazar introduced a bill early in 2006 and were surprised when Musgrave and Allard offered an alternative several months later. The Republicans and Democrats traded pointed barbs over the competing bills. At the time, Musgrave and Allard said the Udall-Salazar bill didn't do enough to protect liability of the Grand Ditch owners, an irrigation pipeline that carries water to 50,000 acres of farmland in Northern Colorado. The Grand Ditch, owned by Fort Collins-based Water Supply and Storage Co., was built before the national park was created. Musgrave and Allard's bill carried protection for Grand Ditch owners as well as provisions that cleared the way for prospecting and other mineral research. Grand Ditch owners are currently in court with the park regarding damage that occurred when the canal wall breached three years ago and flooded areas of the park. If a judge decides the Grand Ditch owners are responsible for the clean-up costs, it could force a sale of the company and cause some farmers who rely on the late summer water to close shop, ditch officials said."

More coverage from the Rocky Mountain News. They write, "A long-running effort to designate Rocky Mountain National Park as a wilderness area leaped forward Monday when Colorado's congressional delegation reported it had reached a compromise on the matter. A statement issued jointly by four members of the delegation - two Republicans and two Democrats - promised all the details at a news conference next Monday [today] at a park campground...

"One significant matter that would have to be part of a compromise involves the privately owned Grand River Ditch that flows through the park, Jones said. Issues of maintenance access to the ditch and resolving liability for its problems - such as the blowout in 2003 that sent a large flow of sediment pouring into the park - have been the subject of dispute among lawmakers. Last year, federal authorities sued the Water Supply and Storage Co. for the damage caused by the blowout, which allegedly washed out part of a mountainside. Other disputes over the years include concern that the park would claim additional water rights with the wilderness designation - an unfounded worry, Patterson said. She said the park has obtained its rights through the state water court system and wouldn't be seeking more."

"colorado water"
8:55:15 AM     

Federal water grab on the Gunnison?
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From, "First he butted in. Then he butted out. Now he's butted back in again. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers changed his mind yet again last week when he and his office decided to re-file objections they had earlier withdrawn to a controversial state water-rights agreement. That withdrawal was praised as likely to assist the progress of stalled negotiations between Washington, D.C. and the users, LegalNewsLine recently reported. The re-filing, however, has been roundly condemned as likely to prolong the dispute. Local Republican state Senator Josh Penry of Fruita called Suthers' latest intervention 'troubling.'"

More coverage from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. They write, "Monday's filing by the state makes it more difficult for the state to claim it has withdrawn its objections and to resolve the dispute, said Chris Treese, external affairs officer for the Colorado River Water Conservation District. Department of Natural Resources Director Harris Sherman said at the hearing he had not read the state's filing. Alexandra Davis, the newly appointed Colorado Department of Natural Resources Assistant Director for Water, said the motion is a response to environmental groups who urged the water court to affirm some details in stipulations that could become part of a new Black Canyon agreement. The stipulations are agreements between the federal government and many Gunnison Basin water users preventing the national park's water needs from taking precedence over those of some Gunnison Basin water users whose water rights are junior to those of Black Canyon National Park. In other words, should the stipulations be approved, 'virtually everything in the Gunnison Basin' would benefit because their water needs would come before those of the park, Spann said.The state, however, says in the motion it filed Monday it objects to the stipulations in part because they could create a 'selective subordination' of water rights in the Gunnison Basin, meaning some water rights junior to the park would be allowed to divert from the basin, while others would be unable to do so. Monday's motion irked Sen. Josh Penry, R-Fruita, who called the state's litigation 'troubling.' 'These types of conflicts are going to continue as long as the litigation proceeds, which only underlines the need to get to a settlement,' Penry said. Davis said the state may begin pursuing a 'general subordination' approach to solving the dispute. That would mean the water needs of everyone in the Gunnison Basin whose water rights date from between 1933 and 1957 would come before those of the national park, Davis said.

"colorado water"
8:49:23 AM     

Peru Creek cleanup
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It looks like good news up in Summit County. Money has been made available from the EPA for the cleanup of Peru Creek, according to the Summit Daily News "reg". From the article, "A hefty federal grant could help speed a long-sought cleanup of Peru Creek with construction of a passive water treatment plant to remove toxic heavy metals. 'We should be able to get something built in 2008 or 2009,' said Lane Wyatt, a water quality expert with the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is putting up $250,000 for doing the final studies and toward the design of a treatment system that would remove zinc, cadmium, lead and copper leaching from the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine into Peru Creek and downstream to the Snake River...

"Russell, who signed on with Trout Unlimited last year specifically to tackle Peru Creek pollution, said the ultimate goal is to improve water quality in the Snake River to the point that it could sustain a healthy fishery downstream. Peru Creek itself will likely always be too polluted for fish, due to high natural levels of metals in the rocks of the valley. But treating the acid mine drainage from the Pennsylvania Mine could help. The site has been pinpointed as the biggest single source of heavy metals in the drainage. Concentrations of the metals are so high that the Snake has long been listed as an impaired watershed by the EPA. Downstream of the confluence with Peru Creek, the water is toxic to trout. One recent experiment involved putting caged trout in the water at different points along the Snake. Many of them died within a few days or weeks, depending on the exact location...

"A detailed discussion of Peru Creek cleanup plans is set for a May 31 meeting of the Snake River Task Force. For more information, visit the task force website at"

"colorado water"
8:39:23 AM     

Ritter appointments and water policy
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Governor Ritter is under the sharp gaze of the western slope with regard to his appointments and how they will shape water issues in his administration, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article, "Several top-level vacancies in the Colorado Department of Natural Resources could give Gov. Bill Ritter a chance to put an immediate mark on water issues. Many Western Slope legislators and organizations would like to see the new governor, a Democrat, set a decidedly different tone than that of his Republican predecessor. At stake, to some degree, is the ability of Front Range transmountain diverters to maintain their rights to water that otherwise flows west. Ritter, who took office in January, will appoint the replacements to State Engineer Hal Simpson, Colorado Division of Wildlife Director Bruce McCloskey and possibly a new executive for the Colorado Water Conservation Board. There has been no change in the status of water-conservation board head Rod Kuharich, said Harris Sherman, who oversees the Department of Natural Resources. Kuharich has been a lightning rod for Western Slope dissatisfaction on water issues, with officials including state Sen. Josh Penry, R-Fruita, calling for his ouster...

"The [Upper Gunnison River Water Conservation District] has been embroiled in a running battle this spring with the state Department of Natural Resources, which filed, withdrew and then filed objections anew to stipulations intended to protect the district's farmers and ranchers as the state water court considers the water right for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Western Slope officials have pointed the finger of blame for the filings at Kuharich. One of them, state Penry called on Ritter to oust Kuharich. Representatives of the Division of Wildlife and State Engineer's Office also were involved in the original decision to ask the Attorney General's Office to file the objections, but state Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, said Kuharich was seen to be driving the issue."

"colorado water"
8:28:39 AM     

Fountain Creek floods
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Fountain Creek flooded last week, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. They write, "It took nearly 24 hours, 58 pieces of equipment, 70 people and 5,300 tons of rock and stones to repair a breach in an abandoned railroad embankment that caused the Fountain Creek to flood three low-lying areas near the Pueblo Mall Monday. Public Works Director Dan Centa said the breach was closed by 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, but there is still more work to finish along the Fountain. At about 2 p.m. Monday, crews from Tezak Construction began hauling the first shipments of large boulders used to block the opening from its quarry in Canon City, Centa said. From then, crews from the city, county, Colorado Department of Transportation, the Pueblo Board of Water Works and four construction companies worked nonstop to haul the stones and materials to the opening. Most worked throughout the night. Centa said the city purchased about 300 tons of concrete rubble and contributed another 2,000 tons of its own rubble to mix with an estimated 3,500 tons of boulders to form the new embankment."

More coverage from the Rocky Mountain News. They write, "Water up to 3 feet deep flooded the foundations of a dozen houses Monday in Pueblo after a levee along Fountain Creek was breached. At least two businesses also were flooded, and water spilled across a low-lying stretch of Colorado 47. The water had receded from homes and businesses by Monday evening, but authorities were recommending that residents spend the night elsewhere after water samples showed high levels of E. coli and other bacteria, said Woody Percival, of the Pueblo Fire Department. The creek has been running high because of runoff from recent rain and snow. Water from the creek filled a containment area on the north end of the city and spread across a road to houses in a low-lying area, police Capt. Richard Goddard said."

"colorado water"
8:19:25 AM     

H.R. 1025
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The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1025, the Lower Republican River Basin Study Act, according to the North Platte Telegraph. From the article, "The bill, The Lower Republican River Basin Study Act, passed the House Monday by a two-thirds vote. Of the 432 members of the House of Representatives, 370 voted to suspend the rules and pass the bill. One member voted against the bill, and 61 representatives did not vote. Moran did not vote, and neither did Nebraska Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry voted for the bill. The House version of the bill would allow the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a feasibility study on implementing a water supply and conservation project in the LRRB. If passed, the federal government won't pay for more than 50 percent of the cost of the study. In 2006, the study was estimated to cost $1.5 million, with the states picking up almost $750,000 of the tab. The CBO did not have an estimate for the 2007 bill that passed Monday...

"If the bill passes through the Senate, the Secretary of the Interior, through the Bureau of Reclamation would work with Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas to conduct the study. The study would look at a project that improves the reliability of water supply in the basin between Harlan County Lake in Nebraska and Milford Lake in Kansas. It would also seek to increase the capacity of water storage, improve water management efficiency through conservation.

"colorado water"
8:09:20 AM     

Hispanic citizenship drive

Wall Street Journal: "Backed by the largest Spanish-language broadcast network in the U.S., a massive campaign by Latino media and grass-roots groups to spur millions of eligible Hispanic residents to become U.S. citizens is showing results that could influence the agenda and outcome of the 2008 election. More than eight million green-card holders -- that is, legal permanent residents -- are eligible to become U.S. citizens, and the majority are immigrants of Latin American origin, according to U.S. government data. Now, Univision Communications Inc. is using its considerable clout with the Spanish-speaking community in the U.S. to turn this latent voting bloc into an active and potentially potent force. The citizenship drive, which is about to go national, could help turn Latinos into a key electoral constituency in several states. A larger bloc of new Latino voters would likely influence the immigration debate that has been dividing the country. In part because of this, Hispanic voters in recent elections have tended to cast ballots mostly for Democrats. For instance, in the 2006 congressional contest, Republican candidates who take a harder line on illegal immigrants than their rivals garnered only 31% of the Latino vote.

"Apart from immigration, Hispanics are animated by education and employment policies, so their greater participation could shape candidates' stances on those issues as well. Given past voting patterns, 'a surge in naturalizations will benefit Democrats at least twice as much as Republicans,' said Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization. The impact could be biggest in Southwestern states such as Arizona, but it could reach as far as Florida, which recently has experienced a large influx of non-Cuban Hispanic immigrants."

"2008 pres"
8:02:07 AM     

Southern Delivery System
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Here's an update about the Southern Delivery System from the Colorado Springs Independent. They write, "Colorado Springs' Southern Delivery System -- the long-awaited water pipeline meant to sustain our growth -- might be a reality in five years. The city's proposal would pump water north from Pueblo Reservoir, sending treated wastewater back down Fountain Creek. The pipeline would bring between 70 and 75 million gallons of water a day to Colorado Springs and its neighbors, meeting a third of Colorado Springs' projected yearly water needs. 'We built that vessel,' says City Councilor Margaret Radford of Pueblo Reservoir. 'Our citizens paid three-quarters of the cost of the reservoir. And I want to come out of it [with water].' While city leaders remain all but wedded to SDS, the plan, along with six alternatives, is under review by the federal government. The Bureau of Reclamation is completing an environmental-impact study of each water pipeline option, and likely won't finish until next year, when it will make a recommendation to the city...

"At least one person has raised questions about the federal process. Local developer Mark Morley claims that his own water-delivery plan, which would also create renewable hydroelectric power, was elbowed out of the running by stubborn city officials. For the past several years, Morley has agitated for a proposal that would pump water from the Arkansas River to Colorado Springs along state Highway 115, using an expanded Brush Hollow Reservoir as a storage facility. Morley owns land around Brush Hollow; he estimates that he would stand to gain $87 million from such a project over time. Morley maintains his proposal is cheaper, and more efficient, than the city's plan. He also says that city leaders have never given him fair consideration."

"colorado water"
7:51:49 AM     

Lamborn introduces Pueblo Reservoir expansion bill
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According to the Colorado Springs Gazette U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn has introduced legislation to expand storage in Pueblo Reservoir. From the article, "Rep. Doug Lamborn introduced a measure in the U.S. House on Thursday that would smooth the way to enlarge Pueblo Reservoir. A Colorado Springs Utilities official hailed the bill as 'standing up for our interests.' The bill, though, is at odds with Rep. John Salazar's bill that would delay expansion by requiring additional studies. Lamborn's bill calls for one study by the Bureau of Reclamation to determine if adding up to 50,000 acre feet of storage capacity to the reservoir is feasible. Colorado Springs plans a 43-mile pipeline to the city from Pueblo Reservoir, a $1 billion project that would accommodate the city's growth until 2040. Years after the pipeline is built, the city envisions expanding the reservoir and later on, expanding Turquoise Reservoir near Leadville. If the years-long study finds expansion is viable, Congress would have to separately authorize enlarging the reservoir. Lamborn's bill also would authorize participants in the Fryingpan-Arkansas storage project, which stores and delivers water in a nine-county area in southeastern Colorado, to have long-term storage contracts. Colorado Springs wants a contract spanning 40 years."

"colorado water"
7:41:09 AM     

Bayfield partnering for pre-treatment
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Here's an update on the sewage treatment problems in Bayfield from the Durango Herald. They write, "The town of Bayfield is working with major sewage dischargers to reduce the amount of organic matter they contribute to the overburdened treatment plant. 'We can't single out one entity,' Town Manager Justin Clifton said Thursday. 'Five entities have been identified as exceeding the limit. There are others, but it will take time to identify them.' The five dischargers known to have exceeded the limit of organic matter are Steamworks Brewing Co., Bayfield High School, Bayfield Elementary School, Riverside RV Park and Aspen Plaza, home to several businesses that discharge waste into a single line. All five dischargers are in the process of installing pre-treatment systems to keep the concentration of organic matter below the limit of 300 milligrams per liter, Clifton said. The town will contribute 50 percent of the cost of a pre-treatment system, not to exceed $5,000, he said...

"Maintaining an environmentally sound sewage-treatment plant is crucial to the growth of the town. Sewer hookups, which cost $3,500 to $4,000 each, are being counted on to pay for a new $7 million treatment plant. But in February, town officials imposed restrictions on new sewer taps to avoid another building moratorium by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment because of the overloaded sewage plant. State health authorities imposed a building ban in April 2006, but lifted it later. The town's own sewer-tap restrictions allow construction to go ahead but with the understanding that a sewer tap may not be available. The Bayfield sewage plant has operated at maximum capacity since last summer. The Bayfield plant, capable of handling 500,000 gallons of flow a day, is not constrained in that capacity, because maximum flows reach only 350,000 gallons a day during heavy rain. Average daily flow is 250,000 gallons a day from houses, industries and institutions. The problem is the plant's limitation in treating organic-rich effluent with microorganisms before discharging water into the Pine River. The town has made some modifications to lagoons at the sewage plant, but no major changes will be made before construction of the new plant begins in late fall."

"colorado water"
7:19:27 AM     

WRDA winding throuth the U.S. Senate
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From the Cherry Creek News, "This week, the Senate began consideration of the Water Resources and Development Act of 2007 (WRDA), which authorizes federal spending on water development, infrastructure, flood control and other projects conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. Contained in this year's WRDA is funding authorization for several projects in Colorado, two of which are in the Denver-Boulder metro region, all included at the request of United States Senator Ken Salazar...

"The WRDA includes funding authorization for six water projects around Colorado, including two projects critical to Denver and Boulder Metro Area:

"$10 Million for the Boulder County Pipeline: WRDA includes a $10 million authorization for construction of a water pipeline, which will protect drinking water quality and allow for year-round water delivery from Carter Lake to Boulder and other municipal area water providers; and

"$13.7 Million for Restoration of the South Platte: WRDA includes a $13.7 million authorization for the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct ecosystem restoration work along the South Platte River in Denver, to be matched by more than $7 million in non-Federal funds.

"Also included in WRDA is a $5 million authorization for the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct regional and watershed-wide studies to address selenium concentrations in Colorado, which in high doses can be fatal to humans, livestock and wildlife.

"WRDA also includes $10 million in authorization for construction of the Arkansas Valley Conduit, and instructions to the Secretary of the Army to speed up the study of the Fountain Creek watershed (the urgency of which was underscored by flooding in Pueblo this week). In addition, WRDA included an authorization of $25 million for the Rio Grande Environmental Management Program in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, which provides for the ongoing restoration and management of the Rio Grande, which is headwatered in Colorado, and its tributaries such as the Alamosa and Conejos Rivers."

"colorado water"
7:11:33 AM     

State of the [Colorado] River
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There will be a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the future of the Colorado River, according to the Summit Daily Press "reg". From the article, "State of the River: May 16, 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.; Summit County Senior and Community Center, County Commons; For more info: Call (970) 488-2442.

"Scott Balcomb will report on the inter-state negotiations regarding to overall allocation of the Colorado River between the lower basin and upper basin. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists will also be on hand to talk climate change, along with Denver Water and Bureau of Reclamation officials, who manage Dillon and Green Mountain reservoirs, respectively...

"Net flows in the Colorado River could shrink by 40 to 50 percent in the next half-century, with almost unimaginable consequences for the arid western states that rely on its water, under some scenarios outlined by the International Panel on Climate Change. Perched on the cusp of spring runoff, it may sound far-fetched, but it's conceivable that downstream states - Arizona, Nevada and California - could literally turn off the taps in Colorado by staking their full claim to all the water allocated to them under the far-reaching 1922 Colorado River Compact. Those states have water rights that pre-date Denver's claims on the Upper Colorado. So in the worst-case situation, Dillon Reservoir, for example, could be drained and remain empty, said Glenwood Springs water attorney Scott Balcomb, who represents Colorado in the ongoing negotiations between the upper and lower basin states. Conversely, if the upper basin states were to develop their full allotment, users in Southern California might suddenly be denied water they've been using above and beyond their allocated share, Balcomb said, adding that the climate change wild card increasingly points at some of these 'flash points.' Some of these issues will be at the crux of the Wednesday, May 16, state of the river meeting in Frisco, when Balcomb will discuss the operation of Lake Powell and negotiations with the lower basin states."

Meanwhile, here's an update on what is at stake with the recent agreement to share the Colorado River during drought, from the Longmont Daily Times-Call. From the article, "The four upper basin states that use Colorado River water have a big stake in the success of a proposal for managing the river, especially as the region's drought drags on, say negotiators and water managers. The upper basin states -- Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico -- are struggling with drought and could face cutbacks if they and users of the river water in Arizona, California and Nevada fight rather than cooperate, said Jim Lochhead, an attorney representing several Colorado water districts and communities. The seven states hope that an agreement they signed last week after months of negotiations will be adopted by the Interior Department to help manage the Colorado River. The Interior Department is considering guidelines for dealing with water shortages. The guidelines would update a 1922 compact laying out the states' shares of water from the river that starts in the Never Summer Range of the Rockies in north-central Colorado...

"The proposal would allow the upper basin to deliver less water during droughts and includes incentives for conservation, improved efficiency and ways for users to bank water in the reservoirs. The Interior Department expects to issue a final environmental impact statement on the guidelines by year's end. The agency had encouraged states to come up with their own solution or face one imposed by the government."

"colorado water"
7:05:39 AM     

Low runoff predicted for Roaring Fork
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Runoff on the Roaring Fork is predicted to be low leading to a rough summer ahead for the river, according to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. From the article, "The Roaring Fork River, one of Colorado's top quality streams, has a tough summer ahead of it. Winter snowfall, it appears, was below average, pointing toward another year of drought. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, below-average snowpack this winter will lead to below-average runoff this spring. We can look for a warm summer and dry conditions from May through July, Roaring Fork Conservancy executive director Rick Lofaro told a gathering of water users and officials Wednesday in Basalt. The Fryingpan River and Ruedi Reservoir are forecast to have 78 percent below normal flows this year. The Roaring Fork River will be 70 percent below average. Against this background of continuing, even mounting stress on the Roaring Fork, the Conservancy is preparing a watershed plan that Lofaro said will identify the current and potential impacts on the river and suggest ways to relieve them. The plan is now in the data-gathering phase and includes a series of stakeholder meetings like the gathering at Basalt High School Wednesday."

"colorado water"
6:54:49 AM     

Dolores River 'River Watchers'
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Here's a story about using high school students to monitor water quality from the Cortez Journal. From the article, "A group in Dolores is monitoring the health and well-being of the Dolores River. Once a month, they brave crossing the highway to the river, armed with syringes, bottles, filters and a hefty measure of curiosity. Some readings are taken at the river -- even breaking through thick ice in the winter -- and some require equipment in their laboratory. They consult with state officials, and they know what the river levels should be and what levels are out of whack. These River Watchers are Dolores High School freshmen, and under the direction of science teacher Dave Hopcia, the six members know their river as well their hometown...

"Hopcia said River Watchers in other towns have determined problems in their rivers and found solutions before problems became major. Students send water samples to the Colorado Division of Wildlife to be tested for heavy metals because they don't have the equipment. The Division of Wildlife donates all other testing equipment as long as club members conduct monthly tests. Metals include mercury, lead and zinc. There are two basic parts to the River Watchers' testing: chemistry and biology. Hopcia's seventh-graders test for river insects in the fall. Stone flies, caddis flies and mayflies are biological indicators intolerant to pollution."

"colorado water"
6:49:34 AM     

Regional Watershed Supply Project
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Here's an editorial in favor of Aaron Million's proposed Regional Watershed Supply Project from the Denver Post. They write, "The struggle between the parched Front Range region and the Western Slope that is home to most of Colorado's water has been one of the most bitter issues in state politics for more than half a century. Now, interest is growing in a plan to pipe in water from Wyoming's Flaming Gorge Reservoir - an innovative notion that might bring a cease-fire in our water wars...

"The Green River only loops through Colorado for 41 miles before returning to Utah. But because it eventually flows into the Colorado River, Colorado does have the right to take water from it under the terms of the 1922 Colorado River Compact. Western Slope residents don't object to the plan because they wouldn't lose any rights to the water they now use. Crucially, there is no need to build a reservoir for the Green River water - which is already impounded in Wyoming's existing Flaming Gorge Reservoir, where Colorado already has storage rights. Finally, it is much simpler politically to build a pipeline along I-80 - a corridor which already hosts oil and gas pipelines - than to divert the water in and out of Western Slope stream beds, a process that inevitably spawns water quality problems and infuriates fishermen. The 400-mile pipeline could cost up to $4 billion, which Million wants to finance with private investors. That has spawned some opposition by traditional 'water buffaloes' who prefer to have government agencies build such projects. In The Post's view, Colorado is so short of public capital for such crucial needs as higher education and highways that we'd be happy to let the private sector assume the burden of financing a project that could bring up to 160,000 acre feet of high-quality water to the Front Range - enough, if carefully managed, to handle municipal needs for decades to come without drying up eastern Colorado farms and the jobs and open space they provide."

"colorado water"
6:36:22 AM     

Whitewater season looking good
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Whitewater enthusiasts are cautiously optimistic about this season. Here's a look at runoff conditions from the Greeley Tribune "reg". From the article, "Spring storms and healthy reservoir levels are going to make for high water flows on the Blue, Arkansas, Clear Creek and Colorado rivers, according to local boaters. According to Kevin Foley of Performance Tours in Breckenridge, some of the best rafting in the state is going to be right in our backyard. In the past, the Blue River has only been raftable for maybe 10 or 13 days out of the year, but this year it is anticipated to run much longer because of the high reservoir levels. 'This is going to be the best year on the Blue in more than 10 years,' Foley said. There are high reservoir levels across the state and with the above average snowfall that Denver received this year, less water will be diverted from the High Country to the Front Range. The reservoir levels were also higher than average here in the Dillon Reservoir at the end of the summer last year, which boasts well for the early rafting season. Highside Adventure Tours/ Good Times Rafting located in Frisco has also begun trips on the Blue River and says Clear Creek, which is the fastest growing river in terms of popularity for rafting, will also see high levels."

More coverage from the Denver Post. They write, "The water swirling around Kaleb Timberlake's knees isn't raging yet, but it will be soon. The pending surge makes him hurry. There's more wood to cut, and his chain saw can rip through the sodden timber only so fast. In a week, maybe less, the trickle that is the West Fork of Clear Creek will swell into a boiling cascade of Class V whitewater and the tree wedged in the narrow canyon certainly will block any passage of the expert paddler's backyard run. If an unsuspecting kayaker happens across this tree or is uncontrollably forced into it, he or she would be facing big trouble. It has to go. As his chain saw finishes its last, screaming cut, the trunk of the tree floats free. Ropes anchoring the timber to shore snap taut as it pendulums to the side of the soon-to-be seething river. Then the real work begins as two kayakers wrestle the massive tree up the bank, past the high-water mark. It's a scene played out every spring in Colorado's remote gorges and scenic rivers as an unknown army of kayakers labors to keep its skirt-snapping brethren safe and the runs clean by unclogging the timber that inevitably conspires to block passage of the favorite runs. They work for no pay, teetering on wet rocks and logs in the middle of swift whitewater with shrieking chain saws or, even worse, handsaws. They orchestrate meticulously planned missions with ropes, saws, come-along winches and kayaks to make sure their creeks are clean and boatable."

From the Pueblo Chieftain, "Last year, river-rafting enthusiasts forked over a record-setting $139 million for the privilege of getting wet and wild on Colorado's 13 river systems. More than 237,000 of them - nearly half the state's total - participated in guided, commercial rafting trips on the Arkansas, the nation's most popular whitewater river."

"colorado water"
6:30:08 AM     

Energy policy: Nuclear
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Here's an in-depth look at the uranium mining proposal up in Weld County from the Rocky Mountain News. Read the whole article. Here's an excerpt, "Powertech, riding the red-hot uranium market, wants to pull the radioactive metal from 600 feet below the earth, but without using the typical mining tools - earthmovers, haul trucks and industrial-sized shovels. Instead, the company wants to poke hundreds of holes into the ground, push water deep into it, leach the uranium out of the ore, draw it back up to the surface and sort it out there. Called 'in-situ' mining, the technique is advertised as far less destructive and disruptive than conventional mining. As described in the letter to property owners, the technique has 'evolved to the point where it is a controllable, safe and environmentally benign method of mining, which can operate under strict environmental controls.' But some locals don't buy it...

"Uranium mining isn't new to Colorado, which ranks third among states for its uranium reserves, behind Wyoming and New Mexico. Uranium mines and milling plants dating from the World War II era dot the Western Slope. Regulators have spent decades cleaning up old uranium operations. Currently, 32 sites have active permits for uranium mining, according to the state's Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, all but one of them west of the Continental Divide. The only active Front Range site is in Jefferson County. Many see a new gold rush for the metal as nuclear power mounts a comeback in places such as China and India, where accelerating economies need new energy sources. The market for uranium has soared in recent years, with prices rising from $7 per pound in 2000 to $30 in 2005 to $60 in late 2006 to $120 this month."

"2008 pres"
6:15:21 AM     

Farm disaster on the South Platte
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Here's an update about the farmers that are not allowed to pump from wells in the South Platte alluvial aquifer this year from the Greeley Tribune "reg". From the article, "It's a good thing Mother Nature showed some kindness early this spring because Colorado legislators didn't. That's the feeling of most northern Colorado farmers faced with their irrigation well being shut down, and some of those battles are tied up in a court action that won't be decided soon enough to do any good this year. Others are restricted in the amount of water they will be able to pump to grow their crops this season...

"Mother Nature helped, however, with heavy spring snow and rain, particularly near the headwaters of the South Platte, which allowed water managers to fill nearly every water hole between Denver and the Colorado-Nebraksa line -- water which will allow surface owners to irrigate crops well into the summer. But even that has made farmers unhappy. With all the reservoirs, gravel pits and recharge pits full of water, most of what is flowing down the South Platte is now going out of state. Tom Cech, director of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District, said had the 440 wells shut down by the state pumped full time last year, they would have used about 30,000 acre feet of water. The district, meanwhile, is waiting on a court decision on a water replacement plan for 215 of those wells. About half the needed water to replace well depletions -- had they been operational -- has already left the state this year, said Jim Hall, Water Division 1 engineer in Greeley...

"Hall said he estimates about 16,000 acre feet of water has flowed into Nebraska since April 25 when there has been a "free river," meaning there have been no calls for water by those holding water rights. He said he has no idea how long that condition may exist, but runoff from the high mountain snowpack traditionally does not start until late May or early June."

Here's another report about conditions on the South Platte from the Longmont Daily Times-Call. They write, "Regardless, this year's runoff season is shaping up to be better than last year, and not just because of late rains and high water flows in the South Platte River, said Don Graffis, a soil scientist with the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service in Longmont. 'We've got better snowpack right now than we did last year,' he said. The South Platte River Basin, which includes northern Colorado mountains on the Eastern Slope, is at 90 percent of average, compared to 50 percent last year. Graffis spent part of last week visiting farmers and checking soil conditions. The ground is moist, and sugar beet crops are already coming out of the ground, he said. 'From a farmer's perspective, this is looking a lot better,' Graffis said. 'Last year, they had 3 inches of dry soil to work with. They were already irrigating during this time of the year.'

"colorado water"
6:06:39 AM     

Lake Powell pipeline?
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Utah is moving ahead with their plans to evaluate the feasibility of the Lake Powell Pipeline according to Reed / ACP Construction Data. From the article, "The Utah Board of Water Resources has awarded a $5.6-million contract to MWH, Colorado-based international consulting firm, to begin preliminary engineering and environmental studies of the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline. 'We are now beginning the early stages of developing this project,' said Dennis Strong, director of the state's Division of Water Resources. 'Studies completed previously established the general feasibility of the project and possible alignments. These are now outdated. These [new] studies are needed to better define the project and evaluate it in response to rapidly rising construction costs.' Work under the contract, which will take 18 months to complete, will analyze construction issues such as the physical route of the 130-mile pipeline and review alternatives for the water needs of the communities the pipeline will serve. Study results will be shared with the Bureau of Land Management, which will use the data in its own environmental analysis of the project. BLM manages most of the land through which the pipeline will pass and will decide whether or not to permit its construction. The Lake Powell Pipeline is intended to link the giant Colorado River reservoir on the Utah-Arizona border with Kane and Washington counties in southwestern Utah, with a 35-mile spur northward into Iron County."

"colorado water"
5:55:35 AM     

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