Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Thursday, February 2, 2006

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More than one billion people lack access to clean water, according to the World Wildlife Federation. They write, "More than one billion people lack access to freshwater and more than two billion people lack adequate sanitation services. Wetlands and rivers are the source of water, a source of life, and they are running out fast. In some developing countries - worst hit by the water crisis - the loss of wetlands forces people to walk greater distances to fetch water for cooking and basic everyday care...

"About two billion people are already experiencing water shortages. According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis report, wild caught fisheries and freshwater are exploited well beyond sustainable levels and this does not factor in future, growing demand. Water removal for human use means that several major rivers, including the Nile, Yellow, and Colorado Rivers, do not always flow to the sea."

Category: Colorado Water

6:18:47 AM    

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Here's a story from the Rocky Mountain News dealing with the agreement this week for a drought plan on the Colorado River [February 2, 2006, "'Peace for 25 years'"]. From the article, "The tentative deal provides more protection for Colorado's share of the river and for Lake Powell during dry years, Lochhead said, and gives all the states more flexibility in managing their own supplies...

"The new proposal includes commitments to reduce water use in dry years, to manage Lake Powell and Lake Mead jointly, to rebuild delivery systems below Lake Mead to minimize water lost to evaporation, and for the states to consult with one another before filing lawsuits...

"Under the terms of the tentative agreement: Nevada, Arizona and California have agreed to reduce water use in dry years when Lake Powell and Lake Mead drop to dangerous lows; Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico have agreed to cope with slightly lower levels in Lake Powell in normal years in exchange for being able to keep more water in Powell during droughts, a move that protects Colorado and its neighbors from demands for more water from such cities as Las Vegas and Phoenix; New operating rules will protect water levels needed to generate power and to protect recreational facilities at Lake Powell and Lake Mead; Nevada, Arizona and California - already forecasting shortages - have agreed to look for ways to boost the river's water supplies, including building desalination plants on the Mexican border, building better delivery systems below Lake Mead to reduce water waste, and financing more cloud seeding programs to boost mountain snowpacks; And all seven states have agreed to pause to consult with one another before initiating lawsuits."

More coverage from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. They write, "Officials said the proposed plan protects the Upper Basin states - Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah - by allowing officials to adjust the amount of water released from Lake Powell, the Upper Basin reservoir."

Category: Colorado Water

6:07:49 AM    

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The Ogallala aquifer is mined for water from South Dakota to Texas. It underlies a portion of eastern Colorado also. Officials and farmers are worried about sustaining production in light of the aquifer's imminent depletion, according to the Kansas City Star. From the article, "The aquifer nourishes vital industries on the Plains - it produces the nation's beef supply and much of its wheat and corn crops...

"Ulysses [Kansas] sits in a stretch of the Corn Belt where the water table has dropped about 25 feet in the last decade. Once-wild rivers have turned to gravel, and above-round streams stopped running years ago. It has been a long time since anyone thought the sky might water their crops...

"Since the 1940s, its wells have drawn from the Ogallala Aquifer, the world's largest underground water system. The Ogallala irrigates one-third of the nation's corn and provides drinking water to eight states. It's also the fastest-disappearing aquifer in the world.

"In many places, the aquifer is flush with water - in the area near Nebraska's Platte River, for instance, streams quickly recharge the water table's deep channels.

"But hydrologists estimate that in the flat plains around Ulysses, the aquifer will last about another 25 years if current usage continues. Farther south in the Texas Panhandle, the United States Geological Survey's prognosis is even worse: The water table near Lubbock, Texas, is so depleted that the city would have gone dry by 2003 if leaders had not bought up water rights - a legal term for the privilege of tapping new sources of water.

"Some farmers have started switching from corn to cotton, which needs less water. But for drinking water, towns have little choice but to spend millions to move water from miles away."

Update: "In a February First story about the Ogallala Aquifer, The Associated Press, relying on statements from Lubbock city councilmen erroneously reported that federal water data showed the city was in danger of going dry in 2003 because of the depleted water table.

"The U.S. Geological Survey didn't predict that the aquifer was at risk of running dry near Lubbock -- although its data showed significant water table declines in parts of the Lubbock region. The city supplemented its main water supply, Lake Meredith, with additional water from the Ogallala to counter the threat, the Lubbock city manager said."

Category: Colorado Water

5:59:36 AM    

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Pueblo has revised their lawsuit against Colorado Springs to include more instances of pollutants being release and to set the daily fines in the case of future incidents, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "Pueblo District Attorney Bill Thiebaut has added new allegations in his lawsuit against Colorado Springs for polluting Fountain Creek...

"The new allegations pertain to allegedly illegal discharges of sewage after the lawsuit was filed and to allegedly illegal amounts of chlorine discharged from Colorado Springs' treatment plant...

"The revisions also say the plant discharged chlorine in excess of what is allowed under a permit from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Chlorine is used in the treatment of sewage...

"The original lawsuit seeks a court order to prohibit future illegal pollution from the sewage system and a $32,500 daily penalty for each violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

"The revised suit also seeks a judge's order to require Colorado Springs to remedy damage to watersheds 'to reverse the effects of its illegal discharges.'

"In addition to Fountain Creek, the other watersheds are those of Sand Creek, Cottonwood Creek, Monument Creek, Shooks Run and the Arkansas River."

Category: Colorado Water

5:46:43 AM    

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Pueblo Chieftan: "The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District should pay for and direct most of a study to enlarge Lake Pueblo, President Wally Stealey said Wednesday.

"The move could mean refunding $1.3 million in payments to participants in the Preferred Storage Options Plan enterprise, with the district as a whole taking over the funding. The district itself would foot the bill for at least half of the PSOP feasibility study, possibly as much as $4 million, Stealey said...

"Stealey's comments surprised fellow board members. While proposed PSOP legislation includes provisions for 50 percent local funding, there was no indication the operation of the PSOP enterprise could be changed...

"Colorado Springs is the largest participant, with nearly half of the enlargement at 30,000 acre-feet. Pueblo West has 5,500 acre-feet. Pueblo Water Works and Otero County are the next largest users, with about 5,000 acre-feet each. The Southeastern District gets a 15 percent premium, along with its own share, for about 10,000 acre-feet. Others in the enlargement portion of the plan are La Junta, Florence, Salida, Poncha Springs, Crowley County and the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District."

Category: Colorado Water

5:38:43 AM    

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