Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Friday, March 10, 2006

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Readers of Coyote Gulch know that drought continues over the southern mountains and across the southwest U.S. One of our favorite websites to visit is the U.S. Drought Monitor website (We love depressing graphics). They post weekly updates to the drought map among other goodies for all you water nuts out there.

Category: Colorado Water

7:34:32 AM    

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Scientists are tickled pink that the Casini probe has found strong evidence of water on Saturn's moon Enceladus, according to

From the article, "Saturn's moon Enceladus may have pockets of liquid water lurking beneath its surface, feeding great jets that spew from the satellite and hinting at the possibility of a habitable environment, researchers said Thursday.

"Observations from the Cassini spacecraft currently studying Saturn and its myriad moons shows Enceladus, one of the brightest objects in the Solar System, to be a geologist's dream, with an active plume spewing water and other material spaceward, as well as a hot spot of thermal activity at its south pole...

"Enceladus' active nature points toward subsurface water reservoirs beneath its icy exterior, much like that believed to churn just under the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa, researchers said. But unlike Europa, which researchers believe harbors a vast ocean beneath kilometers of thick ice, Enceladus' water may be just below the surface...

"Cassini caught hard evidence of Enceladus' plume since last year, though scientists were unsure of what powers the jets of particles blowing into space. The moon is only the third other body in the Solar System - Earth, Jupiter's moon Io and possibly Neptune's moon Triton are the others - known to have active volcanic processes, researchers said.

"[Carolyn] Porco's team found evidence that the jets may erupt from buried pockets of water at temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) like a frigid geyser.

"The close proximity of water, rock and the south pole's thermal hot spot puts Enceladus on the list of possible harbors for biological activity, some researchers said.

"'You've got liquid water, and it's liquid water interfacing with rock...and there's energy,' NASA Cassini scientist Candice Hansen-Koharcheck told 'We've got the very most basic ingredients here, and so that notches it up on the biological potential list.'"

Read the whole article - there are some great photos posted.

Category: Colorado Water

7:23:12 AM    

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Water quality is a growing concern in the Arkansas Valley and across Colorado with more diversions of surface water planned. Here's an article from today's Pueblo Chieftain about computer modeling for monitoring and prediction.

From the article, "A computer model to predict water quality changes from agricultural efficiency, urban water transfers and tamarisk removal is being refined and almost at the point where it can be applied to real-world decisions...

"[Tim] Gates' study of more than 250,000 irrigated acres of farmland is funded in part by the Southeastern District and Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

"Gates began the study in 1998 to look at irrigation practices in the Lower Arkansas Valley. About 230 wells have been monitored along with surface water and soil testing. Over time, the study has been expanded to look at ways to improve agricultural efficiency and water quality on a regional scale.

"The study also was expanded to look at impacts on the entire basin, which faces issues from salinity and selenium. Salinity refers to the amount of dissolved solids in the water, which increases with return flows east of Pueblo. Selenium is an element that leaches into the river as water flows over natural formations.

"Preliminary findings include: More efficient irrigation techniques could lower water tables and salinity, increasing crop yields by at least 10 percent; Overall salinity loading in the Arkansas River could be reduced by 40 percent; Water tables in the valley were high in the late 1990s, and began dropping during the drought of 2002, but not significantly - It[base ']s rising again as the area slowly recovers from drought, Gates said; The high water tables are actually a source of water loss, Gates explained - With high water tables, water wicks to the surface and evaporates, soil salinity increases, crop yields drop and the water supply on nonproductive land for invasive species like tamarisk (also called salt cedar) increases...

"Lowered water tables would mean increased water in the river, helping to satisfy downstream demands and Colorado's Arkansas River Compact obligations.

"Tamarisk removal and agricultural techniques like drip irrigation would also increase the water supply in the river, Gates said.

Category: Colorado Water

6:58:50 AM    

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Pueblo Chieftain: "A Colorado Springs district judge on Thursday transferred Colorado Springs Utilities' lawsuit over Pueblo County's land-use regulations to Pueblo district court.

"Judge Edward S. Colt granted Pueblo County's motion for a change of venue in the lawsuit, filed by Colorado Springs Utilities last November. The utility is challenging Pueblo's new land-use regulations on the 'efficient utilization' of water projects, claiming among other things that the regulations were developed specifically to thwart Colorado Springs' plans to build its Southern Delivery System...

"In the lawsuit, the utility contended that Pueblo County was trying to extend its regulatory authority into El Paso County, noting that most of the land acreage and miles of pipeline in the system would be in El Paso County...

"Judge Colt noted that both sides relied on Colorado's Rules of Civil Procedure, which provide that 'all actions affecting real property, franchises or utilities shall be tried in the county in which the subject of the action or a substantial part thereof is situated.'

"The defining case on the issue, however, was the City of Denver's challenge to land-use regulations adopted in Eagle County, which limited a water project planned by Denver in the early 1980s."

Category: Colorado Water

6:48:57 AM    

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