Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

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President Bush plans to nominate a Gale Norton clone for Secretary of Interior, according to the Denver Post. From the article, "President Bush will abide by tradition and name a Westerner to replace Interior Secretary Gale Norton, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said.

"And the White House will look for a successor whose views mirror those of the pro-development Norton, Card said...

"Norton, a former Colorado attorney general and Denver lawyer, was sent to the Interior Department to correct what Republicans and industry saw as a lack of balance on the public lands of the West - too much preservation and not enough development.

"As she leaves, both sides of the debate agree she succeeded. Norton has overseen aggressive efforts to tap federal oil and gas reserves.

"Under Norton, there has been a 22 percent increase in coal production on praised by industry and reviled by most environmentalists for her pro-development stand. She plans to seek a job in the private sector.

"U.S. public lands and a 17 percent increase in natural-gas production. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, part of her agency, went from a backlog of oil and gas permits to producing them faster than companies can drill them.

"She also made federal lands friendlier to loggers, snowmobilers and off- roaders...

"The Interior job requires Senate confirmation, and Norton's successor will inherit a number of high-profile policy and political battles.

"The Bush administration is pushing to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore gas and oil fields for drilling. Interior remains stuck in a bitter legal fight over royalties due to American Indians. And conservatives in Congress want to rewrite long- standing environmental protection statutes, such as the Endangered Species Act.

"The department also is embroiled in a corruption probe involving convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Indian casino gambling...

"Several Colorado Republicans said two-term Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne should be at or near the top of any list of potential nominees for Interior."

Category: Colorado Water

7:52:56 AM    

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State Representative, Ray Rose (R-Montrose) has been named to the top GOP spot on the House Agriculture Committee, according to the Durango Herald. From the article, "The job makes him responsible for getting out information to the other Republicans on the bills before the committee and speaking for the party on certain bills. 'It is critical that conservative views still have a strong presence on this committee, and I plan to use this position to make our votes as productive as possible for the people of Colorado,' he said. Rose said the committee will consider several water issues, including a bill to govern water rights for kayak parks. Rose got his promotion as part of a domino effect from the resignation of House Minority Leader Joe Stengel. The former top Republican on the Agriculture Committee, Rep. Ted Harvey, moved up to be assistant minority leader, leaving the spot open for Rose. Rose's 58th House District includes parts of Montezuma and Delta counties, and all of Dolores, Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel counties."

Category: Colorado Water

7:35:14 AM    

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Americans (well some anyway) have been bashing the United Nations for a few years now. Coyote Gulch hopes that people will set aside their views about the UN's role in Iraq, forget the oil for food scandal, and pay attention to a new UN report on the looming worldwide water crisis.

From The Independent (UK), "The world's great rivers are drying up at an alarming rate, with devastating consequences for humanity, animals and the future of the planet.

"The Independent on Sunday can today reveal that more than half the world's 500 mightiest rivers have been seriously depleted. Some have been reduced to a trickle in what the United Nations will this week warn is a 'disaster in the making'.

"From the Nile to China's Yellow River, some of the world's great water systems are now under such pressure that they often fail to deposit their water in the ocean or are interrupted in the course to the sea, with grave consequences for the planet.

"Adding to the disaster, all of the 20 longer rivers are being disrupted by big dams. One-fifth of all freshwater fish species either face extinction or are already extinct.

"The Nile and Pakistan's Indus are greatly reduced by the time they reach the sea. Some, such as the Colorado and China's Yellow River, now rarely reach the ocean at all. Others, such as the Jordan and the Rio Grande on the US-Mexico border, are dry for much of their length.

"Even in Britain, a quarter of the country's 160 chalk rivers and steams - such as the Kennet in Wiltshire, the Darent in Kent, and the Wylye in Wiltshire - are running out of water because too much is being abstracted for homes, industry and agriculture.

"This week an influential UN report will officially warn the world's governments of an 'alarming deterioration' in the planet's rivers, lakes and other freshwater systems. Klaus Toepfer, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, told the IoS yesterday that the state of the world's rivers is 'a disaster in the making'.

"The UN's triennial World Water Development Report, compiled for an international conference in Mexico City which opens on Thursday, warns that 'we have hugely changed the natural order of rivers worldwide', mainly through giant dams and global warming. Some 45,000 big dams now block the world's rivers, trapping 15 per cent of all the water that used to flow from the land to the sea. Reservoirs now cover almost 1 per cent of land surface.

"The UN report says that demand for them 'will continue to increase', but recommends that they should be barred from the world's remaining, undammed 'free-flowing' rivers.

"The United States has dismantled 465 dams in recent years, mainly for environmental reasons. But last week, in an abrupt U-turn, it signalled that it was about to embark on its biggest dam-building campaign in decades, when the Washington State legislature passed a bill to allow the federal government to build a series of dams on the Columbia, the West's largest river.

"Global warming is endangering even the rivers that have largely escaped damming.

"The relatively untamed Amazon was hit by its most serious drought on record last autumn. And salmon are dying in Alaska's Yukon River - the world's longest undammed watercourse - because its waters are getting too hot.

"On Tuesday an international day of action will see demonstrations across the globe to draw attention to rivers' plight.

Category: Colorado Water

7:23:52 AM    

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Here's an article from the Pueblo Chieftain with details about entrepreneurs that are trying to build businesses around water produced from oil and gas wells. You gotta love the idea. Since all water on the planet has been recycled for millennia by natural processes we need to use what we have. Everyone lives downstream.

From the Chieftain, "To those who operate oil and gas wells, water is a waste product.

"A few entrepreneurs hope to change that, creating a new industry around so-called produced water. While the water would fulfill only a minuscule fraction of the state's future water needs, such supplies could be important in some areas.

"Oil wells typically produce more water as they age, making recovery of oil more difficult. They play out as stripper wells, producing far more water than crude. In some cases, the produced water can be injected into the wells to force more oil to the surface. If the water quality is good enough, a well operator might opt to send the water down the nearest stream.

"Gas wells, including the methane coal beds in Las Animas and Huerfano counties, typically produce less water than oil wells, but the amount of water can be significant - millions of gallons per day for the thousands of wells in the area.

"In Wellington, a small community nine miles north of Fort Collins, a farmer wants to use produced water to irrigate fields and selling surface flows to cities.

"Meanwhile, a couple of retired businessmen living in Huerfano County are looking into forming a small company to provide water for cisterns...

"...two retired businessmen living near La Veta are using their own experience from the drought of 2002 to investigate creating a nonprofit business centered on produced water.

"Len Hearns and Ernie Haynes want to use water from a nearby gas well to supply cisterns in rural Huerfano County. The project is still in its embryonic stage, as a market feasibility study has not been completed, Hearns said...

"Water Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte said using produced water presents several challenging issues.

"Right now, much of the water is released directly into streams. At a workshop in Trinidad last year, a Pioneer Natural Resources spokesman said about half of the 2.4 million gallons daily of produced water from the company's wells is released into state waters.

"The rest is kept in holding ponds, where it either evaporates or is pumped back into the ground.

"Witte said the water flowing into streams benefits water rights, mostly held by irrigators...

"To claim it at the source, the first step would be to prove it's not tributary - in other words, part of the natural flow of the nearby streams. Such well fields are recognized in Colorado water law.

"The produced water in Las Animas and Huerfano counties usually is associated with coal seams 700 to 4,000 feet deep, so it may fulfill the requirements of nontributary water.

"But that has yet to be tested in water court.

"Las Animas County has filed a claim on produced waters that has not yet been decided, Witte said.

"Producers in Huerfano County unsuccessfully tried to claim water already impounded, but their claim was dismissed.

"If the water is found to be tributary, it could still be used, but an augmentation plan would be needed, Witte said."

Category: Colorado Water
7:09:32 AM    

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