Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Friday, November 24, 2006

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Denver Water is still dealing with silt in Cheesman Reservoir from the Hayman burn, according to the Denver Post. From the article, "More than four years after the Hayman fire roared over the land surrounding Denver Water's oldest reservoir, the utility continues to wrestle with the fire's aftereffects. Mud, ash and decomposed granite pours into the reservoir whenever a storm hits, sending tons of muck toward the 101- year-old man-made lake that was at the fire's center. All this creates an ongoing headache for the state's largest water provider. Utility managers worry that debris may eventually fill in the reservoir, gum up the pipes and render the water system ineffective...

"The utility has spent $7.8 million in the last four years on activities such as removing debris, replacing culverts, building sediment dams and seeding slopes, officials say. There is still $20 million worth of work that remains to remove an estimated 1 million cubic yards of fire-related debris from Strontia Springs Reservoir, downstream of Cheesman, managers said. That debris also is coming from previous fires, officials said...

"For the next seven years, Denver Water will plant 25,000 trees every year with hopes of creating more stable slopes. Scars of the June 2002 Hayman fire, which burned about 138,000 acres southwest of Denver, are still visible. Blackened trees and scorched earth mark the burned landscape. Cheesman Reservoir split the fire into two heads, and the watershed endured some of the fire's most intense heat. The forest around the lake was virtually untouched for decades, but the fire destroyed 900-year-old trees on the watershed and destabilized slopes that drain into the reservoir...

"In 2003, utility workers built a 50-foot-tall rock dam on Turkey Creek. The year before, a similar dam was built on Goose Creek. Both creeks feed the reservoir. The dams allow water through to the reservoir but block most of the dirt. The dams create an ongoing buildup of debris on the creeks that the utility spends roughly $300,000 a year to clear. After a storm destroyed part of Colorado 67 in the summer, debris built up 10 feet from the top of the Turkey Creek dam. A crew of eight, who will live at the reservoir through the end of the year, spends 10-hour days scooping up the granite, dirt and ash from in front of the dam. They dump 30 or 40 tons at a time into trucks and haul the debris up a hill to a pile that officials hope won't fall back into the creek when the next storm hits."

Category: Colorado Water

6:42:31 AM    

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Here's a report about tamarisk removal and other strategies from the Denver Post. From the article, "Wildlife had abandoned large expanses of the Escalante State Wildlife Area after impenetrable walls of tamarisk had clogged access to the river over the years. Tamarisk had turned more than 50 acres of the area into a wildlife wasteland. Now, one of the largest tamarisk-removal projects in the state is changing the area into a prototype for other efforts to conquer the damaging shrub - estimated to cover some 55,000 acres in Colorado - that can spread itself up streams at a rate of 12 miles a year and suck up to 300 gallons of water per day per bush. The Escalante removal is being done through a large coalition of water and wildlife agencies, including the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. And this project is taking removal a step further by adding restoration that will create wetlands, ponds and expanses reseeded with native cottonwoods, willows and grasses. When the tamarisk is licked, the river will be braided through meadows as it was before the Mediterranean transplant became the scourge of Western waterways. Similar efforts are underway in nearby Mesa County where a nonprofit coalition is working with the Bureau of Reclamation on smaller areas...

"These efforts are going to take another two years. Regrowth must be yanked out next year and chemicals applied to remaining roots. But effects - like the return of deer - are already being seen in an area where cottonwoods and willows are no longer hidden by tamarisk. The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory has been studying returning bird populations that don't feed on or nest in tamarisk. And the Fish and Wildlife Department has been monitoring fish populations that tend to move on when tamarisk alters rivers. The area has become a popular tour spot for other agencies interested in tamarisk eradication, including representatives from Denver Botanic Gardens."

Meanwhile Chaffee County has decided against financially helping the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District with their tamarisk problem, according to The Mountain Mail. From the article, "Upon advice from the county weed manager Tuesday, Chaffee County Commissioners refused a request for financial support of a tamarisk management study. The request during the commissioners' regular meeting in Buena Vista was from the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District of Pueblo. Weed manager Larry Walker told commissioners the county is already part of a successful tamarisk control group. 'I think there are good intentions, but it's already being done,' Walker said, 'and I really don't see where we are going to see anything from sending money downstream ... There's no sense in re-inventing the wheel on this stuff.' The Southeastern district was seeking money from counties in the Arkansas River basin to seed a grant application for tamarisk management from the Department of Local Affairs. The district needs $50,000 to seed the $150,000 grant. The money would produce a strategic plan for tamarisk control in the valley."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:33:02 AM    

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