Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Saturday, December 9, 2006

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Here's a report on a Boulder startup that is hoping to produce economically viable biofuel from algae. from the article, "A business startup in Boulder is working with Colorado State University engineers on technology that begins with algae and ends with eco-friendly fuel. Over the next two years, Solix Biofuels Inc. plans to commercialize the technology, which affordably mass-produces oil derived from fast-growing algae and turns it into biodiesel. The goal is to offer biodiesel at costs competitive with the wholesale price of crude petroleum. 'Algae are the fastest-growing organisms on the planet and can produce 100 times more oil per acre than conventional soil-tilled crops that are now being grown for biofuel use,' said Solix founder Jim Sears. Solix is using a photo-bioreactor system to grow algae and extract its oil. The main ingredients for the process are sun and carbon dioxide, which is readily available from coal-burning power plants and ethanol plants. A carbon-dioxide producer, New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, has agreed to let the researchers use excess carbon dioxide from its plant to test the process."

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

7:47:48 AM    

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High Plains/Midwest AG Journal: "Many northeast Colorado dryland farmers realize the benefits of no-till farming in their crop rotations. There are now a few irrigated farmers who have also transitioned to high residue farming. Irrigators may become more interested in reduced tillage at a time when water savings and management and labor allocations become more important considerations. An Arkansas economist found little to no cost savings with no-till production compared to conventional tillage, the savings in tillage costs usually offset the increased herbicide use. However, he found no-till farming saved one-third hour of production time per acre. Researchers in eastern Colorado have found the benefits of no-till include: increases in soil organic matter, water holding capacity and infiltration rates, and earthworm populations. Furthermore: no-till improves soil structure and tilth and reduces erosion and compaction. In addition, moisture is conserved, resulting in three or more inches water available to the crops. Making no-till farming work takes the right equipment, additional management in making it work and the patience to learn and make it succeed during the transition. Experienced farmers have found that no-till and conservation farming methods take several years to prove themselves."

Category: Colorado Water

7:34:56 AM    

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Knox News: "Mines in the United States are failing to meet water-quality standards, according to a research study by Earthworks, a mine-watchdog group. That's despite the fact that today's mines - unlike historic ones - must show they will meet water-quality standards to get approved. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials said the study might provide some new and useful information to regulators. 'It's the kind of information that we don't have at our fingertips,' said Michael Gearhead, the EPA's regional director for water and watersheds in Seattle. One of the study's major findings: Water-quality impacts at mines are common and they are most often caused by unsuccessful cleanups. Why is this happening? The main culprit appears to be faulty predictions before the mines are approved by regulators, the study's authors said Thursday."

Here's the link to the report, Comparison of Predicted and Actual Water Quality at Hardrock Mines.

Category: Colorado Water

7:26:54 AM    

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According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Colorado Springs Councilman Tom Gallagher claims that there is no conflict of interest and that he should not be barred from actions around the Southern Delivery system. From the article, "Gallagher works for Engineering & Surveying Inc., owned by Robin Morley, the wife of Jim Morley. Jim Morley's brother, Mark, owns H2O Providers, LLC. Gallagher helped H2O, formed in June, apply for water rights for a 48-inch pipeline upstream of Pueblo Reservoir in Fremont County that would pump water to Colorado Springs along Colorado Highway 115. If granted, it would prevent the city from installing a water line in the same location, Rivera said. Two entities controlled by H2O are seeking permission for a hydropower project to which the city has officially objected in water court. The city has filed for the right to siphon water from the river at the same place, which Rivera said makes the city and H2O 'competing applications.' Gallagher, who said he wasn't being paid by H2O, called the mayor's allegations 'theoretical,' because nothing has been decided. Also, the Bureau of Reclamation, not the city, will decide whether the city will use the Fremont County alternative for the Southern Delivery System, which would pump water to Colorado Springs."

Category: Colorado Water

7:12:47 AM    

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Wilderness status for the Beaver Creek wilderness study area is the subject of this article from the Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article, "A scenic wildland area 11 miles southwest of Colorado Springs that's languished as a recommended wilderness area for years has a chance to gain permanent federal protection. A Democratic Congress that will take over next month is expected to be more nature-friendly. More important, a huge obstacle to Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area's designation - Colorado Springs Utilities' opposition - might be lifted. Utilities spokeswoman Rachel Beck said the city's water experts are ready to revisit whether a wilderness designation would impair the city's ability to use water from Beaver Creek, which flows off Pikes Peak's south slope...

"Concerns about water rights were noted in a 1993 Bureau of Land Management environmental impact statement that characterized the 20,750-acre Beaver Creek area as 'out-standingly remarkable' and worthy of the wilderness label. The study found that massive granite walls rising above the creek and conifer, aspen and Gambel oak shelter the once-endangered peregrine falcon and still-threatened Mexican spotted owl. It's also one of the few places that support four species of trout - brook, rainbow, brown and native cutthroat. If given the federal protection that precludes logging, mining and road-building, Beaver Creek would become Colorado Springs' nearest wilderness area.

"In the past, Colorado Springs has worried that a wilderness designation would complicate management of its water rights in Rosemont and South Slope watersheds above Beaver Creek. Wilderness designations usually call for a federal reserved water right, which allows for sufficient water to sustain the proposed use. The city has noted that a wilderness designation downstream of its reservoirs could interfere with rehabilitation of its high-altitude dams, which are more than 100 years old. Construction activities could have an impact on water quality or flow levels, which would be protected under a wilderness designation. Beck said Utilities officials now want to know if they can get a variance that would allow for maintenance and reconstruction activities."

Category: Colorado Water

7:03:01 AM    

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