Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

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Colorado Springs Utilities has issued written rules detailing access to the south side of Pikes Peak, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article, "Outdoor groups are crying foul over Colorado Springs Utilities' proposed rules for access to the city's 28 reservoirs, complaining there won't be any access to the South Slope of Pikes Peak. Last week the city-owned utility unveiled a draft watershed access policy designed to protect the city's water supply. The plan divides watersheds into three zones: zones closed to the public, zones open to the public and trail corridors through closed zones. City officials fear a fire on the South Slope could cause massive pollution to small reservoirs - pollution that would take years to reverse, because there would be no way to quickly flush out the little lakes...

"At the heart of the access issue is the South Slope watershed, a 45,000-acre basin on the south side of Pikes Peak that has been off-limits since 1913. Access to the South Slope dominated conversation at a Nov. 28 public meeting when the draft access plan was first revealed to the public. For years, groups of citizens have campaigned for various levels of recreation in the area, from foot trails to fishing to motorized access. Recreation advocates have noted other utilities, including in Denver, opened watersheds to recreation long ago and that the city's North Slope reservoirs have been open to the public for years without problems. Maps in the newly released draft plan show no access to the South Slope...

"The utility must be conservative about access to South Slope watersheds, said Berry, citing three reasons: The reservoirs contain 20 percent of the city's water and increased human contact could contaminate them; Human-caused wildfires could cause severe erosion that would cripple the area's water-storage ability, as the Hayman fire did to Denver's Cheesman Reservoir; The area has several sensitive species, including greenback cutthroat trout and the Pikes Peak parsley, that could be damaged by human contact."

Category: Colorado Water

6:14:33 AM    

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You can almost feel the love between Kansas and Colorado over water in the Arkansas River, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "Cooperation between Kansas and Colorado will go a long way toward preventing future legal entanglements, members of the Arkansas River Compact Administration said Tuesday. 'We've gone a long way this year toward resolving issues, and the credit has to go to both states,' said Chairman Robert Jennison of Healy, Kan. Representatives from both states agreed. Lawyers on both sides said U.S. Supreme Court Special Master Arthur Littleworth is close to ruling on a proposed final decree. A special engineering committee resolved several issues about operations at John Martin Reservoir. Kansas even voiced strong support of a tamarisk-control project being spearheaded by the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District. 'If we had a process like this in place earlier, we might have avoided the pain and anguish of the past decade,' said Rod Kuharich, executive director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board and chairman of Colorado's delegation on the compact...

"The board administers the compact, signed in 1949, but issues on how the states share water from the river go back more than a century. In 1986, Kansas filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court claiming Colorado violated the compact. In 1995, the court found Colorado well-pumping violated the compact, after ruling earlier against Kansas claims on Trinidad Reservoir and the winter water storage program. During the past year, Colorado paid an additional $1.1 million to Kansas, on top of the $34.6 million settlement in 2005. The money was less than the $10 million Kansas had requested for expert witness fees and other costs associated with the Supreme Court case...

"The administration voted to continue a special engineering committee that resolved four issues of how water is stored at John Martin Reservoir. Those issues are: How the evaporation rate on the permanent pool will be established; How storage accounts for winter water storage are charged; How transfers are made to certain storage accounts; How spills from John Martin will be accounted for between the two states."

Category: Colorado Water

5:59:26 AM    

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Coyote Gulch loves the science around water issues. Here's a report about declines in fresh water from Reuters. Scientists are using two orbiting satellites from the, Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), to measure water around the planet.

From the article, "A pair of orbiting satellites have surveyed the Earth's water in unprecedented detail, showing sharp decreases in parts of Africa over the past five years, scientists said on Tuesday. 'This is the first time we have been able to track these variations," Jay Famiglietti, an Earth system sciences professor at the University of California, Irvine, told the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. 'It's a very sensitive indicator of climate change.' By detecting the gravitation pull of water, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, launched in 2002, measures water both above and below the Earth's surface, amounts that are in constant flux. The nearly five-year-old partnership between NASA and the German Aerospace Center has found that over a three-year period water storage along the Congo River Basin has decreased by nearly double the amount Africans consume annually, excluding irrigation, Famiglietti said. The GRACE data also found drying along the Zambezi and Nile basins in Africa, and increases along the American Mississippi and Colorado River basins."

Category: Colorado Water

5:46:14 AM    

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