Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

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Unbossed: "Where do issues of water pollution, adequacy of water, the impact of rising petroleum prices, and hunger meet? Down on the farm. That's where. And here's why we need to rethink the whole way food gets to our tables...

Category: Colorado Water

8:01:10 AM    

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Every winter Coloradoans try to predict whether or not reservoirs will fill and spill come spring. This year is no different. Here's an article from the Montrose Daily Press with hope for Blue Mesa Reservoir. They write, " Blue Mesa Reservoir could come close to filling again this year if forecasts hold, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The agency hosted one of the three operation meetings that are held every year for the Wayne Aspinall Unit at the Montrose Pavilion Thursday, giving local water users its tentative forecast for spring runoff and reviewing the fall operation of the three dams that line the Gunnison River. The bureau's forecasts predicted that Blue Mesa will come within a few feet of its July target elevation of 7,517 feet. As of Wednesday, its water level sat at an elevation of 7,486 feet."

7:42:35 AM    

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Market Wire: "The Metro Wastewater Reclamation District and the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) are trying to figure out why ducks have been found dead over the past two weeks in the chlorine contact basin at the Metro District's treatment plant north of Denver. 'We initiated the call to DOW because this is such an unusual occurrence, and it's not a problem we've experienced before,' said Director of Environmental Services Steve Pearlman. Metro workers have been finding dead ducks in the chlorine contact basin for a little over two weeks. The cause of the duck deaths is not yet known."

Category: Colorado Water

7:37:26 AM    

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If you're not tired of looking at snow Coyote Gulch advises you to get on up to Breckenridge this week for the Budweiser Select International Snow Sculpture Championships. According to the Vail Daily News (free registration required), "Competitors include teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Mexico, Switzerland, Turkey and nine teams from in United States, including Breckenridge, Alaska, Colorado (Cañon City), Idaho, Minnesota, New York, Oregon and two teams from Wisconsin. The sculptors will sculpt Tuesday through Saturday before judging on Saturday. Each four-person teams is assigned a 12-foot-tall, 20-ton block of machine-made snow. These teams work within a five-day period to create sensational sculptures - sometimes enormous pieces of whimsy and sometimes with powerful political or social commentary."

Category: Colorado Water

7:33:46 AM    

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The IRS has been auditing conservation easements across the country but they seem especially diligent in Colorado, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article, "Scrutiny of conservation easements and how their tax benefits are being applied have conservation groups across the state concerned about a possible chilling effect on land preservation efforts. The Internal Revenue Service has audited 250 conservation easements around Colorado in the last two years with an eye toward determining whether the donations meet federal standards for receiving tax deductions, said Jill Ozarski, executive director of the nonprofit Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts. Audits are being conducted nationwide, Ozarski said, but the agency appears to have focused much of its efforts in Colorado, where about 1.2 million acres of land are covered by conservation easements. So far the IRS has not proposed any rule changes based on the audits, Ozarski said. Fraudulent use of conservation easements should be exposed, she said. But conservation groups are concerned landowners may be reluctant to pursue the preservation technique if its tax benefits are changed...

"Conservation easements allow property owners to keep their land but restrict how the land can be developed. Easements are held and monitored by government entities or nonprofit land trusts. Property owners receive federal tax breaks based on their incomes and the reduced market value of their land. Under federal law, a property owner may deduct a conservation-easement donation up to 50 percent of his or her income, Ozarski said. The benefit may be carried over 15 years. A law passed in October allows full-time farmers and ranchers to claim conservation-easement deductions up to 100 percent of their incomes, she said. The state also offers income tax credits on conservation easements. The landowner receives a credit for 50 percent of the market value of an easement to a maximum of $375,000, she said."

More Coyote Gulch coverage of Colorado conservation easements here.

Category: Colorado Water

7:14:11 AM    

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Well it looks like there's no chance of containing Quagga mussels to just Lake Mead. Last week divers discovered them in the intake of the Colorado River Aqueduct, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. From the article, "This week, divers discovered quagga mussels on the intake of the Colorado River Aqueduct, said Bob Muir, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies water to almost 17 million people. More mussels were discovered at the Gene Pumping Plant about 2 miles west of the aqueduct's intake. 'I'd say they're here,' Muir said. California Department of Fish and Game spokesman Steve Martarano said a single mussel also was found on Grass Island in the Colorado River about 15 miles north of Lake Havasu. State and federal officials have created a multi-agency task force to deal with the threat, he said.

"The bivalves, which are about the size of a fingernail and have no human food value, could cause widespread damage to Northern California power plants, refineries and water systems if they spread as expected. They also could doom many native species because they are extremely prolific and consume vast quantities of plankton, the basis of the aquatic food web. Though some fish and waterfowl feed on the mussels, experts don't think natural predators will significantly limit their expansion. The mollusks' intolerance for saltwater will keep them out of San Francisco Bay, but they could easily infest the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta...

"The quagga mussel, native to Ukraine, may be even more troublesome than its relative because it can tolerate deeper, colder water than the zebra mussel, meaning it can invade a wider range of environments. Quaggas were first found in the Great Lakes in 1989, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and are causing problems identical to those attributed to zebra mussels. Both species are presumed to have come into the United States in the ballast water of ships. Water delivery systems could be the mussel's main mode of transport in Southern California, but the shuttle of recreational boats between the Colorado River system and California waterways also is a likely avenue. Juvenile mussels can stow away in wet nooks and crannies, said Andrew Cohen, an environmental scientist with the San Francisco Estuary Institute...

"There is also an environmental cost exacted by the exotic mussels. Cohen said their ability to strip most of the available plankton from the water could starve some native species, particularly other mollusks and small fish. For example, the mussels could affect wild salmon populations because young salmon rely on plankton for food. And the situation could be particularly dire in the bay-delta region. An exotic bivalve known as the saltwater Asian clam already has colonized the bay to the point that it dominates the ecosystem, Cohen said...

"Ric De Leon, a microbiologist for the Metropolitan Water District, said staffers will employ a variety of methods to control the mussel, including chlorination and the use of copper sulfate, a chemical poisonous to mollusks. Drying up canals and aqueducts also will be tried. De Leon said the district had planned to drain much of the 242-mile Colorado River Aqueduct in March for maintenance work."

KOLD News Tuscon: "Divers have collected what appear to be invasive mussels in Lake Havasu and in a nearby California reservoir that holds water for delivery to Los Angeles...Officials say the mussels were discovered Wednesday on submerged cables and concrete at Lake Havasu near the Whitsitt intake facility for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California."

Category: Colorado Water

7:01:10 AM    

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