Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

We started a long publishing process this morning, in a bit of a panic. If you're reading this some of today's stuff just made it to the web, including categories. Radio Userland is cool software most of the time but we'd like a way to stop some processes.

5:52:48 PM    

Time: "The Democrats' New Western stars." Thanks to for the link.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:58:02 AM    

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Here's a press release dealing with climate change from the Natural Resources Defense Council. They write, "After a year of collaboration and dialogue, our organizations have arrived at a set of principles and policy recommendations to address global warming. Ours is a unique and diverse group, which is united in the belief that we can, and must, take prompt action to establish a coordinated, economy-wide, market-driven approach to climate protection. The members of the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) are committed to action and believe that properly constructed policy can be economically viable, environmentally responsible, and politically achievable. Swift legislative action on our proposal would encourage innovation and provide needed U.S. leadership on this global challenge. Our goal is to help our nation create public policy that would act aggressively and sustainably to slow, stop and reverse the growth of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions."

Thanks to beSpacific for the link.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:54:36 AM    

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The Cherry Creek News is running a story on the potential for geothermal energy to help satisfy U.S. energy requirements. From the article, "A comprehensive new MIT-led study of the potential for geothermal energy within the United States has found that mining the huge amounts of heat that reside as stored thermal energy in the Earth's hard rock crust could supply a substantial portion of the electricity the United States will need in the future, probably at competitive prices and with minimal environmental impact.

"An 18-member panel led by MIT prepared the 400-plus page study, titled The Future of Geothermal Energy. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, it is the first study in some 30 years to take a new look at geothermal, an energy resource that has been largely ignored. The goal of the study was to assess the feasibility, potential environmental impacts and economic viability of using enhanced geothermal system (EGS) technology to greatly increase the fraction of the U.S. geothermal resource that could be recovered commercially. Although geothermal energy is produced commercially today and the United States is the world's biggest producer, existing U.S. plants have focused on the high-grade geothermal systems primarily located in isolated regions of the west. This new study takes a more ambitious look at this resource and evaluates its potential for much larger-scale deployment."

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:44:46 AM    

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Here's an update on the experiments using algae to produce biodiesel up at CSU from From the article, "Fortunately, [Jim Sears] says, an unconventional crop could produce 100 times more biodiesel per hectare than either canola or soy. It can thrive in places where other crops can't grow at all, and it only requires the equivalent of 5 centimeters of rain a year. It's algae, a small but familiar plant, usually seen as a green scum that forms on ponds or aquarium glass. To demonstrate his crop's potential, Sears leads the way inside a former coal-fired electric power plant, now the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory at Colorado State University. CSU and Sears' small company, Solix Biofuels, have teamed up for this research. Sears passes a two-story tall engine that may soon be running on his biodiesel, and heads to a quieter room where test batches of algae grow in glass beakers. The water ranges from pale yellow to soft Irish green, thanks to millions of microscopic algae...

"For industrial production, the researchers are designing enormous growing troughs, wider than two trucks side by side, as long as a football field, and grouped by the thousands around processing plants. In this way, Sears says, algae could supply all the U.S. diesel power on a fraction of the nation's farmland, just one percent of the 400 million hectares now under cultivation. 'Actually we wouldn't have to convert any of our arable land,' he observes. 'We could use desert land to grow this algae. It doesn't require good soil. Just flat land, carbon dioxide and sunlight.' Sears envisions harvesting energy from fields of algae growing troughs Carbon dioxide helps algae grow fast and fat, so the team plans to siphon it from fossil fuel power plant exhaust, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And Sears says there are other ways to get the gas. 'It would actually start with biomass such as switch grass or wood, where in some countries are the only type of fuel that they have anyway. In that case, the grass, the trees, the wood is pulling the carbon dioxide out of the air, then we burn it as fuel and feed the carbon dioxide to the algae.' He stresses that no carbon will be added to the atmosphere during all these energy conversion steps, making biofuel from algae is a truly carbon-neutral technology. 'It's essentially solar powered fuel.' To conserve water, the growing troughs are sealed. The algae grows under a clear plastic lid that allows in plenty of sunlight, but keeps the water the plants are floating in from evaporating. 'It is about 1,000 times more efficient to produce fuel from algae than it is from an irrigated crop,' Sears says. 'There's enough water even in the desert from natural rainfall to support this technology.'"

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:06:08 AM    

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Here's an update about Aurora's Prairie Waters Project from the Denver Post. They write, "In three years, residents of the Denver metro area's second-largest municipality will get recycled water out of their taps. The city's $754 million Prairie Waters Project will draw South Platte River water downstream from the Denver Metro Wastewater Reclamation District's plant. The river water will be sent through sand and charcoal filters, treated with chemicals and zapped with ultraviolet light...

"The water will be pulled from the river near Brighton, sent 34 miles south to Aurora, treated in the 40-day, six-step process, and ultimately blended with the mountain water. Prairie Waters was created when the city faced the risk of running out of water in 2003 after a persistent drought...

"Environmental groups are still scrutinizing Prairie Waters but have given their initial approval. 'This is a progressive way to meet new water needs,' said Bart Miller, water program manager for Western Resource Advocates. 'We're very encouraged because of what it's not doing - another transmountain diversion.' The project is slated to be completed in 2010, boosting the city's water supply by 20 percent. The city's 300,000 customers are already picking up the tab, paying an average of 12 percent more on their bills this year and an additional 12 percent next year. Tap fees have risen from $6,711 per home to $16,641. Aurora also plans to sell bonds later this year for the project...

"The goal is to make the reused water indistinguishable from the current supply. Aurora's water currently has a total dissolved-solids concentration of 200 parts per million. Officials want Prairie Waters to produce water with a maximum of 400 parts per million TDS concentration - which they say cannot be detected."

Category: Colorado Water

5:50:46 AM    

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Global climate change experts are releasing the first part of a new report next week, according to Ireland online. From the article, "The first phase of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is being released in Paris next week. The segment, written by more than 600 scientists and reviewed by another 600 experts and edited by bureaucrats from 154 countries, includes 'a significantly expanded discussion of observation on the climate', said co-chairman Susan Solomon, a senior scientist for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She and other scientists held a telephone briefing on the report yesterday. That report would feature an 'explosion of new data' on observations of current global warming, Solomon said. Solomon and others would not go into specifics about what the report said. They said that the 12-page summary for policymakers would be edited in secret word-by-word by governments' officials for several days next week and released to the public on February 2."

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

5:33:50 AM    

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Denver Water and Xcel's agreement about the operation of the Shoshone hydroelectric plant is causing consternation on the west slope. Here are some details of the proposed operation and some of the objections from the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (free registration required). From the article, "Some Western Slope water users worry that an agreement between Xcel Energy and the Denver Water Board to reduce the amount of water driving the Shoshone Hydroelectric Plant in Glenwood Canyon and a provision to extend the 'relaxation' of water flows beyond the originally agreed upon deadline of May 20 could harm downstream communities. Participants at the Colorado River Basin round table meeting Monday heard a representative of Denver Water say any extension of the reduced flow past a May 5 deadline would happen only if the Western Slope agrees. Denver Water spokesman Bill Bates said the agreement calls for the reduction between March 20 and May 20, and only when there is less than 80 percent of normal water storage in Denver reservoirs on the Western Slope in a given year and 85 percent of normal snowpack. Under the terms of the agreement, Xcel would release part of the water it uses to run Shoshone, enabling Denver to store more water from the Colorado River in upstream reservoirs, such as Wolford Mountain and Dillon. Xcel would not give up its senior right or call, one of the oldest on the upper Colorado River, but would take less than it is entitled to, enough to run only one of two turbines, or 704 cubic feet per second. That would give Denver a chance to fill its reservoirs during spring runoff. Denver in turn would compensate Xcel for the lost revenue and make some of its extra stored water available later in the year...

"Rifle public works director Bill Sappington said decreasing the flows in the Colorado River will have an impact on Rifle's water quality. 'We feel this is not a win-win for the West Slope and the Front Range,' he said. Rifle is now taking water out of the river for domestic use 'that's a mixture of snowmelt and sewage return flow,' he said. The city worries about that mix becoming more sewage effluent and less natural water if natural flows are reduced."

Category: Colorado Water

5:26:01 AM    

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