Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

Subscribe to "Colorado Water" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A picture named firstintimefirstinright.jpg

HB 07-1036 [pdf] is the subject of this article from the Sterling Journal Advocate. They write, "The sharks are circling at the Colorado Legislature around freshman Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg's bill to ban government entities from taking water rights through condemnation. The Sterling Republican said he is disappointed the Democrat leadership hasn't scheduled House floor debate on his House Bill 1036, which is opposed by two lobbying powerhouses -- the Colorado Municipal League and Denver Water. 'I wanted it to come up pretty quick while I had good support and momentum,' said Sonnenberg, who is serving his first two-year term in the Colorado Legislature. 'CML represents government entities who don't like this bill and Denver Water hates it. I think it scared them a little when it came out of committee 10-3.'

"Rep. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, one of the three 'no' votes in the House Committee of Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources, said she has asked Legislative Legal Services for an opinion on the constitutionality of Sonnenberg's bill. Hodge said that, coincidentally, the morning of last week's committee hearing, she attended a breakfast sponsored by the greenhouse industry at which state Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs spoke about eminent domain and water. 'Justice Hobbs said it was unconstitutional to take away that right (of condemnation) from home rule cities,' Hodge said. 'He said the highest and best use of water is for people to drink and there could come a time when a city may need to use eminent domain to get drinking water.' That is exactly was Sonnenberg and other of the bill's proponents fear. A constant refrain from agricultural interests, who hold the rights to about 85 percent of Colorado's water, is that their property rights are the lowest hanging fruit on the tree as cities look for water for their growing populations...

"Backers of Sonnenberg's bill include one of the Western Slope's most influential water groups -- the Colorado River Water Conservation District. The district's board of directors circulated its own letter at the Capitol urging lawmakers to support HB 1036. 'The power to condemn should be a power granted because of necessity, not of convenience,' the letter said, noting governments can enter into contracts with farmers for water banking, rotating crop management, and substitute water supply plans to free up water. 'All are viable alternatives to condemning someone else's historical water right. Bommer claimed Western Slope groups support the bill because they mistakenly believe it will prevent trans-mountain diversions of water to the Front Range. He gave the example of a Gypsum case in which the town began condemnation proceeding to protect reservoir water from crossing the Continental Divide."

Category: Colorado Water

6:11:53 AM    

A picture named howmercurypollutionspreads.jpg

The science around measuring mercury pollution from power plants is not accurate, according to the Fort Collins Weekly. From the article, "Ask managers at the Platte River Power Authority how much mercury the Rawhide coal-fired power plant releases into the atmosphere each year and it's hard to get a straight answer. One year the measurement was about 100 pounds; another year, it was over 200. John Bleem, the plant's division manager of customer and environmental service settles on 150 pounds as an average, even though the Colorado Utilities Coalition puts it closer to 170 pounds per year, making Rawhide among the top power plants in the state emitting mercury, according to the most recent data available. Bleem isn't necessarily being vague in detailing how much of the dangerous neurotoxin his plant releases into the atmosphere; like most coal-fired plant operators, it's just that he's simply not sure...

"And it also highlights how little even the utilities know about the amount of mercury is released into the environment -- new data recently collected by Xcel Energy shows that previous monitoring methods overestimated mercury releases at its Comanche plant near Pueblo, but greatly underestimated the releases at its Pawnee facility near Brush. In fact, the Brush plant was found to release three times more mercury than was reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, leading to concerns that reported emissions are inaccurate across the board. Even Bleem admits there are notable shortcomings to current monitoring methods and that his estimate of an average annual release of 150 pounds of mercury is just that -- an educated guess based on the best available information. New monitoring equipment similar to what is used by Xcel will be installed at Rawhide beginning this spring, he says, allowing plant operators to continuously monitor mercury emissions and report more accurate data...

"...burning coal produces three types of mercury -- elemental, reactive and particulate. Particulate mercury is normally captured onsite by filters and air scrubbers. Elemental mercury can indeed travel for hundreds of miles before settling on the ground and in the water, depending on climate and weather conditions. Reactive mercury falls closest to the plant. Even industry representatives estimate that as much as 15 percent of the mercury emitted from Rawhide could be reactive, based on the type of coal burned at the power plant. Regardless of which sort of mercury is most prevalent in Rawhide's exhaust plumes, there is little question that the utility -- which provides electricity to its owners, Fort Collins, Estes Park, Loveland and Longmont -- is at least partially responsible for elevated levels of mercury extending in a radius of between 30-60 miles from the plant, according to the results of a newly-released study of mercury 'hotspots' around coal-fired power plants...

"Mercury becomes a human health concern when it enters waterways. There, it changes into methyl mercury, which is absorbed by aquatic plants and plankton, which in turn are eaten by small fish. Methyl mercury bioaccumulates in fish, meaning it simply keeps adding up. This effect amplifies up the food chain, with each larger fish retaining all the mercury consumed by the smaller fish it has eaten over its lifetime."

Category: Colorado Water

6:00:17 AM    

A picture named watertreatment.jpg

The City of Craig is on the receiving end of $500,000 for "the improvement of water and wastewater facilities in counties impacted by energy exploration," according to the Craig Daily Press. From the article, "City manager Jim Ferree applied for the grant in mid-December, and the city was awarded the money in early January to use for the city's proposed water plant expansion project. [Department of Local Affairs] received 56 applications for the grant money from the 17 counties that qualify under the energy impact guidelines. The $8 million water plant expansion project broke ground three weeks ago. Completion is expected by the summer of 2008. DOLA awarded the city a $1 million grant in early 2006 and an additional $6 million will be financed through a low-interest loan from the Colorado Water Resource Power Development Authority. The loan will be repaid over 20 years. The balance is made up by water fund reserves built up over the past several years to reduce the city's debt service, Ferree said.

"The 18-month project, when completed, will take the 6 million gallons per day water facility to a 10 to 11 million gallons per day facility. Public works director Bill Earley said the reason for uncertain production numbers is due to requirements set by the government that are frequently changing."

Category: Colorado Water

5:46:01 AM    

A picture named stormwateroutlet.jpg

Colorado Springs will start sending out bills for their stormwater enterprise next month, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Category: Colorado Water

5:31:28 AM    

A picture named coalfiredpowerplant.jpg

Can we reverse the effects of humankind on the atmosphere? According to the Independent online scientists are tackling the problem with some ingenuity. From the article, "Scientists are thinking the unthinkable. What can be done to save the planet from global warming if political measures fail? If governments cannot agree on the necessary cuts in carbon-dioxide emissions, can engineering projects such as giant mirrors in space save the world?

"This week, more than 2,000 of the world's leading climate scientists will issue their formal assessment of the threat posed by rising temperatures. In its fourth report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is expected to say that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are causing average global temperatures to rise towards a tipping point where climate change will become dangerous, and potentially irreversible. The document will not look at how to mitigate climate change - that will be dealt with in a later report - but some scientists are already thinking about the kind of large engineering schemes that might have to be deployed if policies for cutting CO2 emissions get nowhere. These range from capturing it at power stations and burying it underground, to launching spacecraft loaded with reflective tinfoil to deflect solar radiation. Such mega-engineering schemes fall into two broad categories. One is aimed at curbing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, which would lessen the greenhouse effect that exacerbates global warming. The other focuses on deflecting solar radiation back into space by increasing the albedo, or reflective power, of the Earth, or by using mirrors...

"The Norwegian state oil company, Statoil, and BP already remove CO2 from North Sea gas as it emerges from the field. They then pipe it back underground to enhance further gas recovery - and reduce carbon emissions in the process. Removing CO2 post-combustion from power stations requires the fitting of 'scrubbers' to chimneys that can absorb the gas. Both are expensive. A power station with effective scrubbing technology would consume between 10 and 40 per cent more energy than one without, but such a power station could reduce its carbon emissions by up to 90 per cent. Klaus Lackner of Columbia University has proposed an extension of this idea, by dotting the landscape with windmill-like machines fitted with scrubbers that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere. The advantage of such a scheme is that it could be placed anywhere in the world - a desert rich in solar power, for example, or windy islands in the open ocean - and the technology need not be too efficient provided there are enough scrubbers to offset man-made emissions."

Meanwhile four power plant projects on tap for Colorado are expected to release as much CO2 as 2 million cars, reports the Rocky Mountain News. From the article, "The report written by environmental groups says the new and proposed plants would emit about 10.8 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, a 27 percent increase on top of the state's 2003 emissions of 39.6 million tons, the latest year for which figures were available...

"Titled Climate Alert: Cleaner Energy for the Southwest, the report from Environmental Defense and Western Resource Advocates cites more than a dozen plants that are under construction or on the drawing boards in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado. Those plants, once operating, would add nearly 70 million tons of carbon dioxide a year - equal to the tailpipe exhaust from 12.5 million cars, according to the report. New power demand should be met with energy efficiency and renewables such as solar, wind and biomass, the report says."

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

5:27:14 AM    

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2007 John Orr.
Last update: 2/1/07; 6:23:42 AM.
January 2007
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      
Dec   Feb