Coyote Gulch's Colorado Water
The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land. -- Luna Leopold

Subscribe to "Coyote Gulch's 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.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A picture named nisp.jpg

Save the Poudre wants a longer comment period for everybody to peruse the Corps of Engineers environmental impact statement for the Northern Integrated Supply Project, according to The Greeley Tribune (free registration required). From the article:

Saying that the threats to the Poudre River posed by the Northern Integrated Supply Project are as dire to the environment in northern Colorado as those posed by a uranium mine to be located near Nunn, members of Save the Poudre have lobbied the state's congressional delegation for a doubling of the public comment period on the project. The comment period will begin once the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers releases its Environmental Impact Study of the project sometime in the next few months. Typically, it is 90 days. Save the Poudre, which has opposed the project since its inception, is asking for a six month public comment period.

The request for more time was made by Gary Wockner and Mark Easter last month when they went to Washington, D. C. to lobby for river issues with the national group American Rivers. The visit was part of the group's opposition to NISP, a $400 million water storage project that will create two new reservoirs, Glade and Galeton, and yield about 40,000 acre-feet of water per year to NISP's 15-member communities. Opponents say taking water out of the Poudre to fill the reservoirs would damage the ecosystem, which relies on peak-flow years to stay viable.

Wockner and Easter met with staff members for Reps. Marilyn Musgrave, Mark Udall, John Salazar, Diana Degette and Ed Perlmutter; and Sens. Ken Salazar and Wayne Allard...

Save the Poudre plans to have the EIS evaluated by "scientific and legal professionals" and wants enough time to adequately study the document.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water

9:12:29 PM    

A picture named highmeadow.jpg

Colorado Trout Unlimited is calling on Governor Ritter to support the Clean Water Restoration Act [pdf], according to The Summit Daily News (free registration required). From the article:

New rules outlining federal control over impacts to wetlands have caused one environmental group to write a letter to Governor Ritter. Only about 25 percent of the state's streams and rivers flow year-round, while the rest are seasonal. Along with isolated wetlands, they could be completely stripped of protection under the new rules, Trout Unlimited wrote in July, calling on Ritter to support the federal Clean Water Restoration Act. The bill would offer crucial protection for streams and wetlands. especially in arid states like Colorado, according to Trout Unlimited...

At issue is whether the Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction over seasonal streams that aren't directly connected to "navigable" waterways. In a 2001 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court set new standards, essentially requiring federal agencies to consider whether a wetland or stream has a direct connection to interstate commerce. That could call into question the Corp's ability to regulate impacts to isolated beaver ponds around areas like Montezuma or willow wetlands in the headwaters of the Blue River, south of Breckenridge.

In Summit County, "the next navigable river is the Colorado at Grand Junction," [ Colorado Trout Unlimited executive director Dave Nickum] said. In his eyes, the new guidance places the burden on federal agencies to prove that "impacts to a single draw don't affect water quality downstream." As they stood before the guidance was issued, federal wetlands rules have been a "cornerstone" of the cuntry's modern environmental protection programs. At worst, the new rules would also cut or eliminate environmental reviews and public involvement on decisions affecting wetlands, Nickum said. One solution might come from Congress, which is considering a Clean Water Restoration Act. The bill would remove the word "navigable" to clarify that the Clean Water Act is principally intended to protect the nation's waters from pollution, and not just maintain navigability. The legislation would restore the regulatory status quo prior to the SWANCC ruling; it does not create "new" protective authority. The bill has been languishing in committee for several years, but has strong support from the environmental community.

Category: Colorado Water

6:12:02 AM    

A picture named grandmesa.gif

Here's an update about drilling for oil and gas in the Grand Junction and Palisade watersheds from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

Genesis Gas and Oil has had control over its natural gas leases in the Grand Junction and Palisade municipal watersheds on Grand Mesa for a month now, but the company is showing little interest in drilling them. When the Bureau of Land Management granted Genesis leases on 765 acres within Grand Junction's watershed and 11,280 acres within Palisade's watershed in 2006, the agency suspended the leases for a year, giving the company time to create a plan with the communities that would try to assure them drilling won't harm their water supplies. The BLM lifted the suspension on the leases Sept. 1, allowing Genesis to apply for permits necessary to explore for natural gas. So far, Genesis has filed no permit applications with the BLM, and drilling could be years away. "We're still doing in-house evaluation," Genesis Vice President Bob Behner said Wednesday. "My guess is we'll do something out there in the next year. My guess is it wouldn't be in the watersheds." Chances are, he said, Genesis would make moves toward exploring for natural gas on BLM land outside the watersheds...

Before Genesis can drill the watersheds, it must file an application for a permit to drill with the BLM, the approval process for which can take as much as a year or longer, BLM spokeswoman Mel Lloyd said. The agency would conduct an environmental assessment on the potential drilling permit, and the public may be invited to comment, she said. "If we're talking about Genesis and development within the watershed, that's going to be treated with sensitivity to the communities, and nothing's going to get rushed or even (have) the appearance of being rushed," Lloyd said. Genesis' inaction since its lease suspension was lifted surprised few Wednesday. "From the start, they said they would probably start east of the watershed," Palisade Town Manager Tim Sarmo said. Bill Grant, president of Western Colorado Congress, called Genesis' plans good news. "I think every day that watershed is not drilled is a day gained," he said. "Ultimately, we still hope to prevent drilling in the watershed."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

5:59:02 AM    

A picture named coriverwatershed.jpg

Arizona is balking at proposed changes to the agreement for drought managment hammered out by the seven states that are parties to the Colorado River Compact, according to The Arizona Republic. From the article:

Arizona balked Wednesday at proposed changes to a Colorado River drought plan and appealed to the federal government to settle the dispute or delay approval of the plan. In a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and the other six states that take water from the Colorado River, Arizona officials said attempts to rewrite an agreement reached earlier this year put Arizona's share of the river at an unacceptable risk...

The request for federal mediation could upset an already-tenuous peace among the seven states, which negotiated for more than two years over how to manage the river in times of drought. The states' version was undergoing a final review, and Kempthorne was expected to approve it in December...

[Herb Guenther, director of the state Department of Water Resources] said a delay could help the states produce a better operating plan and, in turn, ward off future lawsuits. "We think the whole process is moving too quickly," he said. "We're not giving enough time to seriously resolve this particular issue. It would be our feeling that it would not hurt to slow the process down a little and give the negotiations a chance to succeed."[...]

[Robert Johnson, commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation] said the bureau had been working with the states for the past two months to resolve the differences and even delayed release of the final environmental-impact statement on the operating plan. He said he will meet with representatives from the states this week, "however, time is short."[...]

Arizona identified several concerns about the agreement in its letter, but the dispute hangs mostly on proposed changes to the way the states manage water in Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the two largest storage reservoirs on the Colorado River. Under the proposed drought plan, shortages are triggered by water levels in Lake Mead, which stores water for Arizona, Nevada and California. As the lake level declines, the size of the water shortages grows, which is why the three lower-river states have proposed ideas to increase storage. Arizona would feel the main brunt of any shortage because it gave up legal seniority to part of its allocation in exchange for the Central Arizona Project Canal, which delivers water to Phoenix and Tucson. The water in that canal is the first to be cut off in a shortage. The agreement called for a system of balancing the water in Mead and Powell, which store water on behalf of the upper-basin states of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico. Those states fear that if Powell drops too low, they could suffer shortages. Arizona argues that the upper-basin states tried to rewrite the formula for balancing water in the two reservoirs, producing rules that could create a shortage on Lake Mead even when ample water remained in Lake Powell. "It's a scenario that may never develop," Guenther said. "But it could happen. And if it did, we don't feel it would be appropriate to short Arizona water users when there was water in Lake Powell."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

5:48:15 AM    

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2007 John Orr.
Last update: 11/1/07; 6:29:10 AM.
October 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      
Sep   Nov