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

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Friday, October 5, 2007

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Congratulations to Fort Collins Utilities. They've won the Bronze Achievement Award from the state health department's Environmental Leadership program, according to The Greeley Tribune. From the article:

The Fort Collins Utilities Water Treatment Facility will be awarded the Bronze Achieve Award from the state health department's Environmental Leadership program today. The award is given to an entity that makes a "significant achievement(s) in improving the environment of Colorado," according to a city press release. The water treatment plant was nominated for improvements in drinking water treatment and distribution processes. The utility was one of six in the state nominated for an award administered by the Colorado Drinking Water Excellence Program, and all six are national award-winning public water systems active in the Partnership for Safe Water, an initiative that strives to improve water quality through flexible technical tools that require little capital investment and allow the utilities to set their own pace.

Category: Colorado Water

7:19:14 AM    

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Landowners near LaPorte are keeping an eye on a proposed water pipeline between Bellvue and Greeley, according to The Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

The proposed route for a 60-inch pipeline that would carry drinking water from Bellvue to Greeley drew a chilly response Tuesday from some local property owners whose land could be traversed by the pipe. About 40 people turned out for an open house on the LaPorte segment of the 30-mile pipeline at Cache la Poudre Junior High School. Greeley officials say the city needs the additional water for growth. The proposed route would run from Greeley's water treatment plant near the mouth of Poudre Canyon to Shields Street, where it would connect with the path of an existing pipeline. Along the way the pipe would parallel the Poudre River before heading straight east and following a route about a half-mile south of Larimer County Road 54G.

The pipeline would cut across pastures that could someday be developed with housing or gravel mines or left as open space, said Rose Brinks, whose 115-acre farm is along the proposed route. "We want to see this go to the north, way north," she said. "Let them spend more money. We'll hold bake sales here in LaPorte if it will help them." Greeley officials have not been clear on how much compensation landowners would get for the use of their property, she said. Project manager Dan Moore said the route has to be reviewed by the Larimer County Planning Commission to ensure it fits in with the county master plan. A hearing on the proposal is scheduled Oct. 17...

Greeley has been working on the project since 2003. Segments of pipeline between Gold Hill Reservoir in west Greeley and Windsor and Timnath are complete. Project managers are working with Fort Collins officials on the final design and route for the pipeline through the city. Construction would be coordinated with other projects, such as drainage improvements along Dry Creek and the proposed realignment of Vine Drive. So far the line has been taken through relatively undeveloped areas, Moore said. Greeley has condemnation authority to put the pipeline through, but out of the 48 property owners the city has dealt with so far, the city has used the power with two properties, Moore said.

Category: Colorado Water

7:10:47 AM    

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Here's a look at a water education program at Cache la Poudre elementary school, from The Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

Fifth-grader Brittany Bigge sat at the edge of the Poudre River on Tuesday afternoon as her classmates waded through the flowing water with thermometers, meter sticks and measuring tape in their hands. "You get to do all this by yourself and figure it out," she said. "Our backyard is the river, so it's really cool." Bigge and fifth-graders from Cache La Poudre Elementary School are learning about how water velocity, temperature and depth changes throughout the year using the Poudre River, which flows behind their school, as their model...

This is the fifth year students have trekked down to the Poudre to measure water data. In cooperation with Fort Collins Utilities' WaterSHED (Stormwater Habitat Education and Development) program, students, called the Stream Team, take measurements on the first Tuesday of every month to better understand how rain or snowmelt might affect the river. "We're lucky because we have a river near us that we can tie into math and science," said Mike Mosley, a fifth-grade teacher at Cache La Poudre. "We'll take this class's data and compare it to last year's. It was interesting when we had the blizzard to talk about how that affects the water levels." The school's attendance area includes neighborhoods that sit along the Poudre River. "With these kids living so close to the mountains, they get to see how the river changes over the course of the year," said Payton Schneider, a fifth-grade teacher at Cache La Poudre.

Category: Colorado Water

7:04:24 AM    

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From The Leadville Herald, "State Representative Dan Gibbs (D-Lake County) has joined the landmark Colorado Interbasin Water Compact Committee. Gibbs was appointed by State Representative Kathleen Curry, a Gunnison rancher and chairwoman of the Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources Committee. Gibbs is the only House member on the committee."

Category: Colorado Water

6:54:54 AM    

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Here's a recap of this week's Chamber of Commerce meeting in Colorado Springs where the discussion centered around the proposed Southern Delivery System, from The Colorado Springs Independent. From the article:

Tuesday morning's meeting about the city's proposed Southern Delivery System started on a light note, and more or less stayed there. Jerry Forte drew laughs after he was introduced as the "esteemed" chief executive officer of Colorado Springs Utilities. "We haven't been called that very much," Forte told the group at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast for local residents and business folk. He then launched into the morning's meat and potatoes. Looking out for the city's long-term water supply, Forte said, is one of the "most critical things we face." A pipeline tapping into Arkansas River water could mean the difference between success and failure coping with the city's growth. "It's really about water we already own," Forte said. But ownership has done little to sweeten Pueblo's perception of SDS. Many residents resent giving up clean water out of Pueblo Reservoir and getting back an ever-increasing flow of treated effluent down the tortured banks of Fountain Creek...

The preferred plan is laying a 66-inch pipe from the reservoir that could carry nearly 80 million gallons a day to serve the needs of Colorado Springs, Fountain and Security. With a new treatment plant and two planned reservoirs, the total cost in 40 years would reach about $1.07 billion, with $670 million more needed to operate and maintain the system during that time. A draft environmental impact statement for the project is due early next year, followed by public comment. If all goes well, McCormick said, the system should be in place by 2012.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:34:39 AM    

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Here's a recap of last week's Colorado Ground Water Management Policy: Focus on Legal and Institutional Opportunities for Aquifer Recharge and Storage conference in Colorado Springs, from The Brighton Standard Blade. From the article:

The conference focused on the legal and institutional issues surrounding recharging of the state's aquifers, from which more than 2 million acre [feet] of water is pumped each year. More than 75 percent is used for irrigating crops...

Several speakers noted the current adversarial climate in which every drop of water is subject to Colorado's 130-year-old doctrine of prior appropriation. "We need to stop this confrontational approach and say 'OK, what's possible,'" said Fred Anderson of Loveland. "We have to give up some of our turf issues." Anderson was president of the Colorado Senate in 1969 when he authored the Water Rights Administration and Determination Act, which forced wells drilled into groundwater to get into line for decreed water rights...

One panel of attorneys discussed such issues as the environmental consequences of groundwater depletions and recharge, whether aquifers can be used as underground storage of water for future use, and how can movement of water in alluvial aquifers into such rivers as the South Platte be measured...

[Joe Frank, general manager of the Sterling-based South Platte Water Conservancy District] said the prolific use of augmentation wells and recharge ponds lowers the costs of irrigation water and reduces water loss from evaporation off surface reservoirs.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:19:37 AM    

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Here's an update on the regulatory agency roles for Powertech's proposed uranium mining operation in Weld County, from The Northern Colorado Business Journal. From the article:

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources' Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety Public Health will be the primary regulatory agency responsible for permitting and regulating the extraction of uranium in the state, including the proposed Powertech USA Centennial Project in northwestern Weld County. The state issued a report clarifying the responsibilities of various state and federal regulatory agencies during the permit application process for an in-situ uranium extraction operation, as has been proposed by Powertech...

The regulatory process also involves the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which will rule on air and water quality permits that may be needed and on the handling of radioactive materials, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which will review the injection process for the possibility of drinking water contamination.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:09:53 AM    

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The state of Colorado is set to mandate new water temperature rules for streams to protect aquatic wildlife, according to The Summit Daily News (free registration required). From the article:

Along with monitoring concentrations of toxic pollutants like heavy metals from leaky mines, local streams will also soon be subject to strict temperature standards. After a rigorous scientific process, the state is adopting new rules to protect fish and other aquatic life by setting maximum temperatures. The idea is to make sure that impacts like discharges from water treatment plants and urban runoff don't kill fish, or impair their ability to reproduce. Temperature standards are important because the body temperature of fish basically matches the temperature of the surrounding water, said U.S. Geological Survey research biologist Andrew Todd.

Trout and other species have evolved and spawn under very specific temperature conditions and don't have a mechanism to adapt to temperature changes in the short-term, Todd said, speaking Wednesday during a water quality summit in Breckenridge. "When we introduce heat, we disrupt metabolic and reproductive functions," Todd said. A number of factors can affect stream temperatures, including sunshine, shading from stream-side vegetation, stream flows and water quantity, as well as direct discharges from point sources like factories and treatment plants. The latter are less of a factor in the High Country, but increased urbanization around local streams and runoff from paved areas, as well as diversions for snowmaking and other needs, could conceivably influence water temperature in Summit County.

The biggest wild card in the deck is air temperature, which is beyond human control. Given recent climbing temperature trends associated with climate change, it's not clear how the state's new rules will be effective in stemming any potential impacts from global warming. But as they now stand, the temperature standards are stringent enough to protect even cutthroat trout, most sensitive of the trout species. "Cutthroat trout drove the setting of the table-value standards," Todd said, adding that 85 percent of the state's cold-water streams qualify as cutthroat trout habitat...

The new temperature limits were determined after scrutinizing hundreds of scientific studies based mainly on laboratory work. Todd said the rules include criteria for acute conditions (peak temperatures that can kill fish within days), and for chronic conditions -- warm temperatures that, over a longer period, can impair reproduction and growth. The limits also take into account seasonal spawning requirements and are broken down for different types of fisheries, from high mountain trout streams to lowland ponds and rivers with habitat for completely different species. The rules cover eight cold-water species and 43 warm-water species.

Category: Colorado Water

6:03:22 AM    

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It's the time of year to declare war on tamarisk. Here's a look at tamarisk eradication efforts in western Colorado from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

Wearing hard hats, heavy gloves and work boots, two teens and one young adult struggled Thursday to keep their footing on the steep banks of the Colorado River. Of the three, Molly Magnuson, 26, wearing safety goggles, had the biggest smile on her face -- she was holding the chain saw. "We have a 90 percent kill rate," she said with a smile and a hearty "rrrrr" of the chain saw. The group, associated with the Western Colorado Conservation Corps, was slashing its way through thick gobs of water-hungry tamarisk. The nonnative species has gained a strong foothold in western Colorado, thriving along the banks of rivers, cluttering shorelines and killing native species...

Just last week, representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers met with an array of people representing different organizations -- the Tamarisk Coalition, city of Grand Junction, Mesa County, Bureau of Land Management and others -- to discuss the latest advances in the third year of a decade-long project. The goal is to eradicate tamarisk and Russian olive from a 50-mile stretch of the Colorado River from the Utah state line to Palisade. Continued funding of the project, which to date has surveyed the problem areas and completed a feasibility study, is dependent upon continued federal funding. "This will be no small project," Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said. "The partners envision about a $7 million project that will take place over several years."[...]

The coalition, with an annual $150,000 yearly budget, provides education, technical support and coordination for groups fighting the invading plants. But another wave of help is on the way. A tiny beetle is being deployed in Colorado. The tamarisk leaf beetle was introduced to Colorado in the Pueblo area in 2001, and they now are being deployed in about six sites here in Mesa County, Heideman said. The critters love the tamarisk leafs, and after several seasons of feasting on new growths, the tamarisk is nearly eradicated. "It helps reduce the cost of control," he said. "We'll probably never eradicate it, just control it so it is a manageable issue." Anyone wanting to learn more about the project can attend the Tamarisk Symposium, Oct. 24 and 25 at the Two Rivers Convention Center. For more information about the symposium, go to or call 244-1834.

Here's an article about tamarisk control in southwestern Colorado from The Cortez Journal. From the article:

After several years of hard work, Steve Miles and the Dolores Tamarisk Action Group are starting to see what they like: dying tamarisk. And Miles hopes to see that trend continue. "I really think we are going to see the end of tamarisk," Miles said. "Ten years from now, we will be worrying about Russian olives."[...]

Tamarisk is estimated to cover 10,000 acres in Montezuma County, and the Dolores Tamarisk Action Group is doing several things to combat that. Landowners in the county likely will get a brochure mailed to their homes this month that details exactly what tamarisk is and how best to get rid of it. The group has also spent the summer recording the tamarisk along the upper McElmo drainage, which begins just below Mesa Verde and travels near the Montezuma County Fairgrounds and to McElmo Creek, Miles said...

The best time for landowners to treat their tamarisk is in November and December, when the plant is dormant, he said. One of the more exciting developments in the battle against tamarisk is the tamarisk leaf beetle. The highly-selective insect was released in Moab in 2005. Researchers there are starting to see tamarisk die off, and the beetles have made their way into Colorado...Miles said that next year, the group has received permission to release the beetle in Montezuma County.

Here's an article about tamarisk control in southeastern Colorado from The Bent County Democrat. From the article:

A small army of volunteers waged war on the tamarisk infestation along the Purgatorie River south of Las Animas last weekend. The workers made a big dent in the tamarisk, Russian olive and Siberian elm -- taking out about half of the 30-acre target area in two days. "I hate tamarisk, I have professional and personal reasons," said Eric Lane, the former Colorado weed coordinator. "I would say the lower Arkansas has the worst infestation in Colorado," Lane explained Saturday afternoon after a hard day's work on the work site...

The insectory at Palisade is also working with another beetle that comes from Greece. Lane said Colorado's legislature funded the insectory in 1992. He thinks the state may have better resources for developing bio-controls than many other states. He said tamarisk-devouring beetles have already been placed near Dinosaur National Monument and on the lower Colorado River. "They are getting to a critical mass where they are at the stage for exponential growth." Lane added that some of the beetles imported so far come from a higher latitude than southern Colorado, so some more beetles have been collected from a lower latitude in China as part of the research. He said beetles released in Utah are already infiltrating into western Colorado -- "which is terrific."[...]

Martinez said 62 volunteers showed up for the Boggsville volunteer effort. He said 47 different project days in the state this year will draw an estimated 3,000 volunteers. Last year, one of the volunteer projects was at Picketwire Canyon. Six of the volunteers were Colorado Range Riders, the Colorado youth corps. Jessie Henderson, who's also education, training and development coordinator for Range Riders, said his crew spent 10 days training at a tamarisk site at John Martin State Park before they came to Boggsville.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

5:53:23 AM    

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Members of the Fountain Creek Task Force committee looking at long term governance solutions for Fountain Creek were briefed this week by the consultant they hired, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

It could take a combination of some sort of government authority and nonprofit foundation to fix the Fountain, a panel looking into financing improvements on Fountain Creek learned Thursday. Similar efforts to improve water quality in a basin have been in place for years on Cherry Creek and the South Platte River to the north, and could serve as a template for improvement on Fountain Creek as well, said Merle Grimes, a consultant just beginning to study the Fountain...

Grimes outlined several models, including flood control districts created by the Legislature, special districts created by a vote of property owners, associations of governments, nonprofit and volunteer groups. A well-funded district is needed to provide major projects, while a nonprofit agency can gather private support or resources, he said...

"There's a difference between getting a project built and the entity that manages it after it's built," said Gary Barber, representing the El Paso County Water Authority. Barber presented a matrix designed to identify which agencies are concerned with issues ranging from water quality or quantity to parks or trails. The group agreed to get feedback to see where a Fountain Creek Authority might be most useful. Barber also presented some practical advice for forming a special district, based on his own experience in organizing one to improve the Fountain Mutual Ditch to encompass flood control as well as water supply...

The Corps will complete a study of Fountain Creek flooding, erosion and sedimentation next year, and its initial suggestions include looking at a dam on Fountain Creek, as well as smaller projects at key points throughout the watershed. However, the Corps and the Fountain Creek Watershed Plan Technical Advisory Committee are still trying to finalize objectives...

Grimes presented a multi-layered approach to watershed improvement in the South Platte River basin: The Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, formed in 1969 by the Legislature, taxes all property owners 1 mill and generates more than $22 million annually. Initially, its focus was on Adams County, which suffered from changes in the watershed caused by growth in Denver. Over time, other benefits have been spread equally throughout the watershed.

The Cherry Creek Watershed Authority was formed by lawmakers in 2001 and looks at water quality, primarily reducing phosphorus, in its watershed. The Chatfield Water Authority also looks at water quality, but was formed by intergovernmental agreement. Special districts, for everything from fire protection to sanitation, are formed through district courts and elections and could serve as a way to raise local funds. Water Conservation Districts - three already exist in the state - are formed through legislative action and election and are one way to incorporate more than one county in a governmental body.

The Greenway Foundation works along with the Urban Drainage district, raising funds from the private sector to supplement government money, raising about $1 million per year. It serves as a river advocate through education or public events. In some cases the foundation actually manages projects, sometimes at lower cost than is possible through government, Grimes said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

5:42:30 AM    

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