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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Sunday, October 7, 2007

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This month's article for Colorado Central Magazine is up now at their website. Here are the Coyote Gulch links we used for reference.

Category: Colorado Water

11:27:36 AM    

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It looks like Delta has put the kibosh on their participating in a proposed regional wastewater treatment plant, according to The Delta County Independent. From the article:

Because of the almost $90 million price tag in today's dollars, the City of Delta isn't likely to participate in a regional sewer as outlined in a recent feasibility study. Two city officials, Lanny Sloan, city manager, and Steve Glammeyer, assistant city manager, told the Board of County Commissioners at a Monday meeting that Delta could expand its own sewer plant for far less money than participation in the regional sewer idea would cost. "It would be difficult for the city to be a part of that (regional concept)," Glammeyer said. He explained the city's sewer treatment plant is running at about 60 percent of capacity now. An investment of $10 million in its own wastewater treatment facility would buy Delta far more for the money than a $20 to $30 million investment in a regional system, he said. "The city has the land for expansion of its existing plant," Sloan said.

County planners have been wanting a definitive answer on the regional sewer concept in order to gauge how to deal with its own growth pressures in the unincorporated areas. The county is feeling subdivision growth pressure particularly in the G Road and G50 Road corridors, in Peach Valley, and on Ash and California mesas, said Susan Hansen, county administrator. Currently, the City of Delta's policy is to annex areas it serves with sewer service.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

9:35:42 AM    

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U.S. Representative John Salazar has signed on to co-sponsor H.R. 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007, according to The Crested Butte News. From the article:

A trip to Washington, D.C. by representatives of the Town of Crested Butte is bearing fruit this week as U.S. Congressman John Salazar (D-Colo.) signed on to co-sponsor H.R. 2262, the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007. "In the 135 years since its passage, the National Mining Law of 1872 has not been updated once," said Salazar in a press release dated October 2. "Colorado has seen first hand the result of abandoned mines on the landscape, in polluted waters, and left over mine waste."

Last month, Crested Butte town manager Susan Parker and attorney John Belkin traveled to Washington, D.C. with hopes to be asked back to testify on behalf of the bill. H.R. 2262 would reform the 1872 Mining Law, which allows the transfer of public lands for mining claims at the cost of $5 per acre. The reform bill seeks to encourage federal agencies to balance competing interests of the land when evaluating mining claims, and would recognize the value of land for other uses such as recreation. The reform bill would also add a provision addressing reclamation, currently not included in the mining law...

The Subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on October 2 on H.R. 2262. It was the first step in moving the legislation through Congress. Congress has tried to amend the Mining Law of 1872 several times in the previous 135 years, including 12 years ago when both the House and the Senate passed reform bills but Congress adjourned before an agreement could be reached between the two chambers. "I have heard from constituents in Crested Butte, the Summitville area, and around the 3rd [District] who want to protect our precious water resources," concluded Salazar. "After 135 years, I believe it is time for Congress to act." Senator Ken Salazar is also currently exploring his position on Lucky Jack Molybdenum Project and mining law reform. Senator Salazar will visit with elected officials and community members at Western State College at the Kebler Ballroom at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, October 9.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

9:24:13 AM    

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Bayfield finally has some good news about their wastewater treatment plant and water quality in the Los Pinos River, according to The Pine River Times. From the article:

After many months of crisis response, things seem to be looking up for Bayfield's sewer system issues. Town and sanitation district manager Justin Clifton reports the two entities have met the state mandate to reduce the strength of sewage (pounds per day) going into the Bayfield treatment plant - mainly because of pre-treatment settling tanks and filters installed by the school district at all four schools at a cost of around $100,000. Some local businesses also have installed similar systems. The state wanted a 51.42 pounds per day reduction. Just the two schools achieved around 60 pounds reduction, Clifton reported to town trustees on Sept. 18. He told the Times yesterday the reduction now looks like around 75 pounds. The state gave the sewer district a one month extension on a Sept. 3 deadline for five targeted businesses to get their sewage strength down to 300 milligrams per liter (mgl). That was the estimate of what was needed to achieve the 51.42 pounds reduction. "That just wasn't feasible," Clifton said. It had turned out to be much more expensive for the businesses and much more technically difficult than expected.

But on Sept. 18 he announced, "We have met the (overall) goal, and we will exceed it. Vastly exceed. That's the last, most cumbersome, aspect of the consent order" the district signed with the state outlining what would be done when to get the plant operating within state permit limits while a new treatment plant is built. "I'm very encouraged by where we are at," Clifton said. "That (load reduction) was the most strict deadline, and it's going away."[...]

Groundbreaking for the new treatment plant is likely to be this winter, he said, with completion next October or November. "We are moving forward with the plant," Clifton told trustees. "Plans are due to be turned in in early October. I'm really happy with the way we have lined up financing." The project is estimated at $5.8 million. The district and town have a $1 million Energy Impact Grant and a $5 million loan from the state Water and Power Authority. Clifton also is seeking other outside funding, including a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Steamworks to reduce their system loading. They qualify because of the brewery jobs they create. Clifton proposes to use the CDBG money to add more capacity in the new plant instead of doing a separate system at Steamworks, that someone then has to operate and maintain...

Not all the sewer news is good. Clifton advised town trustees, "The trouble is in Gem Village." The small treatment plant there was having effluent violations early this year. Those were tracked to an out-flow pipe that was too low and was sucking up sludge, Clifton said. The district had sludge removed (at both plants), but then the Gem Village plant started getting really high loading, Clifton said. Illegal dumping, including chemicals, is one possibility. "We need a full content analysis" of what's coming into that plant, he said. "It can be really expensive. But at this point we are kind of at a loss. Those (loading) numbers, they have to be chemical."[...]

The sanitation district is seeking voter approval this fall to dissolve at the end of this year. If approved, the town will take over all operations in Bayfield and Gem Village, all district revenues and expenses, and oversee construction of the new plant. Clifton said the town will send an information sheet to Gem Village customers to assure them that their service will continue, and that this isn't a scheme to annex them against their will. "We can't force (annexation) on anyone," he said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

8:51:40 AM    

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The availability of a sustainable water supply is effecting development decisions up in the Fraser Valley, according to The Grand County News [Scroll down to the article, Is there enough water to keep growing?]. From the article:

As real estate booms in downtown Winter Park and near the ski area, town officials find themselves balancing development and available water. Knowing that the Fraser Valley will eventually run into water shortages (it already has during drought conditions), some important questions hang in the air: What developments should the town approve now, and at what point does an alternative water supply -- such as a pumpback system -- need to be in place? Those questions were revisited Tuesday when Lakota, the growing residential development located across from the ski area, requested that Winter Park town council members reconsider the decision it made two years ago concerning density. Back then, Lakota requested roughly doubling the number of units it wanted to build -- from 259 units to 495 units. At that time, Mike Wageck, of the Winter Park Water and Sanitation District (which serves Old Town, Lakota and Winter Park Resort) believed the district could serve 200 more taps before endangering its physical supply of water. The town council, afraid the district wouldn't have enough water available, approved Lakota's request on the condition that an alternative water supply be made available before the developer builds its units...

But Lakota and Intrawest decided to fund a study of the area's water supply -- conducted by Leonard Rice Engineers. That study showed there was enough water to serve 1,600 additional units. The results were released in 2005, after the town council had already made its decision about Lakota. "Both major developers were concerned about their water supply and their growth, so they funded the study," said Wageck during a phone interview. "The district contracted the study and they reimbursed us." Wageck admitted he was unaware of other agreements the district had with Denver Water at the time he came up with the "200" number. Although there is a significant discrepancy between the district's original analysis and the new study, Wageck said he feels confident that the new study is accurate, and the district can service 1,600 additional taps.

Category: Colorado Water

8:36:20 AM    

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Here's an article about an education program for septic tank owners in Boulder County from The Longmont Daily Times-Call. From the article:

More than 60 rural Longmont-area residents showed up at the Boulder County Fairgrounds on Thursday night to hear why county health officials are urging they become "SepticSmart." That's the name of the Boulder County Public Health program that[base ']s attempting to inform homeowners whose properties are served by septic systems about their responsibilities for maintaining, repairing and, if necessary, replacing those systems...

Of the estimated 14,300 septic systems used by rural Boulder County households to treat wastewater, as many as 4,700 either were installed without permits or never got final county approval once they were completed, officials have said. Later this year, the Boulder County Board of Health is likely to consider a proposed regulation that would require a septic-system inspection whenever a property is sold or its ownership transferred. That, county officials have said, would ensure that the septic system has been approved and is operating adequately. The buyer and seller of the property could negotiate who'd pay for any repairs or replacements needed to bring the system up to current standards.

Category: Colorado Water

8:24:37 AM    

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The Fairplay Water and Sanitation District has settled on the type of wastewater treatment plant they want to build, according to The Fairplay Flume. From the article:

The Fairplay Sanitation District board has decided to proceed with an activated sludge mechanical system for wastewater treatment that has an estimated cost of $3.6 million to $4.4 million...

Andrew Waddoups from Burns & McDonnell, the water engineering firm hired by the sanitation district to develop a design for a new wastewater treatment plant, then presented the proposal developed by his firm, which uses a mechanical treatment system, called IFAS, for Integrated Fixed-Film Activated Sludge, referred to by its commercial name, AnoxKaldness. Waddoups compared the Kaldness system with the lagoon system proposed by Lemna Technologies, noting that the main advantage of the mechanical system is that the Kaldness can be modified to also remove phosphorus, which is not yet an issue with the state, but threatens to become one in the near future. Waddoups further explained that, in getting more detail for the requirements of the district, he has been able to reduce the estimated cost to a level that is comparable to the lagoon system proposed by Lemna Technologies. According to Waddoups, the highest cost of the proposed Kaldness system would be about $4.4 million; he added that some things can be stripped out so a bare-bones system can be built for around $3.6 million...

After lengthy discussion by board members and citizens attending the meeting, it was decided to not delay a decision any longer, and the board voted to accept the plan for the Kaldness system as presented by Waddoups. With that decision made, a site application and a guaranteed maximum price can be developed. The board also needs to decide what can be stripped out and what should be left in the system design. The plan will then be submitted to the appropriate committee of the Pike's Peak Area Council of Governments for its approval before sending it on to the state. Since the order issued by the state in August of 2006 required that construction of a new wastewater treatment plant begin no later than March 2008, with completion no later than August 2008, it is essential for the process to move forward immediately...

The next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Sanitation District office.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

8:10:51 AM    

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Here's an update on the ballot issue for eastern Fremont County to join the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, from The Cañon City Daily Record. They write:

Keeping the river whole is one of the main purposes for the proposed ballet question for inclusion into the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District. Residents will have the opportunity to vote on a ballot question to join the UAWCD, which will cost taxpayers about $3.80 each year on a $100,000 home. "It's very critical to be involved in this and help the Upper Arkansas," said John Sandefur. "I think it's up to us to help instead of standing out here as individuals and not do a thing." He said it's important to join the district because of the water issues facing the area.

For instance, during the drought in 2002, Cañon City ran out of water for six hours after Rocky Ford Highline Ditch sent out the call over Cañon City, who is junior to Rocky Ford. "Rocky Ford was deficient 3 second feet of water," said Tom Young, who was on the board for several years. "By releasing 6 second feet out of the Pueblo Reservoir, they were able to deliver the 3 second feet to Rocky Ford." Essentially, Cañon City was out of water until it appealed to the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District and Upper Ark pulled them out of it, Sandefur said. All of the ditches in the area were shut off, as well as in the residences, Young said...

To be included in the district provides numerous advantages, such as substantial legal resources, legislative advocates to support laws, building storage for municipal and agricultural water supplies.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

7:56:13 AM    

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U.S. Senator Ken Salazar's proposal for increasing storage in the Fryingpan-Arkansas project independent of the Preferred Storage Options Plan is close to blowing up, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A water-tight plan to study storage options in the Arkansas River basin - while holding back a flood of side agreements - has suddenly sprung a bunch of leaks. U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., came up with an idea in June that would strip regional agreements from a study of enlargement of Lake Pueblo and Turquoise Lake while incorporating a study of a dam on Fountain Creek. Now, regional consensus has become more important in order to avoid a "parade of horrible realities" if negotiations over storage fail, Salazar said. He gave negotiating parties until Dec. 1 to work things out. "I'm concerned we're going to run out of time, and everyone will go their own separate ways," Salazar said during a meeting Saturday at Colorado College...

Even as Salazar was trying to bring the group together, things were happening to poke holes in his plan. Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District Chairman John Singletary was angered that six parties in a 2004 intergovernmental agreement drafted new language Friday to insert into Salazar's proposed bill. "Again they wait until the 11th hour," Singletary said. "The six parties have come up with something today I haven't even read. I felt good about the study bill; it let the IGAs stand on their own. But now we have another piece of paper from the six parties, and they didn't even bother to ask us."[...]

New language presented by Southeastern Colorado Conservancy District Chairman Jim Broderick would specifically require consideration of the May 27, 2004, IGA among the City of Pueblo, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Fountain, Pueblo Board of Water Works and Southeastern. The Southeastern board voted last month to pursue legislation similar to six earlier failed attempts. "We met, put together our comments and will get our comments to everyone," Broderick said, speaking on behalf of all six parties. He suggested a working group between regional interests and Salazar's staff to hammer the bill together.

That group leaves out the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Lower Ark, the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, Pueblo West and Lake County, groups that have met in the past. In addition, Pitkin County sent representatives to Saturday's meeting, and Lower Ark General Manager Jay Winner said Pueblo County should also be represented at the table. The six parties also are suggesting specific authority for the Bureau of Reclamation to issue excess-capacity contracts to Aurora, as well as any entity within the Arkansas River basin as a part of the new legislation. They also want to include specific language about the Pueblo flow program, a part of the 2004 IGA. Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera suggested splitting the study of a dam, or other flood control project, on Fountain Creek into a separate bill. While study of enlargement of Turquoise Lake and Lake Pueblo would be Bureau of Reclamation projects, the Army Corps of Engineers should continue to be the agency involved on Fountain Creek, Rivera said. "We would also want to see something on Southern Delivery System, so the Bureau's study on SDS is not delayed by the Fountain Creek study," Rivera said...

Meanwhile, Pitkin County Commissioner Rachel Richards said her county wants stronger guarantees than those negotiated by the Colorado River district. While the district represents several Western Slope counties, water for the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project is diverted from the Roaring Fork basin, which impacts Aspen and other Pitkin County towns. "There were promises with the Fry-Ark Project that were never fulfilled," Richards said. She said any study of enlargement of Turquoise Lake, located in Lake County near the headwaters of the Arkansas River, should also include additional storage and augmentation for the Roaring Fork basin...

Pueblo West Metropolitan District Manager Don Saling said the district is beginning engineering work on its river intake below Pueblo Dam, because a plan to hook up with SDS is taking longer than anticipated. Pueblo West now has two pipelines from the dam, but needs another connection for increased capacity and redundancy...

After the meeting, when asked whether growing demands for items to be included in legislation have changed Salazar's mind about the focus of the bill. In June, he told the group he wanted to leave all past regional agreements out of the process. "It may or may not change the legislation," Salazar said. "I think we're running out of time and I want to avoid that parade of horribles." He favors letting regional interests work out differences, because two key members of the U.S. House, his brother Rep. John Salazar and Rep. Ed Perlmutter, are members of the majority Democratic party who represent opposite sides of the issue. Perlmutter represents Aurora, while Rep. Salazar represents much of the Arkansas Valley and the Western Slope.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

7:40:34 AM    

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The Denver Post is patting Silverton area groups on the back for a job well done in cleaning up mines in the Animas drainage. From the article:

For the past decade, government agencies and organizations along with a band of Silverton residents have worked together to clean up and close up - but at the same time save - San Juan County mines. The industry put the high-mountain town of 450 year-round residents on the map in southwestern Colorado, and gave it an economic base for nearly a century. It was a blessing and a curse: The mines left it with polluted water and soil but now help fuel its tourist industry. "One of the big things people come here for is these mines," said Rod Sweet, who drives tourists up vertical hairpins to the mines for Thin Air Mountain Tours. "We would have nothing to talk about if they weren't here." On the 10th anniversary of the joint Abandoned Mine Lands program, launched by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, residents like Sweet have a lot to talk about.

The 145-square-mile Animas River watershed surrounding Silverton was one of several chosen in 1997 to be a national pilot project for mine remediation. The others were a watershed in Montana and, later, land in southeastern Utah. But Silverton was the biggest challenge, with more than 1,500 shafts, mills, tailings piles, dumps and other features dotting the slopes that heave up outside the windows of every building in town. The area is webbed by three large streams - Mineral Creek, Cement Creek and the upstream portion of the Animas River -and their tributaries. In addition to the dangers of open shafts, tailings piles so toxic they could melt shoelaces, discarded explosives, flooded tunnels and caving structures, the water percolating through the mines and their waste was loading Silverton's streams with acids, metals and minerals. Sometimes they flowed with what looked like orange Kool-Aid or dirty chocolate milk. Fish couldn't survive. It was bad enough that the Environmental Protection Agency was poised to declare the entire Silverton watershed a Superfund site. That would have brought massive cleanup and a flow of federal funding, but also a stigma. Silverton would have been as well-known for toxicity as it is for the famous narrow-gauge train that chugs into Blair Street from Durango each day...

Silverton residents had already decided they would rather take on the complex responsibility for cleaning up their own home than have the federal government take over. In 1994, three years after the last mine shut down, they formed a stakeholders group. It eventually came to include the Forest Service, BLM, EPA, U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and 26 other entities that, in some cases, had already been cataloging Silverton's problems and lobbying for change...

Fearn said that initially, the group was split between longtime Silverton residents who believed the problem was so huge they might as well not try, and others who thought the Animas watershed could be turned back into pristine wilderness. The group came together somewhere in the middle during the long winter months that sometimes leave the town cut off by avalanches. Members sorted through the crazy quilt of more than 3,000 mining claims on federal and private lands and prioritized 400 sites needing the most work. They found that 67 of those sites contributed 90 percent of the contamination that dumps into the Animas River before it cuts through Silverton. They also found lead-laden soil along the river where town youngsters liked to whip up dust clouds with ATVs. They found iron-steeped bogs and open gashes - the remnants of a chimney style of drilling ore from mountainsides. They found old boardinghouses and mining cabins buckling into kindling. And they found common goals...

About 50 projects have been completed, some with the aid of local volunteers and contractors. That was cause for a recent celebration that brought more than 100 people from as far away as Alaska, Montana and Washington, D.C., for some backslapping and scientific inquiry. As attendees discussed conductivity profiles, metal transports and altered bedrock, some guests of honor squiggled in a plastic tray at the Kendall Mountain Community Center. The invertebrates, dipped from a Silverton creek, were a demonstration that some of the waterways around Silverton are cleaner. Further proof: In 2005, a healthy trout was found just downstream from Silverton. When cleanup efforts began, aquatic life was nearly nonexistent...

Simon pointed out there is still much to be done. The group is awaiting hoped-for federal changes in a mining law that dates back to 1872. Changes being discussed could put more pressure on mining companies to clean up after themselves and lessen liability for groups such as the stakeholders as they do cleanup on private lands.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water

7:24:24 AM    

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