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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Thursday, October 11, 2007

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Here's the link to the fourth quarter reports for the Colorado River District.

Category: Colorado Water

7:20:03 PM    

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Here's an article about the 35th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, from The Clean Water News. They write:

Clean water advocates celebrated the Clean Water Act's 35th anniversary alongside the Platte River today, highlighting the Act's successes as well as its challenges outlined in a new report by Environment Colorado entitled Troubled Waters: An analysis of Clean Water Act compliance.

According to the report, in 2005 more than 45 percent of industrial and municipal facilities across Colorado discharged more pollution into our waterways than their Clean Water Act permits allow.

"As the Clean Water Act turns 35, Colorado still faces serious challenges with polluters fouling our rivers, lakes and streams," said Matt Garrington, Field Director at Environment Colorado. "Over 25% of our rivers and 43% of our lakes fail to meet water quality standards for designated uses such as agriculture, aquatic wildlife, recreation, or drinking water."

The goals of the 1972 Clean Water Act are to eliminate the discharge of pollutants into waterways and make all U.S. waterways swimmable and fishable. Over the last three and a half decades, this landmark environmental law has resulted in significant improvements in water quality, but the original goals have yet to be met.

Eddie Kochman, former state aquatic wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife and lifetime angler, hailed the Clean Water Act for its role in cleaning up the Arkansas River.

"The Arkansas River near Leadville went from a designated toxic waste site to a world class fishery," said Kochman. "This turnaround wouldn't have been possible without good science showing us what affects water quality and the necessary protections provided by the Clean Water Act."

Category: Colorado Water

6:42:13 PM    

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From The Greeley Tribune (free registration required), "A ceremonial signing of the Cache la Poudre Water Quality Monitoring Agreement, a part of the Environmental Protection Agency's most comprehensive environmental leadership program, has been scheduled for Oct. 19 at the Poudre Learning Center, 8313 F St., in Greeley. The celebration will begin at 1:30 p.m. and will include poster displays describing details of the river sampling sites, test parameters and sampling frequencies. Douglas Rice of Colorado State University's Environmental Health Services Department will give a short presentation on fish and bottom-dwelling invertebrate monitoring on the Poudre River. Refreshments will be provided...For more information, call the city of Greeley Water and Sewer Department at (970) 350-9360 or go to

Category: Colorado Water

6:44:42 AM    

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There's a water battle shaping in the Roaring Fork Valley, according to The Aspen Times (free registration required). From the article:

Fearing they may be able to do little to change the massive Hunt Ranch development plans through the land use process, Missouri Heights residents have launched a water battle. If residents can't reach an agreement with developers in upcoming weeks, the matter will head to trial later this month, where neighbors will argue in water court that the development could leave their wells dry. Missouri Heights residents have complained that the proposed development would be far denser than any other development in the area, bringing with it urban-style impacts such as traffic and light pollution to the rural landscape. But they say it could also have impacts far below the landscape, drying up the underground reservoir that residents rely on for their well water.

Aspen water attorney Paul Noto has filed an opposition to the plan in water court. Noto declined to discuss the case, citing a policy against commenting on pending litigation. But an association letter sent to supporters last month outlines neighbors' hopes that by going to water court, their opposition may not be such a "David and Goliath situation" anymore...

Neighbors don't expect to stop the development completely, or to get its water augmentation plan completely denied. But they at least hope the judge will limit outside watering in the development -- a restriction opponents could point out to county commissioners in the land use process. "The county gives us no recourse for the other things we've been talking about," Waterman said. "Traffic. Safety. ... Plus the light and noise and everything else. It's going to destroy Missouri Heights. But all that aside, let's just look at the aquifer. We still have a reasonable grievance here." Neighbors argue that in dry years, Hunt Ranch won't have enough irrigation water to serve the development and will have to depend on well water...A five-day trial is set to begin Oct. 29 in water court in Glenwood Springs.

Category: Colorado Water

6:34:09 AM    

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Colorado is doing OK right now as far as drought is concerned. Abnormally dry conditions show up along the northern and eastern borders but in general a wet summer helped the picture. Here's a look at current conditions from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. They write:

Less than two weeks into the new water year, which water managers use to measure the vitality of the state's water supplies, water storage levels are good and early clues are appearing that are keeping water managers upbeat about the spring runoff. That's because the sky unleashed a healthy dose of rain and snow at the end of the 2007 water year. Water managers depend on a wet fall to dampen mountain soil, said Paul Davidson, a hydraulic engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation in Salt Lake City. "If we have that wet(ness), then when the snow melts in the spring, it's not soaked up like a dry sponge in the soil," he said. "If the soil moisture isn't there in the fall, that's a bad thing for the runoff. Right now, we're setting up good.[per thou]

Areas of the Colorado River Basin, Davidson said, saw 145 percent of their normal rainfall in September. According to the National Weather Service, Grand Junction's 2007 water year ended two inches above normal for precipitation, while Aspen received normal rain and snowfall, said meteorologist Ken Ludington. Durango ended the year two inches below normal. "There wasn't a trend for everybody," he said. "It's still spotty." Weather Service rain gauges tell a different story for the beginning of the 2008 water year. "Almost everyone is below a third for what they should have for October," Ludington said...

Lake Dillon is completely full, and Lake Powell is half full, with a pool level at 60 percent of normal for this time of year. Blue Mesa Reservoir on the Gunnison River is 83 percent full, or about 110 percent of normal for October. How full those reservoirs will be come spring may depend on La Niña, an area of cool water temperatures brewing in the Pacific Ocean. "The long-term forecasts are for a warmer and drier winter," said Chris Treese of the Colorado River District. "A La Niña water temperature is setting up in the mid-Pacific, and that generally for Colorado means a warmer and drier winter."

Category: Colorado Water

6:22:33 AM    

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Here's a recap of yesterday's Arkansas Basin Roundtable meeting from the The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Projects to study groundwater conditions northeast of Colorado Springs and to develop a template for future water transfers were given the green light Wednesday by the Arkansas Basin Roundtable...

The roundtable approved a $45,000 application to the Colorado Water Conservation Board from the Upper Big Sandy Ground Water Management District toward a $50,000 study to determine the limits of well pumping in an area stretching 60 miles from Calhan to Limon. The area overlies a designated basin that is in the Arkansas River basin, but is not tributary to the river. The rate at which the aquifer recharges is unknown, and there are limited surface water supplies. Drilling into the Denver Basin is an option, but it is deep, expensive and too far east to guarantee productive wells, engineer Phil Martin told the roundtable...

The project would take about six months, combining test wells with weather and water monitoring. It would also look at the impact of continued pumping on wetlands. The area over the aquifer is in rapidly growing portions of Elbert and northeastern El Paso counties. The aquifer is separate from another nearby designated groundwater basin, Upper Black Squirrel Creek, which is the target area of a separate study.

The roundtable also approved an application for $23,860 from the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District on behalf of a committee studying agriculture-to-urban transfers. The committee is studying a range of recommendations that could be useful statewide and expects to make recommendations to the roundtable in September 2008, said Wayne Vanderschuere, a Colorado Springs water executive who sits on the committee. The committee also has representatives from Aurora and several rural communities in the valley. The group is acting as a "think tank" to find ways to see if the pitfalls of past transfers can be avoided. The money in the grant, to be matched by a like amount contributed voluntarily within the basin, will pay for professional facilitation from Aqua Engineering. It will also rely on state and academic experts to explain the nuances of transfers. Virgil Cochran, a committee member from Prowers County, said the meetings have been valuable at building trust among interests which were initially wary of sharing information. "At the very least, the info gleaned from the experts will lead to valuable recommendations on how to reduce the negative consequences of water transfers," Cochran said...

In other business, the roundtable elected Gary Barber of El Paso County chairman; Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District Jim Broderick and Arkansas Valley Audubon Society representative SeEtta Moss, vice-chairs; and Jay Winner, recorder. They will serve one-year terms. Jeris Danielson was elected to a two-year term on the Interbasin Compact Committee.

Category: Colorado Water

6:09:05 AM    

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Here's an article about the effects of corn ethanol production's impacts on Colorado's water from The Rocky Mountain News. They write:

Colorado's eastern plains could be a big player in producing automobile fuels in the next decade, but there are downsides, a National Academy of Sciences report says. The fascination with corn- based ethanol for cars likely will strain America's water quality, loading rivers and groundwater with pesticides and fertilizers, the report says. The report's authors said that rather than using "row crops" such as corn, farmers could consider the switch grass, miscanthus, poplar and willows that are part of the prairie ecosystem. Those would hold the soil and nutrients in place better and wouldn't need nearly as much water, fertilizer or pesticides.

The prairie ecosystem is comprised mainly of cellulose, rather than glucose, the sugar that is in corn kernels, said Bryan Willson, interim director of the Clean Energy Supercluster at Colorado State University. That's a plus in that cellulose requires few chemicals and not much additional water in this climate, he said. "There's a lot of concern that using corn for biofuels could tax our resources, particularly water, pulling down the aquifers for irrigation," Willson said. But cellulose has a problem. The sugar in corn is right at the surface, but cellulose material holds onto sugars. Researchers at CSU, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden and other Colorado universities are using enzymes to transform cellulose -into sugar in the labs.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:00:01 AM    

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