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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Saturday, October 13, 2007

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Earth News: "The House Natural Resources Committee yesterday approved a new grant program for wildlife refuges, a management plan for the Platte River and a national trail system in New England as part of the 13 land and water management bills that cleared the committee. The refuges bill would establish a grant program to help control invasive insects and weeds on wildlife refuges, while the Platte River measure would codify the federal share of an existing management plan for the river."

More from the article:

Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.)'s H.R. 1462 is meant to address four threatened and endangered species on the Platte River while protecting the water rights of the growing number of cities and farmers that use the river's water in the western United States. The bill would authorize the Interior Department to resolve disputes over the recovery of several endangered species -- the whooping crane, interior least term, piping plover and pallid sturgeon -- and still allow irrigators to use the river. Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming are parties to the agreement, which came after 14 years of negotiations. The effort is expected to cost about $317 million over 13 years. Interior would pick up half the tab, while the states would pay the rest. Over the past 150 years, nearly 90 percent of the habitat used by several bird species along the river has been lost. The plan seeks to increase downstream flows during certain times of the year to improve the surrounding habitat. Water for the restoration effort would be provided by the three states and from several small projects in the basin.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

8:10:19 AM    

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DARCA is running a couple of workshops for ditch company personnel. From the DARCA weblog:

"Records Management for Ditch Companies", Thursday, Nov 8, details the best practices for maintaining and storing ditch company documents. Most ditch companies are nearly a century old, and many have files dating back to the company's inception. In this workshop, learn the best methods for properly storing and cataloguing documents, and how to institute procedures today that will insure files are in order tomorrow. Also, learn what an archive can do for you.

"The Power of Excel - Spreadsheet Techniques for Ditch Companies" Friday Nov 9, is a hands-on workshop in the computer lab. The course is designed to teach smart spreadsheet strategies for typical ditch company data processing tasks. Are you awash in data but unsure how to make sense out of it? Would you like to access and use government collected data for your ditch company? This workshop will help solve these problems. The instructors will demonstrate sample spreadsheet applications for every day ditch company tasks, such as maintaining a shareholder list, basic water accounting and reservoir accounting.

Coyote Gulch is sure that the Excel workshop will be useful for those that use Apple's Numbers on Macintosh or those that use Open Office on Macintosh, Linux or Windows.

Category: Colorado Water

7:46:39 AM    

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According to The Greeley Tribune (free registration required) there are two meetings this weekend about Powertech's proposed uranium mining operation in Weld County. From the article:

State and federal lawmakers are hosting meetings on Saturday and Sunday in Nunn and Denver to listen to residents' concerns. State lawmakers also plan to announce legislation to deal with the mine. On Saturday, U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Fort Morgan, and State Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins, will be among lawmakers and interested residents hosting a meeting in Nunn about the mine. The following day, Democratic lawmakers will join Johnson and others at the state Capitol in Denver to announce new legislation for the upcoming session of the Colorado General Assembly, which convenes in January...

Community forum Saturday, Oct. 14 When: 2 p.m.
Where: Nunn Community Center, 185 Lincoln Ave., Nunn

Capitol rally Sunday, Oct. 14
What: Larimer County lawmakers will announce legislation to address the proposed mine.
When : 2 p.m.
Where : Colorado State Capitol, West Steps, 200 W. Colfax Ave., Denver

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

7:21:08 AM    

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Gray water reuse shows great promise for reducing water use in homes but faces obstacles from municipalities and water providers. Here's an article about grey water systems up in Boulder County and Fort Collins from The Rocky Mountain News. They write:

In a small house, just off main street, a tiny in-house recycling system that cost $1,500 gathers water from the showers and redistributes it to the home's four toilets. The result: a reduction in home water use of as much as 30 percent. It's a groundbreaking idea in Colorado, a state where the use of so-called gray water has long been controversial. Dave Kreutzman, chief executive officer of New Generation Energy, said he's been able to win permits for 12 home systems in cities such as Louisville, Boulder and Fort Collins, but it's an uphill, house-by-house battle.

Many cities, including Denver, have yet to approve their use, either because of health concerns or because of concerns about how the systems could affect the state's complicated water rights system. Dave Akers, a water quality specialist for the Colorado Department of Public and Environment, said the systems don't raise any red flags from a waste disposal or water quality perspective, but he said cities and counties may have a different take on the devices. "Part of the issue is the quality of the water," Akers said. "Where you're normally putting potable water to use, now you're using non-potable water. Even though it's treated with chlorine, it's a different level of risk that decision makers have to assess and that's different for every community."

This system, manufactured by Canada's Brac Systems, eliminates some of that waste by gathering bath water, running it through small filters, treating it with chlorine, and then distributing it to home toilet tanks. Whether these systems will become widely used is anyone's guess. "Everyone wants to say they're illegal," Kreutzman said. "But no one wants to say here's the statute that shows why they're illegal. It's unbelievable. All we're doing is taking water that's being used for your bath tub and shower and re-using it in your toilet. If that's illegal, then so are hot tubs and so are swimming pools (which also use recirculating systems)." Mike Jones, Louisville's chief building officer, said his town decided to approve the systems because, for indoor use in toilets, they pose few if any problems and they save water.

Category: Colorado Water

7:06:05 AM    

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Here's a look at what drives conservation best, high rates or mandatory restrictions, from The Rocky Mountain News. From the article:

Aurora, one of Colorado's most water-short communities, decided to ask researchers at the University of Colorado's Western Water Assessment to help them determine which tools worked best, either alone or in combination with other tools, such as rebates for water-saving appliances.

Researchers examined water use data from 10,000 households in Aurora.

Here are some of their findings:

* Using a simple tiered price system, where prices rise as use rises, causes people to cut back about 5 percent.

* When tiered systems are in place, mandatory restrictions generate another 10 to 15 percent of savings.

* Households that took advantage of rebates for water-efficient toilets, clothes washers and dish washers, reduced water use 10 percent.

"These are really important tools," said Chris Goemans, an economist and assistant professor at Colorado State University who co-authored the study with Doug Kenney, a University of Colorado researcher.

Though restrictions are surprisingly effective, Goemans said it is price, over the long-term, that is most likely to keep water use down as droughts come and go.

Water utilities across the state are singing the blues from a revenue point of view. Since the 2002 drought water use is down dramatically. Here's an article on the subject from The Rocky Mountain News. They write:

Five years after an epic drought gripped Colorado, its largest cities have dramatically reduced water use, aided by multimillion dollar conservation campaigns and soaring water rates. Colorado Springs gets the "A" for effort, slashing home water use the most -- 23 percent -- since 2001, according to a survey by the Rocky Mountain News. Denver and Fort Collins have also made strides, dropping residential use by 18 percent. The survey examined water use and prices in 10 cities, five on the Front Range and five on the Western Slope. Most of the cities have achieved savings, particularly in recent years, using voluntary rather than mandatory water restrictions...

"Our reservoirs would not be as full right now without our customers efforts," said [Greg Fisher, chief planner at Denver Water]. "We're 93 percent full right now. Normally we're at 88. Part of it's snowpack, but certainly it's our customers' hard work."

CSU's Waskom said there's no question Coloradans could use less water than they do now, by changing land use, by using gray water from homes, and finding more efficient water technologies. "We've shown we can conserve water," [Reagan Waskom, director of the Water Resources Research Institute at Colorado State University]. "Now the question is what do we do with that water. Do we put it into new growth or do we save it to use as a buffer during drought? If we do a great job and then use the saved water for growth, we've just created more vulnerability in our systems."

Category: Colorado Water

6:48:28 AM    

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Congratulations to Al Gore and the IPCC panel on climate change for landing the Nobel Prize for their work on climate change. Many scientists from Boulder had a hand in the IPCC report including 14 that honchoed individual chapters. Here's a short bio on each from The Boulder Daily Camera (free registration required). They write:

On Friday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize would be shared between former Vice President Al Gore and the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Most recently, the IPCC released its fourth assessment report on the state of climate change, which said humans are "very likely" the cause of global warming. Dozens of scientists from Boulder contributed to the assessment, but 14 of them worked as lead authors on chapters for at least one section of the report, writing and incorporating feedback from thousands of comments from their peers. Here are brief bios of Boulder's lead authors:


Guy Brasseur, director of NCAR's Earth and Sun Systems Laboratory, is an atmospheric chemist who has worked on global models of atmospheric chemistry and chemical transport in the atmosphere.

William Collins studies the interactions of sunlight and heat with greenhouse gases and other constituents in Earth's atmosphere.

Elisabeth Holland, an NCAR senior scientist, studies the link between the chemistry of the atmosphere and ecosystems on Earth.

Reto Knutti, an NCAR visiting scientist, is an expert on climate models. His work focuses on projections of future climate and estimating the uncertainty of model scenarios.

Patricia Romero Lankao is a sociologist who studies the causes and societal impacts of climate change, especially in cities.

Linda Mearns, an NCAR senior scientist and director of the center's Institute for the Study of Society and Environment, specializes in the regional impacts of climate change, the potential effects of global warming on agriculture, and variability and uncertainty in climate-change studies.

Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at NCAR, studies projections of future climate change and tropical climate variability.

Kathleen Miller is an economist who studies the policy implications of climate change on water supplies, aquatic ecosystems, marine fisheries and wildfire hazards.

Bette Otto-Bliesner uses climate models to investigate past climates and climate variability, with an emphasis on changes in temperature and sea level.

Kevin Trenberth is an NCAR senior scientist and head of the center's Climate Analysis Section. His specialties include global climate change, climate variability and El Niño, the hydrological cycle and climate observations.

NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory

David Fahey is a physicist whose research at NOAA includes using unmanned aircraft systems and the effects of aircraft exhaust on climate.

Roger Pulwarty is a senior scientist at NOAA and the program manager for the U.S. National Integrated Drought Information System. He studies the role of climate and weather in society-environment interactions.

CU's National Snow and Ice Data Center

Tingjun Zhang is an NSIDC senior scientist who specializes in permafrost and its possible impacts on climate.

Stratus Consulting

Joel Smith, vice president of Stratus Consulting, analyzes climate-change impacts and adaptation issues.

Congratulations to all for your contributions to science.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:42:48 AM    

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