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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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

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From The La Junta Tribune Democrat, "The first reading of an amendment to ordinance number 193 was read into the minutes of the Olney Springs Town Council meeting Tuesday night. The amendment will allow the Town of Olney Springs to change sewer fees established on Nov. 13, 1995. The changes are slated for Jan. 1, 2008. Ordinance 193 allows sewer fees in the amount of $7.50. At the present time, fees are $6.50 and have been this amount since 1995. The town's entire sewer system was cleaned out just this year. "It was extremely expensive," stated Mayor Pro Tem Carl McClure. The increase in fees will be saved for maintenance and repairs. Section one of the amended ordinance reads that a change in the rates for the sewer system operated by the Town of Olney Springs shall be as follows: Connections, whether inside or outside of Town limits will be $250. The Availability Fee is $2.50. And, the Monthly fee will be $7.50"

Category: Colorado Water

6:33:56 AM    

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Here's a look at State Senator Jim Isgar's proposed changes in the state's approach to accounting for the Colorado River, from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

In an attempt to keep water users from overtapping the Colorado River and other waterways, Isgar said he plans to introduce a bill next year to put conditions on when new water rights can be utilized in the state. Isgar said his legislation would bar some junior water right owners from drawing water from the system unless storage is, for example, 70 percent. He said the exact conditions are being worked out. "We're putting the burden on them," Isgar said. "If they're so convinced there's excess water and they want to come build a project, let 'em do it. But know that we're not going to let them pump unless there's a certain level of storage available." Isgar said he plans to put into his bill exceptions for small levels of water use so that the bill would apply primarily to large water projects...

Chris Treese, spokesman for the Colorado River Water Conservation District, said the goal of Isgar's bill makes sense: to prevent a call for water rights to the river when the lower basin compact states are not receiving water they are legally obligated to receive. "The philosophy is simple enough: Rather than head into the train wreck of a compact call, and Interstate Colorado River Compact call, it's doing everything we can to avoid it," Treese said. "We know it's going to be just ugly and bitter and [sigma] litigious if we get to the point of a compact call." Treese said it makes sense to avoid or postpone a situation whereby every drop of water on the Colorado River is developed. That, he said, could precipitate a dangerous situation in which drought or other natural water shortages could force the state to shut down water use by even senior water rights holders. "If we find ourselves in a shortage situation, we're likely to have to call out more than just the juniors who may have put us over the edge," Treese said...

Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, said she expects some resistance will emerge from Front Range lawmakers and water users, but that Isgar's bill needs to get passed next year. "They want to continue to take water out as if there were no chance of a shortage," Curry said. Curry, the bill's House sponsor, said Isgar's bill is a "visionary" way for Colorado to avoid the widespread problems a Compact call could create.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:26:58 AM    

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From Water Online, "Richard Engler, Ph,D., Director of the Green Chemistry Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) is scheduled to speak about green chemistry in water treatment at the Association of Water Technologies (AWT) 2007 Annual Convention & Exposition, November 7 - 10, 2007 at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dr. Engler will be part of a panel on green chemistry, which attempts to reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous substances from the design, manufacture or use of chemical applications in water treatment. Other panel members will speak about environmental design and green buildings, the use of green technology for cooling water treatment, and wastewater reuse and recycling. The AWT Annual Convention brings together water technologists from all over the world in an opportunity to network, build business relationships, discuss common problems, and stay upto- date on the water treatment industry. The meeting features presentations on new technologies, business practices and regulatory compliance issues."

Category: Colorado Water

6:12:56 AM    

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Mesa County is drafting regulations for evaporation ponds used in oil and gas production, according to The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

Mesa County's five-page report about evaporation ponds focuses on assessing traffic impacts, protecting the environment, ensuring public health and cleaning up the waste ponds if they leak or are no longer used. "Evaporation Pond Facilities Draft Policies" is being written as a component of the county's developing Energy Master Plan. County officials are looking for more control over these waste facilities as they go through the conditional-use-permit process. In order to operate an evaporation pond, which is used by the oil and gas industry to dispose of tainted water used in the extraction of oil and gas, a conditional-use permit from the county must be obtained. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which issues permits for the facilities, is working on its own rewrite of evaporative pond regulations. The state's regulations will focus more on the science behind the pits, while the county's regulations focus more on land use, said Charles Johnson, solid waste unit leader for the state agency. The state's revisions won't be rolled out to the public until sometime next year. The county's draft policy also might not be completed until sometime in 2008.

Some of the county's draft policy highlights:

- A one-year study will be conducted to examine groundwater, prevailing winds, rainstorm flows, soils and vegetation.

- New evaporation facilities will be a minimum of a one-half mile from an existing dwelling and at least one mile from a municipal boundary or rural community.

- Ponds, located no closer than 500 feet to property lines, will be constructed with two synthetic liners and checked weekly for leaks.

- Ponds will have warning signs posted and have immersed ladders and ropes for escape in case someone falls in.

- Regulators will explore "engineering solutions" to minimize pond odors.

- A transportation-impact study will be performed.

- The facility will post a bond "to insure the reclamation plan, remediation plan" until post-closure water monitoring can be completed, according to the draft policy. The bond amounts are to be recalculated every five years, and they will be sufficient to cover road maintenance and remediation of spills.

- The ponds will be monitored with weekly reports submitted to the county and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

- The facility must produce an approved emergency-management plan to follow in the event of a spill. Documentation verifying the spill has been cleaned must be submitted to and approved by the state and the county before the evaporation facility reopens.

- Evaporation ponds must submit a "closure plan" before closing. "Pits shall be properly closed within six months after cessation of use," according to the draft policy.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:01:47 AM    

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On Monday the Colorado Supreme Court sent a water rights decree for the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District and the San Juan Water Conservancy District case back to water court, according to The Denver Post. From the article:

A water court decree that gave Archuleta County a 96-year conditional water right so it could plan for its growing population was reversed Monday by the Colorado Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that the water court failed to properly determine what would be a reasonable water supply planning period. It said the water court failed to determine substantiated population projections and how much water was reasonably necessary for the planning period. The court sent the matter back to the water court for further proceedings. In 2004, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District and the San Juan Water Conservancy District sought water rights to serve Archuleta. A water court decreed a conditional water storage right through 2100 for 29,000 acre-feet of water, plus the right to refill the reservoir for total annual storage of 64,000 acre-feet. Trout Unlimited challenged the decree over concerns of how it would affect flows and trout population on the San Juan River. The fisheries conservation group contended the districts were requesting far more than they actually needed.

Category: Colorado Water

5:52:16 AM    

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The Poudre River nearly ran dry. last week, according to The Denver Post. From the article:

Water law and policies that allow the allocation of nearly every drop for irrigation and city water supplies rather than provide minimum in-stream flows are harmful to the river, its bed, banks and aquatic life, [Gary Wockner] said. Poudre River Commissioner George Varra said it is his job to ensure that water-rights owners get their share, and normal operations can cause such low flows. "This is not uncommon at all," Varra said. "The snow is gone, and the river is living on rain. There is no minimum in-stream flow to be maintained on the Poudre."...The U.S. Geological Survey's gauge on the Poudre at Fort Collins showed that the average daily flow in the past year, November 2006 through this month, has been 5 cfs or lower - virtually drained - several times in the months of November, January, May, September and, now, this October.

Category: Colorado Water

5:38:44 AM    

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