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

Urban Drainage and Flood Control District

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Monday, November 5, 2007

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Loveland has completed their treatment plant expansion, according to The Loveland Reporter-Herald. From the article:

Loveland now can get more treated water each day, the result of the city treatment plant's $8 million expansion project. "People don't realize how much work goes into getting water to come out of your faucet," said John Perrine, the treatment plant's chief operator. "Some people just say, 'Where's my water?'" The city's demand for water has increased at a steady 1.5 percent to 2 percent each year, said John McGee, special projects manager for the city's Water and Power Department. During peak summer flow days, customers were consuming more than the 24 million gallons a day the plant could treat, forcing the department to buy treated water from other municipalities to make up the difference. So the department started an expansion project to increase the plant's capacity to 30 million gallons a day -- enough to meet the growing demand, for now.

McGee said the department will need to expand the 80-year-old plant again in five years, this time to 34 million gallons a day, before expanding it again in the next 20 years or so to meet the site's maximum treatment capacity of 38 million gallons a day. During this current five-year project, crews built a new system that helps remove taste and odor compounds from the water, and added a basin the size of a high school gymnasium that helps settle sediment in the water. They installed a computerized system that helps operators monitor the plant -- water clarity levels, chemical levels, how long the filters have been running and others factors...Crews also replaced and repaired old equipment and reinforced the plant's security system.

Category: Colorado Water

6:30:30 AM    

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According to The Pueblo Chieftain the Fountain Creek Task Force is coming to Denver to scope out the South Platte River and the redevelopment and cleanup efforts here. The group is hoping to learn from the efforts by Denver and other metro area organizations and apply the lessons learned to Fountain Creek. From the article:

As director of the foundation for the past 25 years, [Joe] Shoemaker through "patient persistence" has carried on a passion for promoting the river, a family legacy that his father began shortly after the 1965 flood. The Greenway Foundation formed on the heels of the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District...They're an odd pair of organizations. The foundation doesn't have any power or authority to make anyone do anything to clean up the river. The only equipment the flood control district has is a ceremonial shovel hanging on the wall. Both work quietly trying to weave the resources of others toward common goals.

Yet, working in tandem, they have achieved spectacular results. The organizations will share their collective experience with members of the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force on a tour today as the group searches for similar solutions along the Arkansas Valley's most troubled waterway.

At a recent Task Force committee meeting, the model - a water authority working with a coordinating foundation - was considered as a possible road to creating the Crown Jewel envisioned by U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, whose Denver office incidentally overlooks Greenway's Crown Jewel, Confluence Park. Merle Grimes, a landscape architect working with the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and Colorado Springs, has worked extensively with Greenway over the years. In fact, Grimes cut his teeth in the river improvement business as a trail ranger at just about the same time Jeff Shoemaker became director...

To put it kindly, it's hard to get Shoemaker, a former teacher who served in the Colorado House and on the Colorado State University board, to stop talking about what a bad river the South Platte was then and how good it has become. "You have to understand that this was a dead river. There were 250 sources of pollution, junk yards, tires, automobiles. Denver had turned its back on the birthplace of Denver," Shoemaker said. "Through the foundation, we've invested $70 million in the last 30 years. The Denver area has one of the most actively used urban rivers in the country. There is $4 billion of development along the corridor, and I don't see any way that would have happened without a lot of public engagement in the waterway."[...]

While the Urban Drainage district has provided $250 million - matched by the same amount from other entities - for flood control, many of its projects have dovetailed with the Greenway Foundation's goals. A maintenance road also can be a hiker-biker trail. A kayak run serves as a flood diversion chute. Attractive ponds detain stormwater. A grassy mound covers a mountain of junk. A decorative wall framed by willows provides bank stabilization. Channelizing Cherry Creek above the confluence to protect valuable downtown property led to Venice on the Creek, where a family of four can take a candlelight gondola ride for $25. Recreational amenities are built to accommodate the occasional flood. What the public sees are places to walk a dog, listen to music or splash in the water on a hot summer day. The district started small, with its one-tenth of a mill raising $300,000 back in 1970. Today, it has a $22 million annual budget, raised through a 0.7 mill levy, and only 23 employees. The district has never used its full mill funding capacity because growth in Denver has more than covered costs...

The Greenway Foundation's mission has evolved over time, Jeff Shoemaker said. "We are an entity that people know more by what we've done than who we are," Shoemaker added. "Our goal is not to continue to construct, but to engage the community." In the early days, it concentrated on simply cleaning up the river, then moved into constructing trails and keeping them clean - trail rangers armed with brooms towed trash baskets behind their bikes. Now, with a system of trails in place, the group works at putting people in touch with the river. In the future, the group will continue to serve as a neutral advocate devoted to improving the river, Shoemaker said...

Can it work for Fountain Creek, an agricultural area that could quickly become urbanized? Fort Carson growth is spurring large-scale housing developments in El Paso and Pueblo counties. Industries are moving in. Farmers along the creek haven't fully recovered from the last round of floods and fear worse destruction may lie ahead. Pueblo is looking at higher flows from development throughout the 930 square-mile watershed. Erosion and sedimentation are problems everywhere. "The foundation is successful because it has taken what works for the Denver community," Grimes said. "There are a lot of parallel issues with the Fountain. After the 1965 flood, the local press was asking, 'Why isn't anything getting done?'" Grimes said his work with the Fountain, under the contract with the Lower Ark and Colorado Springs, will draw heavily on his experience with the Greenway Foundation. The advantage with Fountain Creek is that there are still plenty of open spaces - a "blank canvas." Jeff Shoemaker said the Vision Task Force could be the catalyst for real improvements on Fountain Creek.

Category: Colorado Water

6:17:57 AM    

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Officials in the Arkansas River Basin have introduced Tamarisk Leaf Beetles to fight tamarisk with the hope that they can reproduce some of the successes being reported along the Colorado River, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

About 150 tamarisk-munching beetles were introduced on private land in the Granada area, east of Lamar, about a month ago. That may not seem like a lot, but more will be introduced if the population takes hold. The results could be dramatic. Right now, sponsors of the release are waiting to see how well the beetles survive the winter. "We're excited to see what happens," said Michael Daskam of the Holly Natural Resources Conservation Service office. The beetles, from a strain of Kazakhstan beetles released at the Dolores River, are natural predators for tamarisk, or salt cedar, but are not native to this region...

The beetles keep the plants in check in their native environment, but were not introduced to North America until after a decade of testing in the 1990s. Once introduced, the beetles will migrate on wind currents for miles, and scientists have found they will not attack other species, but simply starve to death if they can't find tamarisk. "If they take off as well as they have on the Dolores and Colorado rivers, you would see massive defoliation 50 miles in either direction within three to four years," said Dan Bean, of the Colorado Department of Agriculture insectary at Palisade. About 20,000 of the beetles were released at multiple sites on the Colorado River in Utah in 2004-05, and another 2,000 released on the Dolores River. Since that time, defoliation of nearly 150 miles on the Colorado and 40 miles on the Dolores has been achieved.

It could take as long as seven years to knock back tamarisk, because the plants begin to develop natural defenses against the bugs. Complete control may never be possible. The beetles are tremendous breeders, however. One female can lay 700 to 800 eggs and there are two generations a year. The beetles themselves are prey to birds, spiders and ants, however. "In the end, you see rapid exponential growth, and with no limits, they'll take over an area in three to four years," Bean said. "The adults will find more tamarisk, and if they get on the wind currents, can move up to 50 miles."

Whether the beetles from Western Colorado will find happy hunting in the Arkansas River basin is unknown. The Bureau of Reclamation has established a population below Pueblo Dam since 1998, but it has not had the same success as on the Utah-Colorado reaches. The numbers of beetles have grown and ebbed because of weather conditions and relatively sparse tamarisk infestation. Some of the beetles were moved to below John Martin Reservoir, but there has not been a follow-up study of their success, said Deb Eberts, coordinator of the Reclamation program. There have been three releases of the beetles in Kansas, as well as at Bonny Reservoir in the Republican River basin in Eastern Colorado, Bean said. None of those populations have taken off, but there is hope the release near Granada will be more successful, since the Kazakh beetles fare better than Chinese varieties at more southerly locations. Tamarisk infestation is heaviest in the lower reaches of the Arkansas River in Colorado as well, giving the beetles a heavy supply of food...

The NRCS, a federal agency devoted to improving agricultural land, is using other methods to control tamarisk as well, working in conjunction with landowners, Daskam said. Other ways to treat large stands include aerial spraying, bulldozing, burning or a combination of all three. In small stands or at inaccessible sites, the tamarisk must be chopped out by hand and manually treated. Those methods are all expensive, however, compared to beetle releases. Like the beetle releases, it could be years before results are seen.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

5:47:09 AM    

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