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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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

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Here's a cool sequence of camera shots from recent wildfires in California, from the USGS. Those wily coyotes.

In other fire news from the USGS:

A debris flow and flash flood warning system developed jointly by NOAA's National Weather Service and the U.S. Geological Survey will help protect Southern Californians from potentially devastating debris flows-commonly known as mud slides- and flash floods in and around burn areas created by the recent wildfires.

"Much of the smoke has cleared from the region's devastating wildfires last month, but the danger is not over," said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of the National Weather Service. "Moderate amounts of rainfall on a burned area can lead to flash floods and debris flows. The powerful force of rushing water, soil, and rock can destroy everything in its path, leading to injury or death."

"Our science can help determine the location, size and occurrence of potentially destructive debris flows and floods from last month's Southern California wildfires," said USGS Director Mark Myers. "The public, emergency managers and policymakers can use this information to prepare for and react to these potentially devastating natural hazards."

5:33:04 PM    

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The town of Frisco has discovered ethylene dibromide (EDB) in a well on the Frisco peninsula, according to The Summit Daily News. From the article:

Traces of pollution in a relatively new well on the Frisco peninsula could help spur the Town to study the idea of a source water protection plan. "It's very important that we protect the integrity of our water supply," said Frisco Town Councilmember Tom Looby, who has been advocating the plan for several years. "Our groundwater is our insurance policy," Looby said. The toxic chemical found in the water is called ethylene dibromide (EDB) and has been classified as a probable carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency. It was used as an additive in leaded gasoline and as a soil and grain fumigant until it was banned by the EPA about 20 years ago. According to an EPA fact sheet, EDB is still used in the treatment of felled logs for bark beetles and termites. The concentrations of EDB found in well number 7 are very low, at .27 parts per billion, but exceed EPA limits.

Town officials said the contamination doesn't pose any threat to the Town's existing drinking water supply. "Nobody is losing any sleep over this ... but it is a headache," said Town manager Michael Penny. The well is not connected to the Town's water supply and there is "no issue" of being to provide adequate potable water, Penny said. "We haven't found that substance anywhere else in town," said public works director Tim Mack. Dave Koop, the Town's water operations foreman, said the pollution may stem from historic pine beetle treatments in the area. "The last time it was used was 20 years ago," Koop said, explaining that EDB is described as having a 20-year lifespan before it breaks down to undetectable levels in the environment.

Category: Colorado Water

7:15:40 AM    

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The city of Kremmling plans to replace their main water line, according to The Sky-Hi Daily News. From the article:

One of the main problems with Kremmling's badly leaking water distribution system will be fixed next year. In a review of the draft budget during Monday's town board meeting, Kremmling Town Manager Ted Soltis said the town is planning to replace its main transmission line in 2008. The line extends from the town's water plant located about three miles west across U.S. 40 to the western edge of the town. Soltis said the estimated cost of the replacement of the main water supply line is about $650,000. Half of that amount will be paid by the town while the rest is expected to be obtained in matching grants from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. "It is a top priority project for next year," Soltis said.

Public Works Director Doug Moses confirmed the importance of the replacement of the main transmission line, which was installed in the early 1970s. In recent years, sections of it have begun to fail due to heavy corrosion of its steel pipes. "If it goes down, we would have 24 hours to three days of water before we run out," Moses said. That reserve supply of water is maintained in the water tanks on the town's eastern side. Moses said that about 80 percent of the main transmission line will have to be replaced. The other 20 percent of the line was replaced in 1999 and earlier this year. Both Soltis and Moses agree the main transmission line has to take priority over the town's other water system problems. About 30 percent of Kremmling's water distribution system within the town limits will also need to be replaced eventually.

The problem with the in-town water system is the decay of the steel pipes that were installed more than a half century ago. Heavy corrosion has not only decreased the flow of water within the system, but the pipes have sprung major leaks. The corrosion is so extensive that Moses estimates that from November to April the steel pipes leak two-thirds of all the water flowing through them. For example, last March the town's water plant produced about 12 million gallons of treated water with only four million actually being used. About eight million gallons of the water apparently leaked out of the system.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

7:09:19 AM    

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Opposition has surfaced for a watershed protection district proposed by the Salida City Council, according to The Mountain Mail. From the article:

A draft ordinance to create a watershed protection district drew fire Monday night from ranchers, prompting Salida council members to establish a committee to review the proposal. The draft ordinance was completed Oct. 18 and distributed to city council members for review before the meeting Monday. Area ranchers obtained the draft and found problems. Salida administrator Steve Golnar recommended the city create the document in response to increased danger to the city water supply - specifically the Friend Ranch development west of Poncha Springs.

Drafted by city water attorney James Montgomery, the watershed protection district, if established, would include a five-mile area above all diversion points for the city water supply. Property owners within the district would need to obtain permits from the city before conducting specifically regulated activities within the district. Violators would face fines or other penalties in Salida Municipal Court. Sixteen regulated activities incorporate a myriad of ranching activities - including stock grazing, use of fertilizers and pesticides and vegetation removal.

Jay Moore reminded ranchers council members had just received the draft ordinance and a long hearing process would be necessary to create the watershed protection district. Reassurances fell short leaving flood gates open for ranchers to vent. Impact to property values, duplication of other state and federal water protection regulations, taking of rancher's rights and need for the city to produce a map showing impacted properties topped agricultural concerns. Bill Schuckert, U.S. Forest Service Salida District Ranger, said his agency was unsure what impact the ordinance would have by requiring city permits for activity on federal land. After comments by ranchers and property owners, council member Hugh Young moved to create a committee to review the proposed draft ordinance. Yerkey asked committee members to consider ways to remove ranchers from the ordinance. Young's motion passed unanimously. Richard Chick, Friend Ranch developer, said his group wants to work with the city, but called the ordinance "antagonistic and not cooperative."

Category: Colorado Water

7:00:12 AM    

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Here's an update on restoration of cutthroat trout in the Trapper's Lake drainage from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

Trappers Lake is "the perfect situation" for restoring Colorado River cutthroats, Rogers said. "It's literally the center of the cutthroat range and it's tremendously productive," Rogers said. "Historically it's had the most robust population of Colorado River cutthroats. Any of our conservation goals have to include Trappers Lake." But Trappers' cutthroat bloodlines have been diluted over the years, starting in the 1940s when as many as 1 million Yellowstone cutthroat trout were stocked in Trappers. Twenty years later, rainbow trout were dumped into still-higher Wall Lake and soon made their way to Trappers. Even more recently, brook trout have entered the competition. While no one knows exactly how brook trout ended up in Trappers Lake, one theory says the high water year of 1984 provided a watery escape from nearby Crescent Lake. Besides competing for habitat and food, brook trout carry whirling disease and several of the fish Rogers netted last week showed severe signs of WD. Additionally, since brook trout fry emerge earlier that cutthroat fry and are three times as large as the emerging cutthroat, the young brookies have a decided advantage for food and habitat.

Restoring Colorado River cutthroats won't be easy. At 300 acres and 170-feet deep, Trappers Lake is too vast to rotenone effectively, and so Rogers plans to work his way around the handful of upper lakes that feed Trappers. Starting with Little Trappers Lake, in succession Rogers wants to kill off the exotic fish and restore pure Colorado River cutts. A fish barrier on Cabin Creek will keep WD-infected fish from moving out of Trappers Lake to as-yet uninfected Little Trappers Lake. Because the lake and its headwaters are in the wilderness area, permission for the traps, barriers and removal must be obtained from the U.S. Forest Service. White River National Forest aquatics biologist Christine Hirsch said she's currently writing an environmental assessment for the work, which should begin in earnest next summer. "The Division's plan is really consistent with our Forest goal of cutthroat trout recovery," Hirsch said. The Colorado River cutthroat so far has avoided ESA listing, largely because of the restoration efforts of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Should the fish get listed under the ESA, its future no longer will be in the state's hands. "Any listing could effect grazing, water development, fishing, land use, a multitude of things," Rogers cautioned. The fish Rogers plans to restock into the Trappers Lake basin will come from Williamson Lakes in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Ironically, the progenitors of those fish originally came from Trappers Lake in 1931. "We traded them some Trappers Lake cutthroats for some golden trout, and it's a good thing we did," Rogers said. "It's the perfect situation, using those fish to re-stock our best place for cutthroat trout."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:35:35 AM    

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The U.S. House of Representatives has voted 361-54 to override President Bush's veto of H.R. 1495: Water Resources Development Act of 2007, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The House approved what could become the first override of a President Bush veto Tuesday, with Republicans joining Democrats in challenging the president over a $23.2 billion water resources bill that addresses pressing infrastructure needs while offering hundreds of home district projects. "I must respectfully disagree with President Bush's veto of this important and long overdue water resources development act," said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., the top Republican on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, in explaining the rare rebellion of the GOP faithful toward the president. The vote was 361-54, well over the two-thirds majority needed to negate a presidential veto. The Senate, which approved the bill 81-12 in September, could cast its override vote as early as Wednesday...

"The House sent a strong message to President Bush today by voting to overturn his misguided veto of the Water Resouces Development Act," Salazar said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "WRDA authorizes the construction of the conduit for Pueblo and Otero counties, which is critical to the public safety in the lower Arkansas Valley. Already communities have received notice that they are not in compliance with (federal) EPA safety standards." Among Colorado's seven representatives, only Republican Doug Lamborn voted not to override. Salazar joined fellow Democrats Mark Udall, Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter and Republican Marilyn Musgrave in supporting the override. Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Republican candidate for president, did not vote...

The Water Resources Development Act includes hundreds of Army Corps of Engineers projects, although a large chunk of the proposed funding would go to the hurricane-hit Gulf Coast and the Florida Everglades. Lawmakers from both parties representing those areas stressed that Bush was misguided in trying to kill the bill. "Without a Water Resources Development Act, which is seven years overdue, we are seeing our coastline disappear," said Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La.

The few critics pointed out that the Army Corps now has a backlog of $58 billion worth of projects and an annual budget of only about $2 billion to address them. "We simply can't continue to add to the backlog of projects that are already out there," said Rep. Jeff Flake., R-Ariz. The bill, the first water system restoration and flood control authorization passed by Congress since 2000, would cost $11.2 billion over the next four years and $12 billion in the 10 years after that, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Flood protection projects along the Gulf Coast, including a 100-year levee protection in New Orleans, would cost about $7 billion if fully funded. The bill approves projects but does not fund them. It would authorize the construction of navigation improvements for the Upper Mississippi River, at an estimated federal cost of $1.9 billion, and an ecosystem restoration project for the Upper Mississippi costing $1.7 billion. The Indian River Lagoon project in the Florida Everglades would be funded at about $700 million. Addressing the issue of wastefulness in past Army Corps projects, the bill calls for an independent peer review process of all Corps projects costing $45 million or more. The Senate is expected to approve the veto override by a comfortable margin. Last month, some 20 Senate Republicans, including conservatives such as David Vitter, R-La., and Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., wrote Bush urging him to support the bill. "Hurricane Katrina and the Interstate 35 bridge collapse in Minnesota are two recent examples of the dangers in under-investing in our nation's key infrastructure," they wrote.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:24:37 AM    

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From The Fort Collins Coloradoan, "What is the value of clean water? Perhaps a more pertinent question is what is the value of contaminated water? The proposed uranium mining in Weld County will adversely impact our environment. The extent is not completely known, but the historical record is clear; uranium mining leaves behind contamination. The Larimer County Medical Society was petitioned by physicians as well as residents in our county to look at the issue of uranium mining. On July 15, the LCMS Board of Directors passed a resolution that opposes in-situ and open-pit mining of uranium in our county. Because of the multiple contaminants (uranium, radium, selenium, lead, vanadium, molybdenum, nickel, cadmium, arsenic, etc.) that are disturbed in the mining process and, the fact that these mining operations are dangerously close to population centers, it is critical to shut down this process before any damage is done."

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

5:59:56 AM    

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