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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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

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Should the U.S. form a water commission? The Grand Rapids Press reports that U.S. Congressman from Georgia, John Linder, thinks that it is time and has introduced legislation for a commission. From the article:

Fires ravaged tinder-dry Southern California last month. The Colorado River is at an 85-year-low. The mayor of Atlanta recently floated the idea of piping water to her parched city from somewhere else. So, it should come as no surprise that U.S. Rep. John Linder, a Republican from Georgia, has introduced legislation to form a national commission on water resources.

No surprise, either, that representatives from Michigan, including Rep. Vernon Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, reacted to Mr. Linder's idea with considerable skepticism, even alarm. The bill follows on comments from New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democratic presidential candidate, that the nation needs a "national water policy." Any talk of a national water policy raises the specter of Southwestern cities and Southeastern peanut farmers looking to somehow stick a straw in the Great Lakes. The political landscape does not favor Michigan or the other Great Lakes states. Government projections hold that at least 36 states will face a water shortage within five years. The Southeast and Southwest are in the grip of droughts that show no sign of relenting, and could grow worse if scientists are even half right about the expected effects of global climate change.

Mr. Linder, who presented the bill to a subcommittee that includes Mr. Ehlers and Ms. Miller, tried to reassure his Great Lakes colleagues that he was not laying the groundwork to turn on the water works. "This is not to establish any new federal policy to tell the people of the Great Lakes what to do with their water," Mr. Linder stated. He wants the commission to focus on conservation, a laudable goal. The simple way to allay concerns, then, is to make it crystal clear in the creation of any national water commission that states retain inviolable control over their water, and that the commission won't be allowed to even consider diversions of the Great Lakes, or water that belongs to any other state, to parched portions of the country. Without those assurances, Mr. Ehlers and Ms. Miller have every reason to be suspicious, and to dam up this misguided water bill.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

7:14:23 AM    

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The Pueblo and Colorado Springs city councils are up to date on plans to transform Fountain Creek from what it is today to a recreation and open space mecca after a briefing this week, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

By this time in two years, Colorado Springs Utilities and the Lower Arkansas River Conservancy District hope to have a master plan in place that will literally and figuratively shape the Fountain Creek for generations. The two groups met with the Pueblo and Colorado Springs city councils as well as county commissioners from Pueblo and El Paso counties to update their progress on a master plan for the Fountain Creek Corridor, stretching from the southern end of Colorado Springs to the confluence of the Arkansas River on Pueblo's East Side...

THK's Kevin Shanks and his subcontractor, Merle Grimes, said they hope to accomplish a number of goals with the plan. They include improving the watershed by reducing flooding and erosion, sustaining productive agricultural lands, creating a trail from Pueblo to Colorado Springs and gaining public and private support. Many of the goals will be accomplished through a number of environmental engineering measures to bring wetlands and vegetation back to the banks of the creek and allow it enough room to meander. Grimes said the group has done a survey of the corridor to identify and protect areas along the Fountain where the creek can flood or move normally. In urban areas where that isn't a luxury, Grimes talked about creating man-made banks out of a combination of rip-rap and vegetation that makes the banks stronger and provides a more natural look. In narrow urban channels, Grimes talked about looking for an extra 20 percent of width to allow the creek to meander a little bit, rather than race through the narrow. "We like to use a skier analogy," Grimes said. "Everybody knows what happens when you turn your skis straight down the hill. But when you do slalom turns it slows you down." Slowing the water reduces its energy and the amount of sediment that gets carried downstream. Grimes said the plan will also include detention basins where runoff is collected and slowed. With less energy, the creek can do less harm to its banks. As it settles in detention basins, pollutants and minerals can settle out of the water. Shanks said the plan will also include a trail from Pueblo to Colorado Springs that will provide a number of recreational opportunities...

Council President Judy Weaver asked how much of the proposal was contingent on building a dam to control flows on the creek. Grimes said that most of the projects could be done regardless of when or if a dam gets built. He said the project looks at the corridor as a whole, from its tributaries to the confluence and much of the engineering measures work independently of a dam. For the most part, the elected officials at Monday's meeting were supportive of the project's progress, but the real challenge may be in implementing it. The plan must work in conjunction with what the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force is doing as well as the watershed study by the Army Corps of Engineers. Shanks said THK wants to have a timeline and budget for implementation in place by June 2009 and work started by September.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

7:00:14 AM    

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Water consumption for Colorado Springs was up sharply over October 2006, according to The Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

A recent dry spell in which precipitation fell 71 percent short of normal has the city's water suppliers reminding residents to conserve. Although Colorado Springs Utilities' water storage is on track with the 30-year average, precipitation in October was only a quarter-inch, 29 percent of normal, Utilities spokesman Steve Berry said...

Consumers used 36 percent more water last month compared with the same period a year ago, a reflection of the dry conditions, Berry said. Last month's water usage was still 9 percent less than in pre-drought October 2001, he said. And for the year, usage is 16 percent less than in 2001, demonstrating customers' conservation efforts since the drought hit in 2002 and brought water restrictions and block water rates that discourage overconsumption. Berry noted that temperatures are 104 percent of normal this year, and precipitation sits at 11.3 inches, 31 percent below normal. "We would not consider it as being drought conditions, but it is a good reminder to all of our customers that we still live in a semiarid climate," Berry said. "People need to be diligent with their water use, including in the winter months."

Category: Colorado Water

6:50:59 AM    

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Glenwood Springs moved closer to building their whitewater park as council has approved a contractor and more dough, according to The Glenwood Springs Post Independent (free registration required). From the article:

The Glenwood Springs City Council voted last week to award an $888,838 bid to begin work on park features, to American Civil Constructors, of Littleton. Construction of phase one of a whitewater park in Glenwood Springs should begin Dec. 1. A second phase will include amenities along the river's banks at the site near the West Glenwood bridge. Mayor Bruce Christensen said the park would include a "U-shaped" wave feature that goes the full width of the river just upstream from the bridge in West Glenwood Springs. That way, waves could be ridden when the river is running at various levels...

Kjell Mitchell, representing the Hot Springs Lodge and Pool, encouraged the city to go forward with the park. The pool previously expressed concerns about locating the park near downtown Glenwood due to fears that it could harm the geothermal aquifer that supplies the pool. The pool has contributed $25,000 to the park, Mitchell said. Whitewater park specialist Jason Carey said that construction costs will only escalate in the future, and the city seems to have received good bids. To reach the necessary amount of funding, the city decided to contribute up to another $275,000.

The city decided earlier not to apply for a $200,000 Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant because it was under the impression that its chances of receiving the grant would be higher if it promised not to apply for recreational water rights for the park. However, GOCO said no such condition exists. Christensen said he spoke with GOCO on Thursday, and GOCO indicated it would be very receptive to helping with the second phase...

Councilmen Dave Merritt and Larry Beckwith cast the only votes against awarding the bid. They said they were for the park but that the city must draw the line somewhere after being repeatedly asked to contribute higher and higher amounts. The city has promised voters other things like road improvements and a new theater that haven't been built yet, they added. They also shared concern about city manager Jeff Hecksel's comments that contributing the additional funding from 2008 sales tax proceeds would reduce flexibility in future spending options. Merritt said the Shoshone Power Plant being offline or online this winter wouldn't be an issue of significance.

Here's the link to the Glenwood Whitewater Park website. More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:44:44 AM    

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This may be a big deal. The Colorado Medical Society voted last Friday to oppose Powertech's proposed uranium mining operation in Weld County, according to The Loveland Reporter-Herald. From the article:

On Friday, the Colorado Medical Society's Board of Directors voted unanimously to support the Larimer County Medical Society in its opposition to a planned uranium mine between the towns of Wellington and Nunn. "Without a doubt the medical society believes (the proposed mine) is a mistake," said Dr. Cory Carroll, who serves on the board, and is also the president of the Larimer County Medical Society...

The state medical society board cited uranium mining's potential health risks in making its decision...

A group of opponents, Coloradoans Against Resource Destruction, has been hosting meetings and soliciting petitions to raise awareness about the mine and its potential health and environmental effects. Almost 5,000 people have signed the group's petition, which is tracked on the group's Web site. Politicians have also gotten involved in the opposition -- U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, a Republican who serves the proposed mine's area, has spoken out against the plan, and Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., has asked federal agencies to look into the mine's effect on water quality. Two Larimer County Democrats, State Reps. Randy Fischer and John Kefalas, are drafting a bill they say would improve out-of-date mining rules. And Larimer County's Environmental Advisory Board is studying possible effects on air, land and water associated with uranium mining...The Larimer County Medical Society now plans to seek support from the American Medical Society in opposing the plans.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:35:28 AM    

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