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

Central Colorado Water Conservancy District

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

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From email from Reclamation (Dan Crabtree): "As we mentioned in our notice of May 19th, flows in the Lower Gunnison Basin are forecasted to peak today or tomorrow, May 21st or 22nd. We feel confident that now is a good time to begin ramping up from Aspinall Unit Reservoirs to match the descending limb of the peak in order to achieve peak flows in the Black Canyon while averting flooding issues at Delta, Colorado...

"So, starting today, Wednesday, May 21st, Reclamation will start ramping releases up from all reservoirs in the Aspinall Unit. Crystal Reservoir is at a level at which it will begin spilling sometime today. Consequently flows in the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gorge will gradually increase by about 800 cfs per day for the next 4 days. This high release is scheduled to continue through May 31st but will be assessed on a daily basis. Flows will vary depending upon side inflows, conditions at Delta, and other factors."

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb): "As we prepare for run off this week, we are moving more water out of Green Mountain Reservoir to the Lower Blue. Today, we bumped up releases to 900 cfs and anticipate we will get to 1000 cfs, and probably above, over Memorial Day weekend."

Category: Colorado Water
6:13:26 PM    

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From the American Chemical Society: "Researchers in Wyoming report development of a low-cost carbon filter that can remove 90 percent of carbon dioxide gas from the smokestacks of electric power plants that burn coal and other fossil fuels. Their study is scheduled for the May 21 issue of ACS' monthly journal, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research. Maciej Radosz and colleagues at Wyoming's Soft Materials Laboratory cite the pressing need for simple, inexpensive new technologies to remove carbon dioxide from smokestack gases. Coal-burning electric power plants are major sources of the greenhouse gas, and control measures may be required in the future. The study describes a new carbon dioxide-capture process, called a Carbon Filter Process, designed to meet the need. It uses a simple, low-cost filter filled with porous carbonaceous sorbent that works at low pressures. Modeling data and laboratory tests suggest that the device works better than existing technologies at a fraction of their cost."

Category: Climate Change News
5:43:59 PM    

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Colorado and Kansas have hit upon a complex formula to settle Colorado's water debt on the Arkansas River, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A complex water trade has been set in motion to ensure Kansas that it gets deliveries of water owed by Colorado under the Arkansas River Compact. At a May 1 meeting, the Arkansas River Compact Administration determined Colorado owes Kansas more than 3,000 acre-feet to satisfy obligations dating back to 1996 and gain acceptance by Kansas of the accounting for the years since then...

The involvement of Arkansas Valley water providers was then set in motion by Water Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte. The Pueblo Board of Water Works Tuesday voted to lease the water at $9 an acre-foot to the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, an arrangement used since 2005 to satisfy deliveries to Kansas. The $9 rate is the same Pueblo pays the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District for Fryingpan-Arkansas water. However, the water board would not use its stored Fry-Ark water, but instead use water it has stored in Twin Lakes. The water board did not request Fry-Ark water this year, so will make up the difference in future allocations. Pueblo is currently storing about 18,500 acre-feet of water in its 31,200 acre-foot account in Lake Pueblo. The city has been slowly building up the account as a cushion against drought, but held off adding to storage this year. The Lower Ark district intends to apply to the state for drought assistance to recoup the $31,000 it will spend in the deal. Finally, the actual water delivered to the Kansas account in John Martin Reservoir was released by Colorado Springs from Lake Meredith in Crowley County. Colorado Springs released about 3,400 acre-feet to deliver 3,062 acre-feet at John Martin. Pueblo will use its Twin Lakes water to repay Colorado Springs at a time and location to be determined.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
5:42:08 PM    

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Here's a look at runoff on the Arkansas River from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

"From the weather forecast, we'll probably see the peak at about 450 cfs by Wednesday (at midnight),"" said Roy Vaughan, head of the Pueblo Bureau of Reclamation office. "Toward the end of the week, we'll start seeing freezing temperatures (at higher elevations) again.""[...]

Overall, flows on the Arkansas River above Pueblo increased from 1,150 cfs a week ago to 1,500 cfs Tuesday at the Wellsville gauge east of Salida. The flows include about 350 cfs from Reclamation and the Pueblo Board of Water Works to balance accounts between mountain reservoirs and Lake Pueblo. Similarly, flows at Avondale remain higher, but only partly because of runoff. The flow Tuesday on the Arkansas River at Avondale was 1,400 cfs, up from about 900 cfs over the weekend. Of the increase, 300 cfs was a release from accounts in Lake Pueblo by the Fort Lyon Canal Co. and about 225 cfs was from increased runoff, said Joe Flory, river operations manager for the Colorado Department of Water Resources.

Snowpack remains heavy in the mountains, despite peaking in mid-April. Statewide, it was still at 128 percent of average Tuesday, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. In the Arkansas River basin, snowpack is at 157 percent of average and still near the average peak despite a monthlong melting trend. In the Colorado River basin, from which nearly all water is imported into the Arkansas Valley, snowpack is at 155 percent of average and is still above the average peak. Snowpack levels have dropped to 93 percent of average in the Rio Grande basin.

Category: Colorado Water
5:39:24 PM    

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The disposal of septage is an increasing problem in Garfield County as local officials struggle to accommodate the oil and gas boom there, according to The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

Garfield County commissioners on Monday agreed to spend about $55,000 on a membrane bioreactor filtration system at its landfill west of Rifle. The system will treat up to 3,000 gallons per day, or about a million gallons per year, and allow for reopening of landfill lagoons for septic system dumping, said Jim Rada, the county's environmental health manager. He said the lagoons have been closed since fall. "We're being overloaded by sewage from the oil and gas industry, from the rig camps and the temporary housing facilities. We're getting a lot of waste there," he said. Rada said there are thousands of septic tank systems in the county, and it's becoming a challenge to figure out where pumped sewage can be dumped. The Rifle and Silt sewage plants accept limited amounts, and Glenwood Springs' South Canyon landfill has a composting operation that is being overwhelmed by demand created by the oil and gas fields, Rada said.

He hopes the new county system will serve in part to boost capacity for residents with septic tank systems, and keep wastewater haulers from having to drive as far to dump sites. Rada said the county also is encouraging the energy industry to install similar filtration systems at their sites, to "perhaps reduce the amount being brought to the landfill in the first place." The county system will incorporate a membrane that will filter out particles larger than 0.4 microns. Aerobic bacteria and ultraviolet disinfection also will be used to treat the wastewater. The filtered water will be used for purposes such as dust mitigation and irrigation, and also can be spread out over landfill acreage to evaporate if there is no use for it.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election
5:34:16 PM    

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From Fort Collins Now: "The EPA is working with Greeley to help residents identify water-saving fixtures to purchase for their homes and is helping identify water-saving practices...Fixtures that are water savers are marked with the WaterSense label. For more information on Greeley's Water Conservation Program, call (970) 336-4134. For a list of WaterSense labeled products, go to"

Category: Colorado Water
5:32:52 PM    

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CSU Pueblo's study of Fountain Creek scored another $25,000 this week from the Pueblo Board of Water Works, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A study of how water quality affects life on Fountain Creek will get a big infusion of funding to begin more comprehensive research. The Pueblo Board of Water Works voted Tuesday to add $25,000 to the study by Colorado State University-Pueblo, which will be added to $75,000 approved last month by the Pueblo City Council, $400,000 from the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and possibly another $75,000 from Pueblo County in the next budget year. "We're just now coming up to where we think the funding would be adequate and we're really pleased," said Del Nimmo, who is coordinating the research project. The original budget for the study was a little more than $300,000 per year, but funding has been slow to materialize. The Lower Ark district kicked off the effort in September 2006, with a $200,000 contribution, added another $100,000 to support the first year of the project and last month approved $50,000, with an additional $50,000 contingent upon other partners joining the effort. The study is looking at both the things found in the water - from E. coli bacteria to metals concentrations - and how those affect the life forms that depend on Fountain Creek for survival. It will provide a more comprehensive look at the creek than past studies because more sites are being tested more frequently, Nimmo said. Some parts of the study have already had useful applications, such as pinpointing the source of high E. coli levels when a leak was found in a sewer line last summer at Manitou Springs...

One part of the study, which could be funded by an Environmental Protection Agency grant, may include trying to locate a suspected source of selenium above the outfall of the Pueblo wastewater treatment plant. Selenium, an essential element for life, can be toxic to birds and fish at very low levels. It's also a potential costly matter for Pueblo if wastewater discharge levels have to be lower than naturally occurring selenium in streams. Nimmo also hopes to look at how easily selenium that loads in Fountain Creek through the Pueblo area is transferred to the food chain. The study will also be able to look into a new area because of the increase in funding, tracking sources for organics - things like pesticides, detergents and chemicals, Nimmo said...

CSU-Pueblo supports the study by granting release time to faculty members and contributing lab space and equipment. A $150,000 inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry machine specifically purchased for the study is located at the university. The water board participated, even though it takes no water from Fountain Creek.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:41:22 AM    

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Runoff has started in earnest on the Colorado River, according to The Glenwood Springs Independent. From the article:

The Colorado Department of Transportation on Tuesday announced that it closed the bicycle/pedestrian path along Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon between the Grizzly Creek Rest Area and the Hanging Lake Rest Area, which includes the Shoshone Power Plant area, because of rising waters from the Colorado River...

Runoff from receding snowpack in the area is pushing rivers in the area faster and higher. The Roaring Fork River in Glenwood Springs early Tuesday was flowing at 4,970 cubic feet per second and was at a gage height of 5.51 feet, according to figures from the U.S. Geological Survey. Just a week earlier, the river was flowing at 2,300 cfs and had a gage height of 4.25 feet. About a month ago, the river was flowing at 1,250 cfs, according to the USGS figures. Possible flooding of the Roaring Fork River in Glenwood Springs will occur at about 11,800 cfs or a gage height of 8 feet, according to information from the National Weather Service. NWS data as of Tuesday showed the river gage height at about 5.48 feet.

The Colorado River was also crashing through Glenwood at a fast rate. USGS figures showed that the river below Glenwood Springs was flowing at 11,800 cfs on Tuesday, almost double the rate the river flowed a week ago when it was flowing at 6,500 cfs. A little more than a month ago, the river was cutting through the mountains at 3,040 cfs. NWS information shows that the potential for flooding of the Colorado River near Glenwood Springs occurs at about 21,600 cfs or a gauge height of 10 feet. The river was at about 7.9 feet on Tuesday. The increasing speed of the river comes at a time when runoff from melting snow is expected to push the river's water level even higher, according to data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Snow data from a May 1 NRCS forecast showed that the Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs will flow at 142 percent of average during the May through July period. It is the highest forecast issued by the NRCS in the Upper Colorado River basin. The Colorado River at Dotsero will flow at 118 percent of average during the May through July period, according to the NRCS forecast.

More runoff news from The Grand Junction Sentinel. From the article:

The Colorado and Gunnison rivers are filling fast and are expected to crest sometime late Friday...

"We will more than likely see more water this year than we have in more than a decade, and one of the first peaks we will see is at the end of this week," said Chadd Searcy, director of emergency management for Mesa County. "This is probably going to be our first peak, and it will more than likely not be our significant peak." In the Grand Valley, the National Weather Service has issued flood advisories for the Colorado River near the Colorado-Utah state line and near Cameo in De Beque Canyon. The Weather Service reported that the depth of the river near the state line was 10.3 feet Tuesday morning. Bank full stage in that area is 12 feet, while flood stage is 15 feet. Forecasters say they expect the river to rise to near 13 feet in that area early Friday afternoon. Should it reach 14 feet, flooding would be likely in the Redlands. The Weather Service also reported the depth of the river at 9.2 feet near Cameo Tuesday morning. Bank full stage in that area is 10 feet, while flood stage is 12 feet. Forecasters say they expect the river to rise to near 11.3 feet near Cameo early Friday morning. A depth of 11.5 feet would cause moderate lowland flooding, and water will rise to near the base of the Interstate 70 bridge at the confluence of Plateau Creek, the Weather Service said...

The area that most concerns county officials is Collbran. The small town sits near the confluence of Plateau and Buzzard creeks, several miles downstream of Vega Reservoir. "They are predicting Vega Dam to spill somewhere around the next 15 to 20 days, so that will put us in that peak the first to mid-part of June, and that is not going to help us out at all, but that is what we are trying to prepare for in the town of Collbran," Searcy said. "The worst thing that could happen in the Collbran area is that Vega Dam spills and starts putting a lot of water down the Plateau Creek at the same time we get runoff down Buzzard Creek." Bridges crossing those creeks could overflow with water and be closed. Low-lying homes could see some flooding and Colorado Highways 65 and 330 could be at risk of flooding in spots, he said...

As of Tuesday afternoon the Colorado River is flowing at 15,057 cubic feet per second, and the Gunnison River is registering 13,782 cfs, according to the National Weather Service.

Officials have issued a flood warning for the Crystal River near Redstone, according to The Aspen Times. From the article:

The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory for the Crystal River near Redstone, south of Carbondale, for Wednesday morning. The river level was at 3.2 feet as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, according to the weather service office in Grand Junction. The bankful stage is at 3.2 feet and the flood stage is at 5.0 feet, the agency said. The forecast was for the river to exceed 3.8 feet by Wednesday morning. Warm temperatures this week have started melting the snow in the high country. Local rivers and streams were noticeably higher on Monday and Tuesday. The snowpack remained about 124 percent above average for this time of year east of Aspen Tuesday afternoon.

Check out stream conditions at the USGS Colorado Water Watch website.

Category: Colorado Water
6:22:05 AM    

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The Longmont City Council has voted against imposing mandatory watering restrictions, according to The Longmont Times Call. From the article:

Council members agreed not to ban daytime lawn watering, but they did encourage city officials to continue educating residents and encouraging them to conserve water...City officials already encourage residents not to water their lawns between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and only water two or three times a week...Every year, city water officials prepare a drought management plan to size up Longmont's water situation - and they expect to have more than enough water this year. Longmont likely will have more than 28,000 acre feet of water available this year, city officials said, and they expect the city will only need about 19,000 acre feet.

Category: Colorado Water
6:13:14 AM    

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Governor Ritter signed HB 08-1161 yesterday, according to The Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

HB 1161, sponsored by Fort Collins Democratic Reps. John Kefalas and Randy Fischer and Republican Sen. Steve Johnson, requires uranium miners to prove they can return groundwater either to pre-mining conditions or those in line with existing state standards. The bill also requires mining operations to notify nearby landowners of their intent to mine...

Any water testing now must be completed by a third-party contractor approved by the state, a shift from former state requirements that allowed the mining company to do the testing...

"This is a pretty amazing example of an engaged citizenry acting positively on something that affects their community," Ritter said. The legislation was introduced in the House to encompass almost all mining operations in Colorado. But after hard-rock mining advocates protested, the bill's language was watered down to include only proposed in-situ leech uranium mines in Colorado.

Fischer, an engineer, said he spent many years working in mining reclamation and saw a need for the bill after Davis and others approached him and Kefalas last year. "I have traveled all over the world cleaning up abandoned mine sites, and there is a huge legacy of abandoned sites that are leaking toxic waste and heavy metals into the groundwater," Fischer said. "Having this bill signed today represents a unique opportunity ... to make sure we protect groundwater and our environment before a new kind of mining technology is brought to use - not after."

More coverage from The Greeley Tribune. From the article: "Powertech representatives worked with the sponsors to make the bill more palatable to the industry, but in the end, mining opponents said they believe the legislation will help protect their water. Powertech officials were not available for comment Tuesday."

Click through and check out the new look of the Fort Collins Coloradoan. More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election
6:07:32 AM    

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