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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Friday, May 30, 2008

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From email from Reclamation (Dan Crabtree): "For the past 7 days, releases from Crystal Reservoir have resulted in flows in excess of 6,500 cfs through the Black Canyon (peaking at over 7,500 cfs); flows at Whitewater have peaked at around 15,000 cfs; no major property damage has been reported from the Delta area; and water from Blue Mesa Reservoir has been evacuated to an elevation at which the majority of the expected runoff can safely be stored. Reclamation's next step is to begin reducing controlled releases from the Aspinall Unit. Beginning Sunday, June 1st releases from the Unit will begin to decline at the rate of approximately 500 cfs per day through Friday, June 6th. At which time flows in the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gorge should be in the 3,500 cfs to 4,000 cfs range depending on side-inflows."

From The Aspen Times: "Spring runoff might not hit the Roaring Fork Valley in one big flood, but in multiple waves, according to officials with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction...The Roaring Fork River near Aspen (which lists flooding at a level of 5 feet) is currently at 2.9 feet and is expected to reach 3.27 by Friday and 3.72 feet on June 3, according to a press release issued by Pitkin County staff. The Crystal River, south of Carbondale, also considered to be at flood stage at five feet, is currently at 3.94 feet."

Category: Colorado Water
6:53:15 PM    

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From The Brush News-Tribune: "Bids to construct Hillrose s new indoor water system were mostly right in line with earlier estimates when they were opened last Tuesday. The planned system will transport new Morgan County Quality Water District water to households in the town. When the project was planned four years ago, the cost was estimated at $1.7 million, but planners were unsure if that price might not be low given inflation in steel and fuel costs, said Town Clerk Lynn Golemboski...USDA representatives were at the bid opening, as required by regulations. Now the town's engineers will look closely at the bids to make sure they meet all the specifications. When that is done, the Hillrose Town Council will make a recommendation to the USDA, which will make the final decision, Golemboski said. Hillrose needed a new source of water when it was discovered that its current supply has more uranium in it than recommended by health officials, she said."

Category: Colorado Water
6:40:04 AM    

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Here's a look at treating drinking water to remove uranium and other radioactive isotopes, from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The state has spent $1 million so far to help small water systems deal with radioactive materials in water supplies. The eventual cost will be much greater, however, making alternatives such as the Arkansas Valley Conduit a more affordable option. "This is the biggest project the state has put on for this type of activity," Jon Erickson of the state Water Quality Control Division told the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District on Wednesday. "This is a long-standing issue. There are 45 systems that are going to be in violation as standards change."

"This is the biggest project the state has put on for this type of activity," Jon Erickson of the state Water Quality Control Division told the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District on Wednesday. "This is a long-standing issue. There are 45 systems that are going to be in violation as standards change." One-third of those are in the Arkansas Valley, where most water systems rely on groundwater. Those in violations are usually smaller water systems developed over the years to serve rural populations...

In the first phase of the study, systems with high levels of radionuclides were identified. In the Arkansas Valley, the problem is twofold: Those who tap into the deeper Dakota aquifer are likely to encounter high levels of radium, while the alluvial aquifer of the Arkansas River can be high in uranium, Erickson said. Of the 45 areas with problems, 33 voluntarily agreed to participate in further state studies to sample source water and develop engineering solutions. Currently, the state is trying to help communities identify funding sources. The project, formally called the Colorado Radionuclide Abatement and Disposal Strategy, is expected to be completed by the end of 2009...

Most of the systems in the Arkansas Valley are facing radium issues - a double-edged sword. On the one hand, radioactive particles can be removed from the water. Doing this creates radioactive waste, however, which can be expensive to dispose of safely. The levels of radioactivity are not an immediate health hazard, Erickson said. But long-term exposure increases the risk for kidney disease and certain kinds of cancer. "The risk builds up over time," Erickson said. "If we felt it was a risk, we'd recommend drinking bottled water, and obviously we haven't done that."

Category: Colorado Water
6:33:51 AM    

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Here's a recap of yesterday's public meeting about Colorado Springs' proposed Southern Delivery System, from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Concerns about Fountain Creek and the adequacy of an environmental review of a proposed water pipeline to Colorado Springs emerged Thursday at a meeting to gather comments on the proposed Southern Delivery System. The Bureau of Reclamation hosted the meeting at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center to flesh out public comments on SDS. The meeting was requested by U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., after many Puebloans expressed concern their comments were not being heard by Reclamation. About 100 attended.

A total of 18 people spoke to frequent applause on two common themes: Fountain Creek issues are not addressed in the draft environmental impact statement, and the document fails to live up to the National Environmental Policy Act. "My recommendation is to withdraw the draft EIS and improve it," said Dr. Velma Campbell. "The draft EIS appears to be crafted to present the proposed action in the best light." In his closing remarks, Salazar said a new EIS might be needed. "Frankly, I don't think it would be a bad idea," Salazar said. "I don't think it addresses the issues the people of the Arkansas Valley are concerned with."

Reclamation Area Manager Mike Collins, after hearing the comments, was noncommittal about how the suggestions would affect the final EIS. "We have listened to your comments and they will be addressed in the final EIS," Collins said...

Several people who live along Fountain Creek talked about how wastewater flows from a growing Colorado Springs have turned it into a river. "Before you put one more drop of water into it, you need to fix the damage done on Fountain Creek," said Jane Rhodes, who is a third-generation rancher on the creek. "Every time a flood comes, there's all this water and all the stuff in the water." State Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, said she does not agree with the decision of the Pueblo West Metro District to enter into SDS, and said she is worried that Colorado Springs and El Paso lack the resources and desires to fix Fountain Creek once a pipeline is in place...

Sal Pace, a Democrat running for state House District 46, said the full cost of dealing with increased flooding from more flows on Fountain Creek is not addressed in the draft EIS. He said it appeared that the cost to Colorado Springs and other SDS partners was the driving theme in the document. "A flood control facility would help control flows, sedimentation and would ultimately save everybody money who otherwise would have to deal with the cost of flooding," Pace said. Jane Rawlings, assistant publisher of The Pueblo Chieftain, agreed that flooding needs to be addressed. She criticized the EIS for not including other projects, such as a pipeline from Flaming Gorge that has been proposed by Aaron Million, a dam on Fountain Creek, the Super Ditch, the Arkansas Valley Conduit and other water projects. The growth of Colorado Springs has slowed as well, she said. "These are all things the bureau has not addressed in the draft EIS," Rawlings said. "These suggestions at the very least need further study by the bureau."[...]

"Both your open houses last month and even this meeting here tonight have been structured to include unnecessary and counterproductive barriers to effective communication and understanding," said Ross Vincent, senior consultant for the Sierra Club. Vincent said the draft EIS omits viable alternatives and legally required analysis of wetlands impacts. "This leads me to suggest that the bureau consider going back to the drawing board to produce a much improved version of this draft, or at least a supplement to the draft that corrects some of these egregious deficiencies," Vincent said. Joseph Santarella, an attorney for the coalition of labor and environmental groups that requested and got additional time to comment on the EIS in April, called the EIS a "foreordained formality," saying it possibly violates some sections of federal law. Santarella asked Reclamation to withdraw the draft EIS and "redefine the scope of environmental analysis to include other alternatives that do not ignore water reuse, water conservation and land use planning strategies or view rapid population growth and the tapping of the Arkansas Basin waters by the participants as the only alternative."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:25:00 AM    

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From "The city of Boulder has installed a Web cam to better monitor the flooding danger along Boulder Creek. The camera provides a live video feed of the creek and the picture refreshes every 30 seconds. It's located on the north side of the New Britain Building at 1101 Arapahoe Ave. In case of rising water, anyone can access the Web cam to keep an eye on the creek."

Category: Colorado Water
6:12:50 AM    

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Colorado has reached a $35 million settlement with the U.S. Army and Shell Oil Co. over groundwater pollution at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, according to The Denver Post. From the article:

Shell Oil Co. and the U.S. Army -- which produced all manner of chemicals from 1942 to 1982 at the arsenal, northeast of downtown Denver -- have agreed to pay the state $35 million in damages for polluting groundwater at the [Rocky Mountain Arsenal], state Attorney General John Suthers said Thursday. The amount is the largest environmental settlement in state history, and it comes in addition to work the two organizations are doing to clean up leftover groundwater and other pollution. "The settlement was 25 years in the making, but we believe it was very much worth the wait," Gov. Bill Ritter said at a news conference announcing the agreement...

Money from the settlement will go to a variety of open-space and land-restoration projects around the arsenal. Part of the settlement will be paid with a land donation to Commerce City valued at $1 million. The city, which borders the arsenal on three sides, will use the donated land as a gateway to a network of trails and greenbelts known as the Northeast Greenway Corridor. The final settlement figure includes $6.6 million the Army paid to build a water-treatment plant on the site in 1989. As the arsenal has been cleaned up, much of it has been turned into a wildlife refuge and some of it has been sold to Commerce City, where city leaders have built a new professional soccer stadium and city hall...

The Army created the 27-square-mile arsenal in 1942 out of Adams County farmland to produce chemical warfare agents including mustard gas and lewisite. In 1952, Shell began leasing portions of the arsenal to make pesticides and other toxic chemicals. In that production, Suthers said, the Army and Shell put chemical waste into pits that had inadequate or no seals, causing chemicals to leak into the groundwater. Several plumes of contaminated groundwater flowed to the north off the arsenal site. In 1983, the state attorney general's office sued Shell and the Army over the environmental damages. That lawsuit dragged on for more than two decades, and in recent years the state legislature approved more than $2.4 million to continue fighting the suit...

Jim Martin, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said the plume of contaminated groundwater is shrinking as cleanup work progresses. Shell and the Army have pumped more than $2.1 billion into cleaning up the site since 1995, and are expected to finish the job in 2010.

More coverage from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. They write:

The lawsuit stems from damage to natural resources on and around the 27-square-mile facility, which the Army used to produce chemical and incendiary weapons in World War II and which Shell used to produce insecticides, herbicides and pesticides from 1952 to 1982. Colorado sued the Army and Shell in 1983, alleging that the two entities' chemical production at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal had damaged the environment, including groundwater quality, at the site. The area, which was named a Superfund site in 1987, was turned into a national wildlife refuge in 1992. Former Attorney General and current U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., said the settlement will allow the state to not only repair the environmental damage to the site, but also, "preserve open space and wildlife habitats, restore water resources and provide new recreational opportunities for our citizens."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:00:58 AM    

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From The Longmont Times-Call: "Gov. Bill Ritter this week signed into law a package of bills he said would provide stronger tools for trying to keep Colorado's beetle-infected forests healthy...[Silverthorne Democratic Sen. Dan Gibbs'] Senate Bill 221 [pdf] authorizes the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority to issue up to $50 million in bonds to fund watershed protection and forest-health projects...'Removing all that dead timber will greatly reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires and help protect our forests, our water and our way of life,' Gibbs said."

Category: Colorado Water
5:49:44 AM    

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