Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

Subscribe to "Colorado Water" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A picture named shelloilshaleprocess2.jpg

Governor Ritter's review of the BLM's report on potential oil shale development in Colorado is due tomorrow. The bureau extended the original deadline two weeks after a request from Colorado and Wyoming. From Colorado Confidential:

Local northwest Colorado town and county officials and the governor's office were "sworn to secrecy." The federal government report was still in its draft stages and it was too early to inform the public or press about its contents. The matter was very urgent, the U.S. government agency said, therefore local entities had a short turn around time to respond to this secret plan. Very short--weeks. Some Coloradan officials felt the pressure from the federal government was unnecessarily intense and their goals unrealistic.

The BLM release date for the oil shale SEIS plan is set tentatively for July 13. There will be a 90-day public review period.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:19:47 PM    

A picture named sanluisvalley.jpg

DARCA: "A huge celebration is being planned to commemorate 100 Years of San Luis Valley Reservoirs. Three days, July 23, 24, and 25th will be filled with a wide variety of activities, including a full-day symposium at Adams State College entitled 'Water Storage in the San Luis Valley; the Past, the Present, and the Future.' There are also many fun, family activities, hayrides to the Rio Grande, Chamber of Commerce sponsored events and stagecoach rides in both Monte Vista and Alamosa, and tours of the reservoirs. The traveling exhibit and DVD produced for the celebration will be shown for the first time, as well as contest winners announced, lots of great music and good food. For details go to website:

Category: Colorado Water

7:10:19 AM    

A picture named jacksongulchreservoir.jpg

Here's an article about the proposed rehabilitation of the diversion structures for Jackson Gulch Reservoir, from the Cortez Journal. From the article:

A bill asking for $6.2 million to help rehabilitate an aging water system for Mancos Valley residents was introduced in the U.S. Senate in late May by Colorado Sens. Wayne Allard and Ken Salazar. Within a couple of weeks, a similar bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Colorado Rep. John Salazar. Gary Kennedy, superintendent of the Mancos Water Conservancy District, said the district would like to rehabilitate one mile of concrete box flume and four miles of earthen canal, which take water from the Mancos River to the Jackson Gulch Reservoir five miles north of Mancos and then back to the river. "While the canals are structurally sound, they don't hold water as well as they should," Kennedy said. "There is lots of seepage and lots of leakage." Kennedy estimated the district loses 20 percent of the water as it tries to fill Jackson Gulch Reservoir every spring. The project would line the canals with plastic to stop the leakage...

Since its construction in the late 1940s, Jackson Gulch Reservoir has provided supplemental agricultural water for about 237 farms and ranches with 8,650 irrigated acres plus a domestic water supply for Mesa Verde National Park, the 500 members of the Mancos Rural Water Co. and supplemental water for the town of Mancos, all of which operate their own water treatment plants. The West Mancos River provides the water that is stored in Jackson Reservoir, Kennedy said. Although the Mancos River flows year-round, "it basically dries to a trickle by mid-July," he said. Chicken Creek, Mud Creek, the East Mancos and Middle Mancos all converge into the Mancos River, but after spring runoff, the flow goes down to 15 or 20 cfs, so water users benefit from the 60 cfs of stored water the district puts into the river from Jackson Gulch Reservoir...

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation owns the facilities of the Mancos Project, but the Mancos Water Conservancy District is the operating entity, responsible for maintenance. The district assesses members who use its water and also collects taxes from residents within the district. A state park there provides camping, fishing and recreation. In 1995, a small 25-kV hydroelectric plant was built. The plant sells power back to the electrical grid to help the water district with its expenses...

If everything sails through Congress this year, it probably will be two years before the money is available and work can get under way, he said. Another three to four years would be needed to complete the work because it can only be done during late summer and fall to avoid interrupting water flow. The total cost of the project is $8 million, with the federal government being asked to fund 80 percent of that.

Category: Colorado Water

6:17:32 AM    

A picture named uppersouthplattebasin.jpg

According to Great Outdoors Colorado has funded 19 conservation easements up in South Park. From the article:

Thanks to $5 million from Great Outdoors Colorado, conservation easements have been secured for 19 ranches in the Colorado mountain basin called South Park. The funding saves historic ranches and great expanses of open space in south central Colorado for the future. Several ranchers have opened up portions of their property to fishermen who pay no more than $60 per day for access to pristine trout waters. The added income is used by ranchers to restore river banks, grasslands and historic buildings, making the area rich for "heritage tourism."[...]

The region's new conservation easements now protect important stretches of South Park's ranches from future development. Not only does that safeguard rare vistas, it also protects valuable open space and preserves a precious Colorado heritage. "The integrity and authenticity of this 1,000 square mile basin has been changed very little over the last 100 years," Nichols said. Seeing their agricultural legacy as an asset, the visionaries of the South Park are now growing with the idea of "heritage tourism."

Category: Colorado Water

5:30:38 AM    

A picture named coloradoriverbasins.jpg

Here's a preview of this week's Arkansas River Basin Roundtable meeting from the Pueblo Chieftain. They write:

Recreation will be center-stage this week when the Arkansas Basin Roundtable meets in Poncha Springs. Presentations at the meeting will look at boating and fishing along the Arkansas River, including a review of lakes in the upper part of the basin. The roundtable also will discuss how its efforts fit into an overall state plan. "This is a good opportunity for those who want to talk about recreation to attend a roundtable meeting," said Alan Hamel, president of the roundtable. The meeting is scheduled from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds, located west of Salida in Poncha Springs...

Rick Brown of the CWCB staff will discuss the agency's efforts to incorporate uses of water other than the traditional agricultural, municipal and industrial uses accounted for in past planning efforts. Future water needs will have to look at new recreational water rights, as well as concerns for fisheries, wildlife and environmental water quality. The voluntary flow agreement for recreational purposes between Twin Lakes and Lake Pueblo is an example of how emerging water needs in the Upper Arkansas have been combined with water supply concerns of users in the lower end of the valley, Hamel said...

The [voluntary flow program] is an agreement among the Bureau of Reclamation, the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, rafters, fishermen and others to augment flows for rafting until mid-August, and to maintain flows beneficial to fisheries at other times of the year. The water used to support flows in the river is transmountain water from the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, sometimes provided by other users like the Pueblo Board of Water Works, where Hamel is executive director. Since the voluntary flow program began in 1990, the rafting industry on the Upper Arkansas has grown into a $70 million a year business for the area. The state, as it developed the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, has begun leasing water for both recreation and wildlife needs.

Recreational in-channel diversions are a new kind of water right that has been granted for two kayak courses in Chaffee County and one in Pueblo County. State water officials have struggled to understand how the water rights should be incorporated into the hierarchy of existing and future appropriations. The roundtable's role will be to help the state Interbasin Compact Committee make its recommendations to the CWCB as part of the needs assessment, said Hamel, who is also an IBCC member.

The South Platte Roundtable Meeting is on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. at Southwest Weld County Bldg. 4209 Weld County Rd 24 1/2.

The Metro Roundtable Meeting is Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. at Parker Water and Sanitation District North Reclamation Plant 18100 E. Woodman Dr.

Meeting information can be found here.

Category: Colorado Water

5:23:06 AM    

A picture named oilshaledepositsutwyco.jpg

Here's a look at oil shale development from the Deseret News. They write:

Colorado and Utah have as much oil as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Nigeria, Kuwait, Libya, Angola, Algeria, Indonesia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates combined. That's not science fiction. Trapped in limestone up to 200 feet thick in the two Rocky Mountain states is enough so-called shale oil to rival OPEC and supply the U.S. for a century. Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., the two biggest U.S. energy companies, and Royal Dutch Shell Plc are spending $100 million a year testing new methods to separate the oil from the stone for as little as $30 a barrel. A growing number of industry executives and analysts say new technology and persistently high prices make the idea feasible. "The breakthrough is that now the oil companies have a way of getting this oil out of the ground without the massive energy and manpower costs that killed these projects in the 1970s," said Pete Stark, an analyst at IHS Inc., an Englewood, Colo., research firm. "All the shale rocks in the world are going to be revisited now to see how much oil they contain."[...]

Energy providers are investing in shale oil production because the reserves are large enough to generate higher returns than smaller fields in Oklahoma and Texas, where output is declining after eight decades. Shale is also a more attractive investment than new U.S. refineries, which Shell and Chevron say may lose money as rising use of crop-based fuels such as ethanol lowers domestic gasoline demand. Exxon says it isn't interested in building new fuel plants in the U.S. because the company expects North American fuel consumption to peak by 2025...

In the high desert near Rifle, Colo., Shell engineers are burying hundreds of steel rods 2,000 feet underground that will heat the shale to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature at which Teflon melts. The heat will be applied for the next four years to convert the hydrocarbons from dead plants and plankton, once part of a prehistoric lake, into high-quality crude that is equal parts jet fuel, diesel and naphtha, the main ingredient in gasoline.

Chevron, which helped build the Saudi Arabian energy industry when it struck oil in the kingdom in 1938, plans to shatter 200-foot thick layers of shale deep underground, said Robert Lestz, the company's oil-shale technology manager. Rather than using heat to transform the shale into crude, Chevron plans to saturate the rubble with chemicals to convert it. The method will reduce power needs and production costs, Lestz said in a May 24 interview. Using chemical reactions to get oil from shale also means fewer byproducts such as ash and fewer greenhouse gases, he said. Chevron scientists are working with researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to determine which chemicals work best for converting shale to crude oil. Shell's heating technique amounts to "a brute-force approach," said Lestz, who is based in Houston.

Raytheon Co., the maker of Tomahawk missiles and the first microwave ovens, is developing a process that would use radio waves to cook the shale.

Exxon Mobil, based in Irving, Texas, plans to shoot particles of petroleum coke, a waste by-product of oil refining, into cracks in the shale. The coke will be electrically charged to create a subterranean hot plate that will cook the shale until it turns into crude...

Shell, based in the Hague, estimates it can extract oil from Colorado shale for $30 a barrel, less than half the recent price of about $66 for benchmark New York futures. Shell's process includes surrounding each shale field with an underground wall of ice. The so-called freeze walls are to prevent groundwater from swamping the heating rods and to protect the local water supply from contamination as the organic material in the rocks turns to oil, according to Terry O'Connor, the Shell vice president in charge of the company's Colorado shale project.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

5:08:35 AM    

A picture named johnmartinreservoir.jpg

From Saturday's Denver Post, "The Colorado Division of Wildlife and Colorado Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation have joined to purchase an additional 2,000 acre feet of water for storage in John Martin Reservoir, near Las Animas. The water will be added to the permanent storage pool of a reservoir that has suffered severe drawdown from recent drought, but this year has received a substantial water boost from strong runoff on the Arkansas River."

Category: Colorado Water

4:55:03 AM    

A picture named nukeplantcattenomfrance.jpg

The Greeley Tribune (free registration required) is running a short article about the price of uranium and Powertech's proposed in-situ mining project up in Weld County. From the article:

Keith Kohl, editor of, said in his latest report that the price of uranium has increased from $20 a pound in 2005 to a current level of $120 per pound. He does not see that upward trend to stop any time soon. "I expect uranium to top $255 a pound by the end of 2008," Kohl said in the report. Kohl said the price is being driven by a demand for nuclear power. Only 60 percent of the requirements of the world's nuclear power is being supplied. About 16 percent of the world's electricity is supplied from 440 nuclear generators. But Kohl said there are 29 new reactors under construction and another 66 are being planned. Japan intends to add 11 more by 2010, and China hopes to add 24-30 by 2020, he said. The supply-demand balance for uranium, he said, is tighter than any other major commodity. Energy and Capital, an online journal dedicated to energy, said finding highly concentrated deposits of uranium in large quantities is difficult. More than 50 percent of all the uranium produced from mines comes from Canada and Australia.

In Weld, Powertech plans to use a method called in-situ recovery, a process that mining companies say is safer than traditional operations. The process is done by injecting a bicarbonate solution that will mobilize the uranium. Blubaugh said Powertech's drilling should be a couple of hundreds of feet deep and will create some noise but not as much as an oil-drilling site, which drills thousands of feet below ground level. There are, however, residents in Weld who have said that process will destroy their drinking water. They have organized to protest any mining operations.

Uranium mining in Weld: Uranium mining is not new to Weld County. Uranium test sites were done in 1979 in the Grover and Keota area -- According to Carol Shwayder's book on Weld County history, the Wyoming Mineral Corp. of Fort Collins operated a leaching plant at the site; A year ago, Powertech Uranium Corp. bought the mineral rights to the 5,780 acres of land from Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Blubaugh said the company before Anadarko -- Rocky Mountain Energy Co. -- tested sites in northern Colorado and found uranium deposits throughout.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

4:46:15 AM    

A picture named abandonedmineco.jpg

Here's an article about the cleanup up in the Peru Basin from the Summit Daily News (free registration required). They write:

New rules issued June 6 by the Environmental Protection Agency will speed up efforts to clean up pollution from orphaned mines by addressing some of the thorny liability issues up front. Voluntary projects have long been stymied by threats of a third-party lawsuit. The new rules make it clear where those liabilities begin and end, said the EPA's Nat Miullo...

At the same time, he emphasized that the changes will not undercut any existing environmental protections or affect liability at sites where a responsible party has been identified. "If someone disposes of mine waste in an inappropriate spot, we don't want to release them from liability," he said...

While the EPA deserves credit for taking this step, Russell said it still doesn't get to the heart of the liability issue, which relates to liability for pollution under the Clean Water Act. "I don't want anyone to think this is it," Russell said, explaining that an act of Congress is needed to address those fundamental Clean Water Act issues. Past agreements on voluntary cleanups have sometimes taken years to complete. "The mother of all these was French Gulch," he said, referring to an arduous multi-year stakeholder negotiation that eventually led to a remediation plan at the site of the Wellington-Oro Mine, with construction of a water treatment plan planned for this year. In EPA jargon, the new rules means the "EPA and volunteer parties will now be able to enter into Good Samaritan settlement sgreements (that) provide key legal protections to Good Samaritans as non-liable parties including: a federal covenant not to sue under CERCLA and protection from third-party contribution suits. Other tools include a model comfort letter intended for Good Samaritan parties. Good Samaritans to proceed with qualified projects, including efforts to remove and cap waste rock, tailings piles and soils contaminated with high levels of lead, arsenic, zinc, and other metals in areas where they threaten human health and water quality.

Category: Colorado Water

4:38:46 AM    

A picture named eagleriver.jpg

The Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority and the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District are hoping to get the water court to throw out Denver's water rights in the Eagle River Basin, according to the Vail Daily News (free registration required). From the article:

In the 1960s, the city and county of Denver bought up water rights on the Western Slope, including hundreds of thousands of acres in the Vail Valley. To keep water though, you have to use it -- or at least prepare to use it in the future. Hoarding unneeded water isn't allowed in Colorado. Every six years, Denver goes through the paper shuffle of water court to prove it's being diligent in using the water in some way or another. This is also a chance for someone to challenge those rights. The Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority and the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District pounced on that opportunity in 2002, arguing that Denver doesn't need the water and hasn't done enough to keep those water rights. Instead, that water should stay in the Vail Valley, they say. Now there will be a water trial that could have a profound impact on the future of the valley's water supply...

Denver is interested in close to 200,000 acre feet of water between Vail and Wolcott, which planners say is part of their long term vision for providing water to residents, a plan that reaches past 2030. They say people who don't plan that far ahead are caught without water and that water projects in metro areas take a long time to finish. They cite a water right purchased in 1902 and developed in the 1980s as an example. The big question will be if Denver has done enough in 35 years to prove that it can and will use the water rights in the Vail Valley. Glenn Porzak, the district's attorney, has said there's little to show for their planning -- meaning they haven't shown diligence in developing the water. Denver Water hasn't started tunneling ditches and laying down pipes, but they say hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested in surveys and studies on developing a large reservoir in Wolcott and interests on the Piney River, north of Vail.

Category: Colorado Water

4:31:41 AM    

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2007 John Orr.
Last update: 7/1/07; 8:33:32 AM.
June 2007
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
May   Jul

e-mail John: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.