Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Friday, June 22, 2007

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Most of the ramifications of using wastewater for irrigation are unknown. A recent report shows that pharmaceuticals are measurable in soil irrigated with treated wastewater, according to Water Technology Online. From the article:

The US Geological Survey (USGS) published on its Web site in May a summary of a study conducted by a team of USGS scientists in which the scientists reported that pharmaceuticals in wastewater used for irrigation persist in soil for several months after the irrigation stopped for the season. Scientists who conducted the study, which was reported in Volume 25, Issue 2 (February 2006) of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, monitored three sites in Colorado from May through September 2003 to assess the presence and distribution of pharmaceuticals in soil irrigated with reclaimed water from an urban sewage treatment plant. Scientists tested soil cores they had collected monthly before, during and after the irrigation season for the presence of 19 pharmaceuticals, such as caffeine, antibiotics and pain relievers...

All 19 of the pharmaceuticals in the study were found in soil cores. The four most commonly detected pharmaceuticals were the antibiotic erythromycin, the anticonvulsant carbamazepine, the antidepressant fluoxetine, and diphenhydramin, an antihistamine. Scientists found that several of the pharmaceuticals detected in the soil cores increased in concentration during the study, suggesting that the soil retained or absorbed the pharmaceuticals. They also found that several other pharmaceuticals appeared to be transported through the soil zone to greater depths.

Category: Colorado Water

6:02:40 AM    

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Here's a look at Colorado's problems around fulfilling the Republican River Compact requirements for water in the river, from the Sterling Journal Advocate. From the article:

In order for the state of Colorado to achieve compliance with the Republic River Compact signed in 1942 by Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska, many meetings have taken place and several options attempted. However, the state is not even close to compliance, as Kansas and Nebraska are not receiving their portion of water carved out in the compact. The state engineer's office is now in the process of having "Compact Rules" drawn, which, when completed, will have far-reaching ramifications in this area. Chief Deputy Engineer Ken Knox said they would have several public meetings within the basin to receive comments from well owners. These public meetings will begin taking place in the very near future. The final draft of Compact Rules will then be submitted to the Colorado Water Court for approval. Once the rules are approved by the court, they will go into effect. Knox has said he would hope to have "Compact Rules" in effect for 2008. The state will be responsible for the Compact Rules, including the enforcement of them...

"It is the job of the Republican River Water Conservation District board to help find a way to get into compliance with the compact with the least amount of disruption to the economy," said David Robbins, attorney for the Republican River Water Conservation District. "It is up to the state of Colorado to get into compliance with the Republican River Compact." If irrigators have not signed up for voluntary retirement programs before Compact Rules are placed into effect, they will not receive any compensation for the loss of their wells, he added. At this point in time, there appears to be a possibility that in order to come close to reaching the necessary goals, irrigation wells running within three miles of the South and North forks of the Republican River, along with the Arikaree River, will be ordered shut down. Along with the pumping of these wells, Bonny Reservoir will in all probability be drained, and surface water rights will also be shut down. If all of the above is done, there is a chance Colorado could meet its obligations to comply with the Republican River Compact of 1942...

There has been some controversy about draining Bonny Reservoir, as most individuals believed this would be a one time "quick fix" to help meet compliance. It would not be a one-time "quick fix" -- it would be permanent as long as Colorado is not in compliance with the Compact. Evaporation and seepage from Bonny Reservoir is charged to Colorado as beneficial consumptive use under the Compact. In recent years, the evaporation and seepage from Bonny Reservoir have been approximately 4,800 acre feet per year. If Bonny Reservoir has no water stored in it, no evaporation and seepage is counted against Colorado under the Republican River Compact of 1942. Draining the reservoir would, therefore, lower Colorado's beneficial consumptive use by approximately 4,800 acre feet each year. There has been talk about a compact compliance pipeline. This would require between 80 and 100 center pivots to be purchased as a water supply and used toward the compliance. The lands irrigated by these wells would be retired permanently from agriculture production. In all probability, these wells would be located north of Wray...

In regard to the settlement agreement reached by Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska in 2002, it provided for the dismissal of all claims for damages through Dec. 15, 2002, and all three states agreed that compact accounting would be done based on a five-year running average, beginning in 2003. The first five-year period ends at the end of 2007. Colorado's beneficial consumptive use has exceeded its Compact Allocation in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 by approximately 11,000 acre feet of water each year. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that congressional consent to an interstate compact transforms it into a law of the United States and that unless the compact to which Congress has consented is somehow unconstitutional, no court may order relief inconsistent with its express terms. Therefore, unless the states reach a settlement between themselves, the Court has said it must enforce the terms of the Compact as written. In other words, unless Kansas and Nebraska are willing to forego their right to enforce the Compact, Colorado has no choice other than to get into compliance.

Category: Colorado Water

5:55:39 AM    

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U.S. Senator Wayne Allard is working on getting Bayfield $400,000 for their treatment plant, according to the Pine River Times. From the article:

There may be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel in regards to Bayfield's sanitation issues. United States Senator Wayne Allard announced that he has secured $400,000 for a clean water project in Bayfield in the 2008 Interior Appropriations bill...

According to Justin Clifton, town and sewer district manager, the bill was co-sponsored by Senator Ken Salazar. The proposal is currently at subcommittee which has approved the bill and has yet to go through the Appropriations Committee. Clifton informed the board at Tuesday night's meeting that in addition to the support of the senators Bayfield also has support in the house...

The town is planning on taking over the sewer district the first of January 2008. The sewer district would like to make $500,000 worth of improvements to the existing sewage system to satisfy the needs of downstream water users until a new plant can be built.

The Times previously reported that the new proposed plant has been estimated at a cost of $6.5 million. According to Clifton the new plant would provide the town of Bayfield with the "best technology...which could save the town $60,000 a year in operations."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

5:43:20 AM    

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The Blue River above Green Mountain Reservoir is a free river right now, according to the Summit Daily News (free registration required). From the article: "Recent warm temperatures have boosted runoff in the Blue River Basin, leading to the highest flows in 10 years in the Blue River below Green Mountain Reservoir. This week, the Bureau of Reclamation ramped up from Green Mountain Reservoir from about 1,800 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 2,700 cfs, just above the 2,600-cfs flood threshold for the river...And with Green Mountain's junior refill call satisfied, the Blue River above the reservoir is now a 'free' river, with all upstream users free to divert water for irrigation."

Category: Colorado Water

5:36:29 AM    

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Here's a short follow-up article about Palmer Lake's plans for keeping water in their lake, from the Colorado Springs Gazette. They write:

Trading treated sewer water for lake water might sound strange, but it's normal for some Colorado lakes, including two of the three lakes that give northern El Paso County's Tri-Lakes region its name. Monument Lake and Lake Woodmoor each receive water from Monument Creek in exchange for treated wastewater, or effluent, dumped back into the creek elsewhere...

The issue of trading treated effluent for lake water has been discussed recently by Palmer Lake's Awake the Lake committee, a group charged with regenerating the town's namesake -- and the Tri-Lakes area's third body of water. The town is pursuing storage rights to keep water in the lake and another plan to get water into it. Mayor Max Parker said the plan might fill the lake by taking water from a town reservoir and replacing it with water from a capped town well. Committee member Jeff Hulsmann said he thinks the town should consider replacing the water with treated wastewater. That's what Woodmoor does.

Category: Colorado Water

5:28:01 AM    

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