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.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A picture named baldeagle.jpg

The Bald Eagle is back across the U.S. We see them along Clear Creek and up at Barr Lake.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:09:12 PM    

A picture named eagleriver.jpg

Here's an update on the court case about Denver's failure to develop water rights in the Eagle River basin, from the Vail Daily News (free registration required). From the article:

A trial deciding the fate of much of the water in Eagle County will be delayed until at least July and possibly even November. Testimony is close to wrapping up in the so-called "Denver Diligence" case, in which local water managers are challenging Denver's water rights in the Eagle River watershed. The trial was scheduled to finish this week. However, one witness for the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority and the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District couldn't be fit in the six scheduled court dates this month. Glenn Porzak, the district's attorney, said there are possible dates to finish in July, but if those don't work, the only guaranteed dates are in November. Denver will also want a day for rebuttal, he said. No matter when the trial finishes, Porzak said it's unlikely the judge will come back with a quick verdict...

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 local, they say. 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...

Denver Water hasn't started tunneling ditches or 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 as well as interests on the Piney River, north of Vail. Local water officials say Denver won't need that much water and will be in fact hoarding a valuable commodity. They argue that Denver is speculating with the water rights and may sell the water to developing communities near Denver for which they aren't responsible. If eventually Denver does develop a reservoir and pipe the water to the Front Range, it would strip the majority of the water out of the Eagle River watershed, which provides the recreational lifeblood of the local economy, Porzak has said.

Category: Colorado Water

6:36:49 AM    

A picture named fountaincreek.jpg

Colorado Springs Utilities has completed work on a spill recovery pond to help with pollution control on Fountain Creek, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the project is its simplicity. It uses an existing pond to release the equivalent amount of water captured during a spill and relies on gravity to do the work.

The system is designed to use the Stubbs-Miller diversion dam across Fountain Creek to capture the entire flow of Fountain Creek for four hours at flows of 170 cubic feet per second or less. The water would be stored in an 18-million-gallon, asphalt-lined pond for later pumping through the Las Vegas Treatment Plant. An equivalent amount of water stored in a second pond would be released immediately below the low-head dam during the capture. "It's designed to capture any spill (over 100 gallons)," Wood said. "There will be times when the flow will be too high to capture it." The recovery system is intended to be operated manually on the site as well, although electronic sensors are used to measure flows to make sure flows coming into the pond are balanced with flows going out...

The new pond was built on what had been an 11-acre weed patch. It's fed by a concrete spill channel that would be flooded by two 4-foot by 6-foot gates added to the existing headgate at the Stubbs-Miller dam. Two pumps at the low end could completely empty the pond in three days through the Sand Creek Lift Station, located just north of the ponds.

Category: Colorado Water

6:28:33 AM    

A picture named genderbendingpollution.jpg

Pharmaceuticals and other pollutants in the streams and rivers is the subject of this article from the Denver Post. They write:

Vail - Tiny amounts of antidepressants, hormones and detergent residues are making their way into river water in and around Colorado. Scientists say they still don't know if these new "emerging contaminants" are a threat to human health. More than 250 researchers, water-utility operators and federal regulators convened here this week to discuss the effects of these trace pollutants from the residues of medicines, shampoos and cleaners. "Why are we concerned?" asked Octavia Conerly, a project officer in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water. "A large number of chemicals are getting into the environment with known and unknown concentrations and effects," she said, noting that many of the chemicals are designed to affect the human hormone system. Many conference participants appeared to agree that trace contaminants in the outflow of wastewater-treatment plants are affecting downstream fish. Studies in Boulder and other U.S. cities have found fish with both male and female sex parts and populations of fish with many times more females than males...

Emerging contaminants are typically found in minute concentrations - parts per trillion or less, Lykens said. "But that's the level at which these chemicals normally work," said David Norris, an endocrinologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Norris' talk focused on so- called endocrine disruptors - natural and synthetic chemicals that slip through wastewater- treatment plants and affect growth, development, reproduction and metabolism in fish. "These chemical regulators work at very, very, very low concentrations," Norris said. "Any amount from any source is potentially a problem." Experts also presented ideas about how to reduce the levels of emerging contaminants in streams. Some cities are piloting pharmaceutical-buyback programs to keep people from dumping old drugs down the toilet. In the Netherlands and Germany, water managers are experimenting with new toilets that separate urine, the primary source of many emerging contaminants, from other wastewater.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:22:05 AM    

A picture named coloradohotsprings.jpg

Here's an article about the potential for tapping geothermal energy from the Rocky Mountain News. They write:

The federal government has embarked on an ambitious plan to tap a massive source of energy lying deep beneath public land in the West, including Colorado. And it's not oil and gas. This time it's geothermal energy, the heat under the surface. The energy in the form of hot water or steam can be used in geothermal power plants to produce round-the-clock electricity. The Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service are looking at areas in 11 Western states and Alaska best suited for geothermal energy development, and the likely social and environmental impact. Their final report will be completed in September 2008, and commercial leasing of areas will begin soon after. An open meeting will be held July 9 in Denver [Evergreen A Room, PPA Event Center, 2012 Decatur St., 4:30-7:30 p.m., July 9, BLM will have a 20-minute presentation, followed by a question-and-answer session with the public.] to gather public comments. Similar meetings will be held in Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Sacramento, Calif.; Reno, Nev.; and Salt Lake City...

The potential of geothermal energy worldwide is estimated at 50,000 times the world's oil and natural gas reserves, according to the Department of Energy. Colorado ranks fourth among states in the number of potential sites for geothermal power, according to a 2006 Western Governors Association report. With newer geothermal technologies, Colorado may be able to produce electricity, which previously was not considered. Geothermal power plants can provide consistent power similar to coal-fired power plants. They are virtually nonpolluting, emitting very low or no greenhouse gases. But their upfront cost, at $2,500 per installed kilowatt, is double that of a conventional coal plant. The Colorado Geological Survey identified areas close to Mount Princeton near Buena Vista, places in the San Juan Mountains near Ouray and Rico, and areas of the Raton Basin west of Trinidad as having abundant geothermal energy. The Governor's Energy Office and the Colorado Geological Survey have partnered to map the state's geothermal potential.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:15:33 AM    

A picture named oilshaledepositsutwyco.jpg

Here's an article about Congressman Udall's legislation that is designed to delay oil shale development until water, pollution and energy issues are solved, from the Summit Daily News (free registration required). From the article:

A measure intended to force the government to move slowly on efforts toward commercial production of oil shale on federal land won approval Wednesday in the U.S. House. The proposal by Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., to amend the 2008 Interior Department's appropriations bill, would prohibit the use of federal funds to prepare final regulations for a commercial leasing program or to conduct commercial lease sales. The Interior bill, passed by the House, now goes to the Senate. A proposal by Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, designed to exempt Utah and Wyoming from the funding restrictions failed...

Cannon said Udall's amendment is a major step back in the development of the country's oil resources. "Cowed by the environmental lobby, the majority today voted to put the plug back into one of the most promising and viable new sources of oil we have in the entire nation - the oil shale we have right here in Utah," Cannon said...

"Oil shale has potential as an energy source, but Colorado's Western Slope has had experience with a rush to development that ended up hurting our region's economy," Udall said. "My legislation will ensure that oil shale is developed in a responsible way." People still talk about "Black Sunday," May 2, 1982, when falling oil prices and vanishing government subsidies moved Exxon to shut down its $5 billion project near Parachute. The BLM is working on an environmental impact statement on commercial oil shale. The draft plan is expected later this summer...

Udall's amendment doesn't stop the research into oil shale, said Bob Randall, an attorney with Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates, an environmental law and policy group. He noted that Shell Frontier Oil and Gas Inc., considered the industry front-runner, is postponing work on its federal research site so it can refine its process. "By holding off commercial lease sales, I don't think it sets the industry back at all," Randall said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:06:48 AM    

A picture named tc4.jpg

NASA plans to conduct some research into tropical storms to determine their effect on global warming, according to the Daily India. From the article:

The Cape Canaveral-based National Aeronautics Space Agency (NASA) has announced plans to undertake a mission over Costa Rica and Panama in July and August to better understand how tropical storms influence global warming and stratospheric ozone depletion. According to Professor Brian Toon of the University of Colorado at Boulder, the massive field campaign is being undertaken at a cost of 12 million dollars. Professor Toon, who heads the university's atmospheric and oceanic sciences department, said the project would involve about 400 scientists, students and support staff operating three NASA aircraft, seven satellites and a suite of other instruments. He said the team will target the gases and particles that flow out of the top of the vigorous storm systems that form over the warm tropical ocean.

...tropical systems are the major mechanism for Earth's system to loft air into the upper troposphere and stratosphere and are characterized primarily by cumulus clouds with large dense anvils and wispy cirrus clouds. Known as the Tropical Composition, Cloud and Climate Coupling mission, or TC4, The expedition runs from July 16 through August 8, and will be NASA's largest field campaign in several years. The tropical storm systems under study pump air more than 40,000 feet above the surface, where they can influence the make-up of the stratosphere, home of Earth's protective ozone layer. One mission goal is to understand how transport of chemical compounds - both natural and man-made - occurs from the surface to the lower stratosphere, which is roughly 10 miles in altitude. Another goal is to understand the properties of high-altitude clouds and how they impact Earth' s radiation budget, Professor Toon said.

Toon said that he would be coordinating daily flights of three NASA aircraft filled with scientific instruments that will collect data in concert with NASA satellites. The aircraft include the ER-2 -- NASA's modern version of the Air Force U2-S reconnaissance aircraft -- which can reach an altitude of 70,000 feet and which will fly above the clouds and act as a "surrogate satellite," he said. The mission also includes a broad-winged WB-57 research plane that will fly into the cirrus clouds at 60,000 feet and sample cloud particles and the make-up of chemicals flowing from massive tropical storm systems. The third plane, a converted DC-8, will fly at about 35,000 feet to probe the region between Earth' s troposphere and stratosphere and sample cloud particles and air chemistry.

More coverage from Colorado University. They write:

A high-flying NASA mission over Costa Rica and Panama in July and August should help scientists better understand how tropical storms influence global warming and stratospheric ozone depletion, says a University of Colorado at Boulder professor who is one of two mission scientists for the massive field campaign. Brian Toon, chair of CU-Boulder's atmospheric and oceanic sciences department, said the $12 million effort will mobilize in San Jose, Costa Rica, and involve about 400 scientists, students and support staff operating three NASA aircraft, seven satellites and a suite of other instruments. The team is targeting the gases and particles that flow out of the top of the vigorous storm systems that form over the warm tropical ocean, said Toon.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

5:57:28 AM    

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2007 John Orr.
Last update: 6/30/07; 9:44:28 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.