Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Sunday, July 8, 2007

Daily Kos: "Imagine if the very foundation of cutting edge research science could be streamlined using the real-time, online blogging community model powered by the open source format familiar to all of us? Sci-blogger and friend Coturnix has been tasked to develop the community aspect of this idea, and he's asking for scientists and science buffs alike to see if that traditional peer review process can benefit from our novel methods at the Public Library of Science (PLoS)."

Meanwhile here's the link to Colorado Confidential's Science Sunday.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

8:11:54 AM    

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Here's a report about reservoir levels in northeastern Colorado from The Sterling Journal Advocate. From the article, "Brent Schantz, river commissioner for this section of the South Platte River, reported area reservoirs the following percentages full as of June 30: North Sterling -- 89 percent; Prewitt -- 93 percent; Jumbo -- 93 percent; Riverside -- 91 percent; Jackson -- 99 percent; Empire -- 92 percent.

Category: Colorado Water

8:00:17 AM    

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From The Sterling Journal Advocate, "Drinking water in Merino has tested above acceptable limits for uranium, and the town is suggesting people find an alternative source for water, according to the town's water systems operator...

More from the article:

"Our water system recently violated a drinking water standard," said Carl Briggs, a water systems operator for the city of Sterling and for Merino, in a letter sent out to Merino residents July 3. "Although this is not an emergency, as our customers, you have a right to know what happen(ed), what you should do, and what we are doing to correct this situation." The letter explained that drinking water is routinely monitored for contaminants, and that this is not something to be overly worried about -- rather people should be aware. "Testing results for four (4) consecutive quarters ending on December 31, 2006, show that our system exceeds the standard or maximum contaminant level (MCL), for Uranium," Briggs wrote in the letter. He explained that the standard for uranium is 30 micrograms per liter, and the average level of uranium over the last year was 49.25 micrograms per liter. He said in an interview that the standard was lowered in January of 2006 from 60 micrograms per liter to 30, and the four consecutive quarters that Merino's drinking water tested above that level brought about the violation. Although the letter tells residents that this is not an emergency, it also suggests they don't drink the water. "Because of the high levels of Uranium, it is recommended that you use an alternative drinking water supply," Briggs wrote. He suggested bottled water or other sources with levels of uranium known to be below 30 micrograms per liter. He said that as far as he knows, it is still safe to bathe and cook with the water...

In an interview he said that the maximum contaminant levels are set with the idea that it would take decades to develop harmful side effects from them. He also said that different age groups aren't effected differently than others by exposure to uranium like they are by some other contaminants. Briggs said in the letter that the uranium comes from erosion of natural deposits in the ground and are naturally occurring. To fix the problem, Merino is working with the state through a program called Colorado Radionuclide (CO-RADS) that will help determine the best way to remove uranium from drinking water, Briggs said. He said that some wells in Sterling test high for uranium, and both towns will have to find a way to fix the problem. He said that Sterling has had an engineering company on retainer for three years looking at this problem to find the best way to tackle it. They haven't moved forward with anything yet because they want to use the right approach, Briggs said. The letter explained that there is no exact time frame for when this problem will be fixed, but Merino residents will be informed when there are developments.

Category: Colorado Water

7:53:05 AM    

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Here's a look at Colorado Springs Utilities shiny new treatment plant from The Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

The [J.D. Phillips Water Reclamation Facility] will be dedicated Friday and open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a public tour Saturday...

Although bordered by industrial neighbors, its location mandated that residents help plan it, Utilities officials said. After 50 public meetings that spanned years, the plant sports a design not unlike Invesco Field, sits behind a retaining wall and is 10 feet below the grade of Mark Dabling. Painted blue, it has lids on all phases of operation and features two chemical processes to clean the air. "Because this plant is in the middle of the city, odor control is a huge issue," said plant superintendent Jay Hardison. "Our commitment to the public was, we would do whatever we could do with odor control."

The facility uses a wet chemical scrub process and another using carbon to remove odors before air is emitted from two 48-inch diameter pipes about four stories tall. The plant began test runs May 14, and so far, so good. "We haven't really told anybody we were doing it," Hardison said, "and I haven't received any odor complaints." The plant is discharging treated wastewater into an interceptor line for final treatment at the Las Vegas plant. That's because Utilities officials want to be certain the plant is working properly before discharging treated water into Monument Creek...

The plant also has a backup energy source to keep it running in case of a power failure. That's crucial because the $80 million plant uses ultraviolent radiation, rather than chlorine, as a final treatment process. UV bulbs, powered by electricity, alter DNA in pathogens such as E. coli bacteria, rendering them harmless. The plant, named for a former Utilities official, was necessary because of growth, Mitchell said. It will process 20 million gallons a day when in full swing later this month and is capable of reclaiming 11 million gallons a day for nonpotable use at surrounding parks, golf courses and Colorado College[base ']s grounds. Mitchell said Utilities transferred six employees from other jobs to run the plant, which is designed to operate with little human oversight.

Category: Colorado Water

7:41:18 AM    

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Everyone is invited down to the San Luis Valley July 23rd-25th to celebrate 100 Years of San Luis Valley Reservoirts, according to The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The start of irrigation in Colorado in 1852 was the work of Hispanic settlers in the San Luis Valley. "We got to thinking that the next biggest thing that happened in irrigation in the San Luis Valley was the building of the reservoirs and that happened in 1907," he said. "It's time to have another 100-year celebration because that was a pretty big event, and people need to know about it." The year in which the federal government lifted an embargo for irrigation storage in the valley became the cornerstone of the event that Getz, his wife, Camille, and a 17-member committee spent the last year and a half planning for. Guided tours of the area's reservoirs will open the four-day celebration. People can sign up for a two-day tour of reservoirs across the entire valley or shorter ones that will take place on July 23 and focus on smaller areas. The third day will feature a symposium at Adams State College on the past, present and future of water storage in the valley. Recently retired state engineer Hal Simpson will discuss groundwater well regulation and subdistricts. A panel discussion, including Rio Grande Compact commissioners from New Mexico, Texas and Colorado, will focus on the future of water storage in the basin...

The banquet will cost $16 per person and the tours will be $40 per individual, but the symposium on July 24 is free and open to the public. Check out the 100 Years of San Luis Valley Reservoirs.

Category: Colorado Water

7:32:44 AM    

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Here's Part I of a new Denver Post series about the South Platte River. From the article:

Abused for a century's worth of convenience as a storm drain, sewer and dump below a barrage of dams used to quench an insatiable urban and agricultural thirst, the South Platte has grown up under the pressure of unachievable potential to be all things to all people. And while recreation might not be the first thing to spring to mind about this unheralded river, the opportunities for activity throughout the drainage are as wide and varied - fishing, kayaking, climbing, camping and hiking - as its many tributaries. The abundance has never been more evident, with last winter's cycle of upslope storms resulting in the river's biggest runoff since 1995, as it returns to life after a decade of subpar snow, drought and wildfire...

With a basin draining 19,020 square miles, "Denver's river" is smaller than the Arkansas River - the state's largest river basin at 24,904 square miles - and the fabled Colorado River Basin at 22,200. Yet the South Platte Basin is the most populous, diverse and industrialized basin in the state, and the river is the most developed and overappropriated of Colorado's major streams. Throughout its journey from the headwaters in Platte Gulch on the flank of 14,286-foot Mount Lincoln, just south of Hoosier Pass, the South Platte serves many masters. About half of Denver's water comes from the South Platte, a seemingly significant amount until compared to the more than 80 percent pulled out of the drainage for irrigation on the eastern plains.

Please be sure to read the whole article.

Here's a short companion article about the South Platte as a fishery, from The Denver Post. From the article:

Any current consideration of fishing affairs in the South Platte River system brings to mind an old western movie classic. Give a drumroll for the good, the bad and the ugly. Fortunately, there's considerably more good to South Platte Basin fishing than bad. But the ugly may stay with us for years. It all goes something like this: The Good - It begins with the fact that half the population of Colorado can reach virtually every piece of fishing water in this basin inside a two-hour drive...

The Bad - Many of the same elements that make the South Platte system good also render it something less than desirable for those who cherish an element of solitude in the outdoor experience. With a couple million people pounding at its door, the river often suffers horribly from overuse...

The Ugly - Fire seldom serves as a river's friend. In the example of the South Platte's lower reaches, the 2002 Hayman blaze spelled disaster. Although the main stem largely escaped scarring, some 138,000 acres of the immediate watershed were reduced to ash that through subsequent flooding continues to wash into the stream.

Category: Colorado Water

7:14:10 AM    

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