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, July 16, 2007

A picture named southplattedenvermetro.jpg

Here's the last report in The Denver Post's series on recreational opportunities along the South Platte River. From the article:

The late James Michener, in his 1974 novel "Centennial," called Denver's despised rivulet "a sad, bewildered nothing of a river....It is the butt of more jokes than any other river on earth, and the greatest joke is to call it a river at all." Three decades later, Michener would not recognize the South Platte. Dozens of parks flank the metro river. Water quality, while still nasty after a big rain, is improving. Trails carve through ribbons of green flanking the river, offering access to the metro area's former backwater, which now teems with blue heron, brown trout and the occasional fox despite its spitting distance from metro Denver's busiest thoroughfares. With the most bountiful runoff since 1995 elevating the restorative and enhancing work of the past decade - work that finally dignifies the South Platte's long overlooked recreational opportunities - this is indeed The Year of the Platte. And it's only getting better.

Federal funding is close to arriving to revamp Public Service Company's Zuni Power Plant, where an inflatable dam represents the sole mandatory portage along the river in the metro area. Plans are underway with the Army Corps of Engineers to add at least 10 feet of water to Chatfield Reservoir, which would not only provide water storage for communities upstream and agricultural interests downstream but would add water to the river rushing through Denver...

[Former mayor Wellington Webb] funneled about $1 billion in public money into new streets, parks, trails, wildlife and water-quality improvements and economic development incentives in what is known as the Central Platte Valley. The investment was quickly followed by condo developers eager to tap the new river as a frontyard and playground. The city in the late 1990s led the country in what became a national greenbelt revolution. The accumulation of ribbons of green parks and open space along the river's corridor began shortly after the infamous flood of 1965, when heavy rains near Castle Rock fueled a wall of water in the South Platte that devastated the city core and killed more than two dozen people. That flood spurred Congress to finance the construction of the already-approved Chatfield Dam and prodded several municipalities along the river to acquire flood-ravaged land for parks and open space.

Category: Colorado Water

7:10:39 AM    

A picture named fountaincreek.jpg

Officials in Colorado Springs are looking at their development rules along streams and waterways, according to The Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

A proposal to remove protection for 4,000 acres adjacent to Colorado Springs' streams and creeks ran aground last week when challenged by citizens and City Council members. The council will reconsider the measure Aug. 14 after more public comment is gathered. The proposal would be a major overhaul of the 2002 streamside overlay zone ordinance designed to guide development near streams and surrounding wildlife habitat in a way that's compatible with the environment. The current ordinance includes buffer zones and says what can or can't be built in streamside areas. It also includes landscape requirements and limits on impervious areas. Since the measure passed in 2002, 75 streamside projects have been approved, with half being granted exemptions from some requirements.

Ryan Tefertiller, the city planner overseeing the rewrite, said the council directed staff to revisit the ordinance a year after its passage. During that process, the staff and developers found the ordinance too complicated. Some provisions have never been exercised because of their complexity, he said, such as "density bonus al- lowances" that allow more dense development based on a complicated formula even the staff wasn't sure how to apply. The new proposal would reduce the buffer areas, scale back the protected area from the 500-year flood plain to the 100-year flood plain and expand who can develop by converting some banned uses to conditional uses subject to approval by city officials. Among those conditional uses would be laundries, manufacturing, warehousing, commercial kennels, detention facilities, light industry, truck terminals and large recycling centers. Some of those uses were banned in the past to prevent animal waste, vehicle oil and other contaminants from polluting nearby streams.

"We believe through the planning process these uses can be designed and mitigated in a way where they can have compatibility," Tefertiller told the council. Mayor Lionel Rivera wasn't sure. He said the council has grown more sensitive to the condition of city streams and creeks, which flow into Fountain Creek and on to Pueblo. Repeated sewage spills in recent years have angered Pueblo officials, who might dictate how Colorado Springs Utilities builds a water pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir. The project is needed to assure a water supply for the next 35 years. "Now the council is a lot more concerned about water quality and quantity," Rivera said, noting that neither is addressed in the revision's analysis. "I think it deserves a more thorough look at that."

Category: Colorado Water

6:12:47 AM    

A picture named derrick.jpg

Here's a look at the Roan Plateau and the controversy about developing it for oil and gas, from The Glenwood Springs Post Independent (free registration required). From the article:

Two staff members with Trout Unlimited (TU) filled an SUV with journalists to show them what's at stake on the Roan Plateau, and the drive along its ridges had led to the opportunity to fish in the creek. It's one of a couple of creeks on the plateau known to hold populations of almost genetically pure populations of Colorado River cutthroat trout. A sizable population is on Trapper Creek, where the anglers were to visit the next day...

It was a relaxing break for Fisher and Chris Hunt, an Idaho resident and TU's communications director on public lands issues. But Thursday's media tour was being conducted for more serious reasons, the same ones that had U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., grilling James Caswell in Washington that day over his nomination to be director of the BLM. Like Goddard, Salazar and TU object to the BLM letting drill rigs on top of the Roan. Salazar has said he would place a Senate "hold" on Caswell's nomination until the Department of Interior gives Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, a fellow Democrat, the 120 days he has requested to review the Roan plan...

Beyond the Roan's rim, the desert gives over entirely to rolling, lush country full of wildflowers and aspen trees, and valleys running with spring-fed streams. Grouse, red-tailed hawk, elk and other animals make appearances in a place where deer, bear and mountain lion also abound...

The drilling plan for the plateau calls for rigs to operate from ridge tops, to protect watersheds. But Goddard thinks the quarter-mile buffer zones around creeks are insufficient because many of the creeks are fed by springs that are farther away. "All you've got to do is screw up one spring and you've lost the whole creek," he said. Fisher, of TU, shares such concerns. He said a drilling-related spill in Wyoming wiped out one cutthroat trout population. "Poor land management flows downhill," he said. Susan Alvillar, of Williams Production, said the company already has numerous environmental protection programs in place for its drilling, including for protecting against spills. "We've got a myriad of regulations that we follow every day," she said. She said Williams has 14 wells on top of the Roan now, and three rigs that are currently drilling. "We've operated up there since the '80s, and certainly it's on our radar screen that everything that we do needs to be in accordance with all those regulations and make sure that we don't impact any of our precious resources up there," she said. Alvillar said many who work for Williams are avid hunters and anglers who understand the importance of protecting the environment. She also noted that the Roan plan is "very prescriptive" in aiming to reduce the impacts of drilling.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

5:54:53 AM    

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2007 John Orr.
Last update: 8/1/07; 8:14:29 AM.
July 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 31        
Jun   Aug

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