Colorado Water
The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land. -- Luna Leopold

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.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A picture named billrichardson.jpg

Coyote Gulch attended the Bill Richardson breakout session yesterday at Yearly Kos. We were fortunate enough to be able to ask the Governor a water question. Here's what he would do:

Richardson plans to appoint a cabinet level official to work on water policy across the nation. That official will then convene a "Water Summit" to study the issue and produce a water plan for the country.

He said that the Bureau of Reclamation is too far down in the Executive Branch hierarchy to be effective. According to the governor, the approach must be more comprehensive than just conservation because conservation is not enough. Of course BuRec is not the only agency involved in water management and quality. Not being able to ask a followup we couldn't find out if he was going to form a new water agency or stay with the current federal stovepipes.

We're pretty sure that the Governor wasn't just pandering and speaking in generalities to help his candidacy. Being the governor of New Mexico he has to have a deep understanding of water issues, we hope. We found just a few blurbs on his website, one about restoring the Clean Water Act and one about reducing toxic pollution. Another talks about smart growth. Any growth plan should be based on the sustainability of clean water supplies.

We're also cognizant that water is not a big issue for most of the U.S. It will be however when the rest of the country learns about the aging infrastructure, polluted groundwater and the costs associated with it. The Southeast and upper Midwest are also learning about drought the last few years.

Governor Richardson was asked about his commitment to ending worldwide poverty later in the program. We would remind him that tackling sustainable clean drinking water supplies for the world is basic to any economic growth. Thousands die each day from the lack of clean water.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

9:25:38 AM    

A picture named paradox.jpg

Coyote Gulch remembers earthquakes in the Denver area caused by pumping wastewater underground at the old Rocky Mountain Arsenal. There's a chance that the Colorado River Salinity Control Progam's Paradox Valley Unit is causing earthquakes over on the Colorado-Utah border, according to The Rocky Mountain News. From the article:

No damages or injuries were reported after a minor earthquake rattled the small town of Paradox, near the Colorado-Utah border. The U.S. Geological Survey said seismographs measured a magnitude 2.8 earthquake at 7:46 a.m. Wednesday...A Bureau of Reclamation official said work he and some employees were doing in the area may have triggered the temblor.

Category: Colorado Water

8:40:45 AM    

A picture named riverboarding.jpg

Here's a look at the riverboarding from The Mile High News. From the article:

Among tubers and weekend kayakers who practice their moves in Clear Creek, wetsuit-clad, helmeted adventure-goers can be seen whizzing headfirst through the water on colorful, sled-like contraptions. They're riverboarders, seeking a thrill and not afraid to get a little (or a lot) wet. Riverboarding, also known as sledging or hydrospeed, looks somewhat like riverine boogie boarding or body boarding. It involves lying stomach-down on plastic boards with handles and navigating river rapids by using different kicking methods. It may sound dangerous and even crazy, but once newcomers get in the water, they see it's really a rewarding and relatively easy pastime, said Shane Bolling, president and CEO of RipBoard, a riverboarding company that teaches lessons and sells gear.

Here's another article from The Colorado Springs Gazette. They write:

...riverboards are similar in some ways to kayaks. They're made out of the same tough plastic, and the sides come up around the boarder to offer some protection from impacts and additional flotation (some riverboarders do use conventional foam body boards, or a larger version intended for river running). Before sending them down the river, [Shane Bolling] puts his students in sleeveless wet suits, life vests and short swim fins, plus helmets, shin guards and knee pads. The body armor suggests riverboarding will be a rough ride and it certainly can be. On the other hand, the boards seem to get caught in holes (where a rapid crashes back on itself and sends paddlers through the spin cycle) less often than kayaks.

Category: Colorado Water

8:03:34 AM    

A picture named southplattewatershed.jpg

Farmers in northeastern Colorado are welcoming the monsoon this year (as usual), according to The Sterling Journal Advocate. From the article:

Summer's monsoon rains have crept across the state for a week or two and are now reaching into northeast Colorado. While no one here wants five inches of rain dumped on them all at once, as happened in Fort Collins Thursday night, it is encouraging to receive a little moisture...

In Phillips County near Holyoke, and on into western Nebraska, so much rain fell the week of July 4 that Frenchman Creek flooded and overran many roads. Some of them were closed for several days. At the same time, Sterling didn't report any precipitation at all that week. During the entire month of July, some locations near Sterling received a total of one-and-one-half inches of precipitation. A few miles away, northeast of Sterling, a total of three inches fell in the same time period. The 30-year average precipitation for Sterling in July, according to the High Plains Regional Climate Center, is 2.51 inches. So depending on location, some places in and near Sterling had more than an average amount of rainfall, while others had up to an inch less than average. The same held true for Logan County. One location 10 or 12 miles north of Sterling received less than one inch of rain for the entire month. Farther out in the northwest corner of the county, almost no rain fell for two months and some of the pastures dried up. Even weeds, notorious for being able to survive with scarcely any water, turned brown and died. Not only did the total precipitation vary a great deal, so did the timing of the rain that fell. Following a drier-than-normal June across the area, the July rains came early in some places and late in others...

So July presented much of northeast Colorado with great weather for wheat harvest in the early part of the month. But the hot, dry weather during much of that time took a toll on other dryland crops. Pastures that did not get the rainfall they needed in June and the first part of July were damaged, and it is too late in the growing season for many of them to recover. This means that many cattle will have to come off pastures earlier than the usual time, which is about the first of October. This in turn means that some farmers and ranchers will have to begin feeding expensive hay earlier than usual.

Category: Colorado Water

7:51:13 AM    

A picture named lightning.jpg

Local government has many challenges in convincing taxpayers and ratepayers of the need to fund stormwater control efforts. Here's a look at the payoff from Fort Collins work in light of the huge monsoon rainfall they experienced this week, from The Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

In preparation for the Colorado monsoon season, city utilities staff spent a full week in July cleaning stormwater inlets, pipes and detention ponds. It's a move that may have spared the city from even worse flooding Thursday night, city official said Friday. "We committed a fair amount of our resources on the stormwater side to clean all of our catch basins throughout town and to prepare for the monsoon season," said Jim Hibbard, water field operations manager for the city. "We were taking proactive steps to prepare the system for the monsoon season and these types of events where a lot of water comes at one time." The city's stormwater system includes many detention ponds and tubes that carry rainfall from city streets to the Poudre River. If not maintained properly, debris can block inlets and other drainages causing a back-up in water flow and resulting in increased flooding.

Another concern from the flooding is stormwater runoff, which can pick up debris, fertilizers, motor oil and other pollutants that goes through a series of filtration ponds but not the city's two wastewater reclamation plants before flowing into the Poudre River. "We do have a system of water quality ponds that clean up the stormwater runoff," said Patty Bigner, a spokeswoman for Fort Collins Utilities. "The water quality ponds are a series of three retention areas where the first pond is used to catch big debris, and then there are two other ponds the water goes into afterward where it is (filtered) more."

Category: Colorado Water

7:40:33 AM    

A picture named uppersouthplattebasin.jpg

Here's a profile of Colorado Division of Wildlife biologist Jeff Spohn who works the upper South Platte River drainage from The Denver Post. From the article:

Mr. Spohn's wild ride at last has slowed to a modest gallop, an interlude in what arguably has been the most tumultuous four years any Colorado aquatic biologist ever experienced. Drought. Fires. Dried-up reservoirs. Floods. Then, finally, a touch of pestilence, the crowning episode in a tour of affliction that might have caused a lesser man to consider changing careers even as he was just beginning. When Jeff Spohn assumed the job as Colorado Division of Wildlife biologist for the upper South Platte River drainage in April 2003, he already had two large strikes against him - even more if you consider that he was 25 years old in his first tour of duty and the territory he inherited had just been expanded by half. "From Day One, I knew it would be a rebuilding job," Spohn said of a dilemma that promptly doubled and deepened. "There have been challenges, but I've learned a lot. Actually, it's been a great experience."

Category: Colorado Water

7:33:19 AM    

A picture named arkansasfountainconverge.jpg

Here's an update on the Corps of Engineers planning for Fountain Creek, from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The ongoing concern regarding Fountain Creek underscores the challenge that water management along the creek poses for flood damage reduction, public safety and the Fountain's ecosystem. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers remains engaged in Southern Colorado, where it is working to complete the Fountain Creek watershed study by September 2008. The watershed study will provide a detailed analysis of current conditions on the creek and evaluate the types of projects that could reduce the impacts of flooding and benefit the environment. The plan formulation will be completed by October 2007 and preliminary project evaluations completed by January 2008. A final report will be submitted in September 2008, provided that federal funding of this study is continued in fiscal year 2008. It is important to note that the Fountain Creek watershed study will not, in and of itself, result in the construction of new projects. However, it will identify potential projects that address the conditions along the Fountain from environmental and flood damage reduction perspectives. It will also assess what federal, state or local agencies have the appropriate legal authorities required to implement the projects. Where the Corps of Engineers is the right agency, we stand ready to advance them once they are federally authorized and funded...

We recognize the importance of recreation and other ancillary benefits that may be derived from flood damage reduction and ecosystem projects, and believe that the Fountain Creek watershed study will complement Colorado Springs' and Pueblo's ongoing collaborative efforts as part of the Fountain Creek Crown Jewel Vision Task Force.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water

7:23:31 AM    

A picture named southerndeliverysystem.jpg

Officials in Southern Colorado are in a pickle regarding unbridled growth. Census estimates are showing a slowdown in growth in Colorado Springs and other areas. Some are wondering if they should slow down various projects [i.e. Southern Delivery System] to fit the new data. Here's an article on the subject from The Pueblo Chieftain. They write:

Census estimates now point to a slowdown in the city's [Colorado Springs] population growth. After growing by 80,000 people (to 361,000) in the 1990s, the city grew by as few as 11,000 (to 372,000) over the last six years, according to the Census Bureau's estimates for 2006. Colorado state demographers also point to a slowdown, although not as severe. The state puts the city of Colorado Springs' 2005 population at 385,000, a gain of 24,000 at the decade's halfway point. The state's 2006 estimates are due out later this year. As for the rest of El Paso County, there are pockets of rapid growth - led by suburbs Fountain and Falcon - but the countywide gains are also less than expected, according to Census Bureau estimates. The slowdown goes back to 2001, a year that brought a statewide recession, the start of a severe regional drought and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. And, at the moment, it's getting worse...

Reflecting the uncertainty, owners of the Banning-Lewis Ranch development - the 40-square-mile area where the city of Colorado Springs hopes to grow - announced a delay in their plans. Under their revised timeline, the developers will wait another two to three years to start building a required sewage plant, they informed city leaders in March...

Still today, the city is pushing hard to keep the original 2012 target date for adding a second water pipeline from Lake Pueblo to Colorado Springs, the so-called Southern Delivery System. The target date was set before the current slowdown. Objectors first want the city and El Paso County to fund new flood and water quality controls to handle stormwater and return flows on Fountain Creek into Pueblo. They also want a guarantee that none of the Lake Pueblo water will be sold or leased to out-of-basin interests. And they note that several studies are just now under way on other options to a pipeline, including one on the prospects of a multipurpose dam on Fountain Creek. Objectors already can make the case that Colorado Springs has previously overstated the urgency of the water project. The 2001 drought showed that. Stepped-up water conservation cut residential water usage rates. As of last year, per capita water usage was holding at 25 percent below pre-drought levels, Colorado Springs Utilities reports. Slower growth gives objectors yet another reason to argue for more time. Even using the state's higher estimates, the projected population gains used to justify the SDS pipeline now may not come until 2015 or later.

Category: Colorado Water

7:17:09 AM    

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2007 John Orr.
Last update: 9/1/07; 12:39:57 PM.
August 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  
Jul   Sep