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

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

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Live Science: "North Americans have always taken the heat for killing off millions of American bison during the early 1800s. A new study, however, pins the blame on Europeans. Europe's advanced tanning expertise drove the large, iconic mammal to near extinction in the United States, according to a a review of international trade records, diaries and other historical documents conducted by University of Calgary environmental economist M. Scott Taylor. 'The story of the buffalo slaughter is surprisingly not, at bottom, an American one,' Taylor said."

Coyote Gulch thinks that Buffalo Bill and his supply-side cronies were also part of the problem.

Category: Colorado Water

7:24:36 PM    

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Here's the link to our current article on Colorado Central Magazine and the Coyote Gulch links we used for background.

Category: Colorado Water

6:06:44 PM    

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Here's a look at Grand Junction's shiny new ordinance regulating oil and gas development in their watershed, from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

Grand Junction can issue a cease-and-desist order to an energy company drilling in its municipal watershed if it violates its agreement with the city. It can require the company to get a permit from the city before it starts moving dirt in the watershed. And, the company must submit alternate plans just in case its original development scheme is met with city disapproval. Such are some of the provisions of the watershed protection regulations the Grand Junction City Council approved July 30. The council wrote those regulations to implement the watershed ordinance it passed last year, Council member Teresa Coons said. As proponents of reining in the energy industry in Mesa County suggested last week at three public meetings, Grand Junction's watershed regulations "have teeth." That means the city believes it has the power to enforce its rules. Questions remain, however, about how much power Mesa County would have if it placed regulations on the industry that are stricter than those prescribed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, or COGCC, as part of the county's energy master plan, now in development...

But if the county were to choose to impose more restrictions on energy companies, its ability to do so -- possibly gained after a recent state court ruling involving Gunnison County -- depends on whether the regulations conflict with those of the state, Mesa County Attorney Lyle Dechant said. Such a conflict would become apparent in court if the industry challenges those regulations, he said. That means the legality of each of those regulations would have to be determined on a case-by-case basis, Oil and Gas Commission Director Brian Macke said. "A very clear operational conflict would be if a local government would not allow the drilling of a well the COGCC would otherwise allow to be drilled," he said.

Category: Colorado Water

7:15:34 AM    

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A recent flashflood has changed the course of the Fryingpan River, according to The Aspen Daily News (free registration required). From the Article:

Rainwater, mud, rocks and trees gushed down Seven Castles Creek on Monday morning, sending thick debris across Frying Pan Road and into the river of the same name four miles above Basalt. A resulting fan of debris altered the course of the Fryingpan River, pushing water out of its normal channel and filling it with mud and rock. "I think it has rearranged about a quarter mile of the river," said Maureen Bratsher, who works at Frying Pan Anglers in Basalt and looked at the river early Monday morning. "It may have permanently changed its course."[...]

Larson said that a friend who lives next to the creek heard what sounded like a freight train crashing at about 4:45 a.m. The creek has experienced flash floods before. But several nearby residents said it has been about 10 years since the last big one...

Now that the river is swinging wide around the debris fan, it's coming back against the right bank of the river at a more direct angle. That could undermine previous work done at that location to shore up the riverbank -- and the shoulder of Frying Pan Road...

The Fryingpan flows into the Roaring Fork in Basalt and the muddy water from the Pan is expected to cloud the Fork for several days. With Sunday night's heavy rains, flows on the Roaring Fork River near Glenwood Springs jumped overnight, rising from about 1,000 cubic feet per second Sunday afternoon to 1,460 cfs Monday afternoon.

Category: Colorado Water

7:02:47 AM    

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According to The Colorado Springs Gazette the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments is looking into permitting two wastewater treatment plants in the Jimmy Camp Creek watershed instead of the original one. From the article:

Wednesday, the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments will hold a public meeting on a proposed amendment that would allow both plants to be built in the Jimmy Camp Creek watershed. One plant, which would process 30 million gallons a day, is proposed by Colorado Springs Utilities to serve Banning Lewis Ranch, a planned 23,000-acre housing development on the city's east and northeast sides. The plant will be needed by about 2012 and would be located in the vicinity of Clear Springs Ranch about 20 miles south of Colorado Springs. The plant's effluent would be discharged into Fountain Creek.

The other plant, which would process 6 million gallons a day, is planned by the Lower Fountain Metropolitan Sewage Disposal District. Needed by 2010, it would serve development in the lower part of the Jimmy Camp watershed. The district has two members -- Colorado Centre Metropolitan District and Fountain Sanitation District. It would be built on Birdsall Road east of Old Pueblo Road, a site the district has owned for 18 years located about 1[pi] miles from the site of Springs Utilities' proposed plant. The regional planning agency's board of directors approved both site applications in June, but approval of the Lower Fountain plant is contingent upon changing the Water Quality Management Plan, which calls for one plant...

The Council of Governments board will decide Sept. 12 whether to amend the water quality plan. If the amendment fails, the Lower Fountain must find another way to meet demand. If the board votes to amend the plan, the new version would go to the state's Water Quality Control Commission. If the commission approves, it must be signed by the governor and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Category: Colorado Water

6:55:52 AM    

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The Pueblo Chieftain keeps tabs on Aurora's use of Arkansas River Basin water. Here's a look at this summer's use. From the article:

With its reservoirs 95 percent full, a wet year and decreased demand, Aurora has used far less water from the Arkansas Valley this year - a trend that water managers say could carry over into 2008. The city of 300,000 east of Denver has taken about 2,915 acre-feet from the Arkansas Valley, about 15 percent of its annual average, and probably won't use much more before the end of the year, said Tom Simpson, the city's Arkansas Valley engineering supervisor...

Average yield from rights Aurora purchased in the Arkansas Valley are more than 20,000 acre-feet, a number the city has not been able to reach in recent dry years...

Aurora owns rights on the Colorado Canal in Crowley County, Rocky Ford Ditch in Otero County and from several small ditches in Lake County. Combined, the potential yield represents about one-third of the city's inventory of water rights in the Colorado, Arkansas and South Platte basins. Aurora is seeking a 40-year contract with the Bureau of Reclamation to maintain the ability to store and move the water. Reclamation plans to offer a contract to Aurora sometime this month, after reviewing comments on the contract submitted by other water interests and the public earlier this year. The situation is a dramatic departure from recent years. In 2003, Aurora's storage levels dropped to 26 percent. In response, the city instituted mandatory restrictions that still have not been lifted.

...the city did not use any transmountain water from mid-May through the end of July, normally one of the heaviest water usage times. Simpson said pumping for the rest of the year will be to maintain adequate space in reservoirs to capture runoff next year. Aurora finds itself in a rare situation where it does not immediately need the water it has worked to secure in other basins. The city's demand is slightly below average through Aug. 1, at 29,100 acre-feet. Meanwhile, water rights in Aurora's home basin, the South Platte, have yielded 40,000 acre-feet, about 33 percent above average. As a result, its account in the Homestake Reservoir, which operates jointly with Colorado Springs, is filled. Aurora also has filled all of its accounts in Turquoise, Twin Lakes, Meredith and Henry reservoirs in the Arkansas Valley. It also is storing 10,000 acre-feet in Lake Pueblo, the full amount leased from Reclamation in its current one-year excess-capacity contract...

Aurora resumed pumping through the Otero Pumping Station near Buena Vista last week, but only to clear the way for next year's collections on the Homestake Project. Homestake brings water from the Eagle River in the Colorado River basin through Turquoise and Twin Lakes, but does not remove any water from the Arkansas River basin. In April, before its situation was completely understood, Aurora entered a lease with Pueblo West for 3,500 acre-feet of Twin Lakes water for up to $500,000. Twin Lakes water is imported from the Roaring Fork River drainage in the Colorado River basin. At the time of the lease, Pueblo West had filled all of its accounts and had a three-year supply of water on hand. Simpson said it is unlikely Aurora will lease any additional water from the Arkansas River basin next year, as it did from the High Line Canal in 2004-05 to recover reservoir levels.

Category: Colorado Water

6:48:17 AM    

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Here's an update on Colorado River flows through Glenwood Canyon from The Denver Post. From the article:

The effort to keep whitewater rafting companies afloat through the summer season has the potential to come to an abrupt halt after Labor Day weekend, as the rupture of a supply pipe at the Xcel Energy-owned Shoshone hydroelectric plant has altered the delicately balanced tide tables of Colorado water use. Commercial rafting companies are bracing for a short season...

After meeting with representatives from Denver Water, Glenwood Springs-based Colorado River Water Conservation District and other water-management agencies, Han- sen and about a dozen other Western Slope river-rafting companies running commercial trips on the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon expect flows to reach the nearly rock-bottom level of 810 cfs once the summer tourism crush passes by with the Sept. 3 holiday. Although a final agreement is still pending, the river outfitters anticipate a traditional minimum flow of at least 1,250 cfs through the canyon until that date. "In August, this is the only water in the state, basically," Hansen said, adding that many outfitters typically operate tours through the end of September...

Although there is no obligation to augment flows for the estimated $2 million-a-year rafting industry in Glenwood Canyon, water managers are required to maintain adequate flows to support four species of federally protected endangered fish in the so-called 15 Mile Reach outside Palisade. A flow of at least 810 cfs is necessary for the livelihood of the Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, boneytail and humpback chub and will help support the rafting industry as well. After the proposed Labor Day deadline, however, that water won't necessarily flow through Glenwood Canyon. Depending upon where water releases originate, boaters and fishermen could see impacts as far north as Kremmling and the Williams Fork Reservoir. "They could start releasing out of Ruedi Reservoir (into the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers), which would miss us and the rest of the upper Colorado," Hansen said. "That water is extremely important to our livelihood. We're just hoping the plant will be back by next year."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here

Category: Colorado Water

6:38:55 AM    

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Denver Water joined the EPA's WaterSense program on Monday, according to The Denver Post. From the article:

Anyone needing a low-flow toilet or an irrigation system that measures soil moisture can now get a recommendation from Denver Water. The utility has agreed to participate in a federal Environmental Protection Agency program that promotes water-efficient products. The program, WaterSense, aims to provide a national brand, designating water-efficient products that cut water use by at least 20 percent...

So far, the WaterSense brand is only offered for irrigation systems and toilets, but there are plans to begin marketing faucets next year. The program is similar to the agency's Energy Star program, which provides a brand logo for energy-efficient dishwashers, clothes washers, refrigerators, air conditioners and other goods. Denver Water officials said that promoting water-saving products to its 1.1 million customers will help the utility reach its goal of reducing water consumption by 20 percent by 2016. Before the drought, Denver Water customers were using 211 gallons per person per day. If the utility reaches its goal of reducing water use by 20 percent, customers will use about 165 gallons per person per day.

Here's the press release from the EPA.

More coverage from The Rocky Mountain News. They write:

Denver is one of a handful of cities nationwide honored by the Environmental Protection Agency this week for its work to reduce water use and to use recycled water for such things as power plant cooling and irrigating park lands. Denver Water, which serves 1.2 million customers in the metro area, was recognized along with the city for seeking ways to make Colorado's water supplies go farther. "Denver Water is setting a national example," said Ben Grumbles, assistant administrator for water at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Category: Colorado Water

6:30:39 AM    

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Here's a look at the efforts to control tamarisk using Tamarisk Leaf Beetles over in western Colorado, from The Denver Post. From the article:

Hundreds of thousands of tamarisk leaf beetle larvae are shredding the leaves of invasive tamarisk trees - just as biologists hoped. "They're eating machines," said Dan Bean, an entomologist with the Colorado Department of Agriculture in Palisade, who helped release the insects in Utah in 2004 and in Colorado the following year. "A tree can go from green to brown in three, four days," Bean said...

In Utah, where biologists released thousands of insects in 2004, the leaf eaters have exploded, devouring tamarisk and leaving acres of trees defoliated and brown along more than 18 miles of the Colorado River. In Colorado, biologists are waiting to see if the 2005 introductions follow the same path. "So far, the beetles are performing as we expect," said Andrew Norton, an ecologist at Colorado State University. "We're pretty optimistic." Norton and other state and federal biologists released batches of the tamarisk leaf beetles in Dinosaur National Park, in northwestern Colorado, two years ago...

Utah's success and Colorado's initial progress are "great news, but it may be great temporary news," said Tom Stohlgren, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Fort Collins. "If they die out, we run the risk of a reinvasion, since they invaded so well the first time," Stohlgren said of tamarisk.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:23:30 AM    

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