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

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Friday, August 24, 2007

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From The Durango Herald, "He was a small-town boy who rose to be the assistant regional director of the Bureau of Reclamation, helping to develop many of the water resources of the Southwest. John D. Brown, 77, died of liver cancer at his Electra Lake cabin on Thursday. He spent 35 years with the Bureau of Reclamation, working on, among others, the Animas-La Plata Project, the Central Arizona Project and the Hoover Dam Bypass route. He retired as assistant regional director in 1990. In the process, he and his family lived in Durango, Montrose, Denver, Boulder City, Nev., Arlington, Va., and Sacramento, Calif."

Category: Colorado Water

7:21:01 AM    

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Here's a look at hormone pollution from Resident Publications. From the article:

Male fish taking on female characteristics. A community plagued by high breast cancer rates. Waterways polluted by manure from animal feedlots. These phenomena may seem unrelated, but some researchers suspect they share a common link: hormone pollution. Natural hormones and synthetic compounds that mimic them are increasingly being detected throughout the environment, especially in waterways. Of particular concern are estrogenic compounds -- natural and manmade forms of the group of hormones that includes estrogen -- which can have dramatic effects on aquatic animals. Although links to human health problems are much more tenuous, concerns are growing.

"We should probably be concerned about what's in our drinking water as well as what we're dumping into rivers and lakes," says University of Colorado endocrinologist Dave Norris. Late last year, his team made headlines when they showed that even low concentrations of estrogenic compounds released into rivers through treated water from sewage plants are giving male fish female characteristics in rivers near Boulder, Colo. The team studied white sucker, a fish species that lives both upstream and downstream of the sewage discharge sites. Certain fish species naturally undergo a process called intersex, where they switch from male to female, but it's rare in white suckers -- under normal conditions. But in Boulder Creek and the South Platte River, researchers found more feminized fish downstream of sewage effluent sites than upstream. According to Norris, sewage treatment systems "weren't designed to remove this stuff" from wastewater. His team found that at least two estrogen compounds -- a natural estrogen and a type of synthetic estrogen found in birth control pills -- contributed to the feminization. Each compound is potent enough to cause changes in fish on its own, but together they have an even greater impact. "Many of these compounds work through the same [biological] mechanism, so they can add up," Norris explains...

Basic wastewater treatment removes about 90 percent of estrogenic compounds, on average, while secondary treatments can increase this to more than 99 percent, according to Samir Khanal, an engineering professor at Iowa State University, who studies estrogenic compounds as they move through the wastewater treatment system. He says the greatest risk of groundwater contamination may not be from sewage effluent but from biosolids[^]the sewage sludge that is removed during sewage treatment and applied to land as fertilizer. "[Estrogenic compounds] physically attach to the biomass," Khanal explains, which is problematic because biosolid treatment removes hormones less efficiently. In the United States, about 50 percent of biosolids removed during sewage treatment end up being applied to the land as fertilizer, according to Khanal. Other studies have raised additional concerns about hormones in manure-based fertilizers and feedlot run-off. Regardless of the source of the contaminated biomass, when the land sits above shallow drinking water sources, estrogenic compounds can enter into groundwater, adds Khanal...

In rural areas with less comprehensive sewage treatment, the risk of groundwater contamination may also increase. For example, researchers from Silent Spring, a Massachusetts-based research and advocacy organization focused on women's environmental health risks, are studying a Cape Cod community where most residents rely on septic systems in which solids settle in septic tanks and liquids filter through the soil. Women in this community have an elevated breast cancer risk - as much as 20 percent higher than the average risk for women elsewhere in Massachusetts. When preliminary studies ruled out "the usual suspects," such as an older population, higher mammography levels, or family history, researchers started looking at possible contamination in the shallow aquifer that provides drinking water for the area. The group did detect estrogens and other wastewater chemicals in groundwater samples, but they cannot directly link them to the community's breast cancer problem. "We are very limited in what we know about people's lifetime exposure [to estrogenic compounds]," explains Silent Spring Institute executive director Julia Brody.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

7:11:11 AM    

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From Lawn and Landscape Maintenance Magazine, "Brent Mecham, a Colorado water conservation specialist and longtime irrigation instructor, has been named Irrigation Association industry development director. Mecham will lead the Irrigation Association Education Foundation and guide the effort to streamline curriculum development...Mecham comes to the IA from the Colorado Water Conservancy district where he is the landscape water management and conservation specialist. He will relocate to IA headquarters in Virginia and begin work Oct. 1."

Category: Colorado Water

6:58:58 AM    

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Here's a short update about the Tropical Composition, Cloud and Climate Coupling mission, from Medill Reports. From the article:

NASA recently completed a $12 million climate study intended to help researchers better understand the chemical processes behind global warming and ozone depletion. The Tropical Composition, Cloud and Climate Coupling field campaign, based in San Jose, Costa Rica, used seven satellites and three high-flying airplanes to examine the upper layers of Earth's atmosphere. "We're trying to make sure we understand how clouds and water vapor in this region of the atmosphere work," said Brian Toon, a scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who is associated with the study. Studying cloud formation and its ability to trap heat in this region may be a critical link to understanding global warming.

Toon explained that the tropics are home to very fast-moving columns of air that help regulate the Earth's climate. When the fast-moving air hits the cold ceiling of the upper atmosphere, it flattens out and becomes what scientists call an anvil cloud, Toon said. Scientists believe the anvils serve a dual, seemingly contradictory purpose. They help cool the Earth by reflecting the sun's heat, but they also trap radiation and greenhouse gases, keeping the Earth's temperature above freezing over many parts of the globe.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:51:59 AM    

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From, "Water For People, a leading nonprofit development organization based in Denver, Colo, has named Colleen Stiles its Chief Executive Officer. Founded in 1991, the organization is focused on responding to the 1.1 billion people worldwide who lack access to safe drinking water and the 2.6 billion who lack adequate sanitation. Water For People supports the development of sustainable safe drinking water resources and improved sanitation facilities in rural communities throughout the developing world."

Category: Colorado Water

6:37:32 AM    

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A memorial service for W.D. Farr was held yesterday in Greeley with many in the water community in Colorado in attendance, according to The Greeley Tribune (free registration required). From the article:

Farr, 97, died Aug. 13 and an estimated 600 to 700 people attended a celebration of his life memorial at the Union Colony Civic Center in Greeley. It was a fitting location, considering that Farr helped get the UCCC built -- just one of his legacies...

A 15-minute photographic slide show of Farr's career stirred many memories of Farr for friends and family. The photos showed Farr on fishing and hunting trips, meeting with state, national and international dignitaries, working on water projects, as a businessman, a cattle feeder and as a father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

More coverage from They write, "Farr was a cattleman and a banker, but perhaps his greatest accomplishment was the role he played in bringing water to the Front Range, without which Greeley and northern Colorado would not have been able to thrive."

Category: Colorado Water

6:30:23 AM    

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According to John Hazelhurst, writing in The Colorado Springs Business Journal, Bob Rawlings, publisher of The Pueblo Chieftain was right all along in his support of a new dam on Fountain Creek as part of Colorado Springs Utilities' Southern Delivery System. From the opinion piece:

...our very own Colorado Springs Utilities, whose leaders found out last Friday that their arch-enemy, Pueblo Chieftain Publisher Bob Rawlings, has outflanked, outsmarted, out-game planned and out-executed them. Like it or not, Rawlings has won the fight over the Southern Delivery System. For Colorado Springs to develop its water rights on the Arkansas River, it will have to do so according to Rawlings' vision, not CSU's...

For years, Rawlings has insisted that any deal [for SDS] has to include two things: a flood control dam on Fountain Creek and wastewater recycling/re-use by Colorado Springs. For years, CSU has insisted that such ideas are expensive, unnecessary and impractical. CSU might be right -- but it may no longer matter.

When the Business Journal interviewed Gov. Bill Ritter two weeks ago, he made it clear that any new water projects must include new storage, conservation/water sharing measures and recycling/re-use...

And last Friday, Sen. Ken Salazar not only repeated Ritter's formula, but went a step farther by strongly endorsing a flood control dam on the Fountain between Colorado Springs and Pueblo. Asked who might fund such a project, the senator was appropriately vague, saying only that he expected that there would be a federal component, a state component ... and a local component...And later that day, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which just last year had rejected the idea of a dam on the Fountain, announced that, upon further review, it was changing its position from opposition to possible support...

To build SDS, a dam on the Fountain and the complex infrastructure required for extensive wastewater recycling will be expensive and difficult. But at this moment in history, the city can partner with both the state and federal government to get the job done. Local ratepayers will have to shoulder much of the burden, but in 20 years it will seem an incredible bargain. In a single, comprehensive project, Colorado Springs will acquire enough water to support the city's growth and prosperity for generations to come. Virtually alone among western cities, the Springs will have an abundant, diversified, secure and renewable source of water. And instead of fighting over a putrid, foul-smelling, flood-prone watercourse, Pueblo and Colorado Springs will be linked by 40 miles of greenway nurtured by a gentle, meandering stream. The cities would move from angry enmity to active cooperation, to the enduring benefit of both.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:22:21 AM    

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Here's a recap of yesterday's keynote by U.S. Senator Ken Salazar at the Colorado Water Congress' summer convention in Steamboat Springs from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

As water managers from throughout Colorado agreed Thursday that water conservation is the key to dealing with climate change's effects on the state's water supply, Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., said oil shale development could use up whatever water remains in the Colorado River Basin. Salazar, who spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at the Colorado Water Congress' summer convention in Steamboat Springs, said later that he had heard oil shale development in northwest Colorado is likely to consume 100 percent of the available, or unappropriated, water in the entire Colorado River system. But with disagreement over just how much water is left to be appropriated in the basin, he said he doesn't know whether that level of water consumption from a future oil shale industry is acceptable. A draft environmental impact study of the Bureau of Land Management's commercial oil shale program, due later this year, is expected to address water consumption from oil shale development. But the House energy bill, expected to be debated and reconciled with the Senate energy bill next month, would delay the release of the study. Salazar said the delay is prudent because Congress must ensure the study is "defensible and good." During his address to the Colorado Water Congress, Salazar said America's energy independence and its response to global climate change are two of the biggest challenges facing the United States.

More coverage of the conference from The Rocky Mountain News. From the article:

Western water managers are likely to be the "first responders" to climate change as reservoirs become harder to fill and snow-dependent water systems yield less. "Climate change is upon us now, and it will have an impact on all of our systems," said David Behar, a planner with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission...

In Colorado and other Western states, roughly 80 percent of annual drinking water supplies come from high-country snows. Early studies in San Francisco show its high altitude reservoirs will likely be harder to fill as snowpacks shrink and melt earlier. Water managers have been stymied in responding to a warming environment because climate models are built globally and don't provide enough local or even regional data to reliably forecast changes to snowpack. A new coalition of western water utilities is hoping to change that by paying for more detailed, regional water models.

Category: Colorado Water

6:08:20 AM    

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Elk Meadows near Ouray has received an $1.48 million grant from USDA Rural Development, according to The Ouray News. From the article:

A federal agency has stepped in to help Elk Meadows with funding for water improvements. USDA Rural Development Colorado State Director Mike Bennett presented representatives from the Elk Meadows Estates Owners Association a ceremonial check for $1,480,000 for a water and waste disposal loan and grant. The funds will provide new water lines and meters in Elk Meadows, as well as a new water storage tank and as many as two new groundwater wells.

6:01:08 AM    

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