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

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

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Here's an update on Green Mountain Reservoir operations from email from the Bureau of Reclamation (Kara Lamb): "Just in time for the weekend, a call for water out of Green Mountain has come on. As a result, we bumped up releases from the reservoir to the Lower Blue today. This afternoon, after lunch, we raised releases from 600 cfs to 700 cfs. Later this evening, around 8 p.m., we will bump releases up another 70 cfs. By Saturday morning, August 25, there should be 770 cfs in the Lower Blue."

Carter Lake and Horestooth Reservoir:

As we move into the last week of August, I wanted to give you all a head's up on the water levels at both Horsetooth and Carter Lake Reservoirs. Those of you who frequent Carter are aware that we are seeing a sharper draw down at Carter this year in order to meet the water restriction required for the reservoir later this fall. In October, the majority of the tunnel work through Carter Dam #1 will be underway. Because the dam will be seeing significant work, it is necessary to keep the water level behind the dam low. To get to that restricted level by October, we are seeing the sharper decline in water levels now. As a result, the North Pines ramp at Carter will most likely become unusable by the end of next week--right at the end of August. The North Ramp should stay in the water through Labor Day. We did have the pump to Carter running all of last week, helping keep the North Pines ramp in the water a little longer. But, the pump went off on Friday and will not come back on this month. Now that we are not pumping water into Carter, more water is flowing into Horsetooth. Horsetooth water levels are on-track and slightly above where they sat this time last year. We anticipate hitting a water level elevation of 5385 in October. Today's elevation at the reservoir is 5391 and we are actually sending more water in, right now, than is going out. About 400 cfs is coming in; about 200 cfs is going out. All elevations and projections are subject to change, of course; but the good news is, as we near Labor Day, both reservoirs' water levels are fairly close to the original projections we issued back in May.

Category: Colorado Water

12:14:52 PM    

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Here's a in-depth look at farming corn and the ethanol boom in the Republican River basin, from The Rocky Mountain News. From the article:

Today's corn boom is far from bust, even as a national debate plays out over the long-term effectiveness of ethanol as a motor fuel. Even so, dark clouds of uncertainty are gathering, pushing shadows over Yuma County's summer of prosperity. At issue is the heavily litigated Republican River and its connection to the High Plains Aquifer, which underlies all of Yuma County, the eastern border of Colorado and large swaths of Kansas and Nebraska, among other places. Yuma irrigation wells are sunk into the aquifer, an underground bowl that has collected fresh water over millions of years. The rate of the aquifer's depletion is one issue, but the most immediate is legal wrangling over the river that may result in the shutting of hundreds of wells. "The threat is very serious, and I think most farmers understand that," said Ken Knox, Colorado's chief deputy state engineer. "I literally pray that we do manage the situation and not have to shut down thousands of wells. The effect would be devastating to Colorado."

Deputy state engineer Knox probably didn't expect a warm welcome in Yuma on a visit last month, and he didn't receive one. There were cold stares and at times harsh words as Knox told those assembled at the Church of Nazarene about state plans to shut off the irrigation wells within a certain distance of the river, possibly those within three or four miles. But he also offered a carrot: Farmers could voluntarily sign up for a government initiative called the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, or CREP. They could earn about $2,000 per acre if they retired irrigated acres and turn those into dryland for 15 years. Sitting in the audience, Duard Fix did some quick math. Two of his 125-acre circles could fall within the well shut-off zone. Each yields a minimum of 200 bushels per acre. With corn at $4 a bushel, each acre would mean $12,000 over 15 years, or six-fold the CREP offer. Fix decided he wouldn't sign up.

Here's the lowdown on where Colorado stands with respect to the Republican River Compact, from The Rocky Mountain News.

Great job Rocky.

Here's the state of Colorado's online site for the compact. More Coyote Gulch coverage here

Category: Colorado Water

11:49:00 AM    

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Here's a look at Theo Colburn and her work on endocrine disruptors and the effects of oil and gas operations on ground water, from The Glenwood Springs Post Independent. From the article:

The 80-year-old Paonia resident finds her focus increasingly turning to Garfield County's energy industry. That industry first caused her to take a mid-life detour toward her current career, and these days it concerns her because of the potential impacts of natural gas development on local water and air...

Colborn voiced concerns with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management about the potential health dangers of substances injected underground to fracture wells and boost gas flow. That led to her being contacted by Laura Amos, who lived in the Silt area at the time and was diagnosed with a rare adrenal tumor she believed was caused by a solvent in natural gas that had gotten into her drinking water. Outright links between substances and people's specific health problems can be hard to prove. But Colborn began hearing from others with concerns about health issues they feared were related to drilling. So she and an assistant began creating a spreadsheet of chemicals used in drilling and the patterns of their potential ill effects, which can include cancer, respiratory problems, and skin and sensory organ irritation. "That began the trouble that we're in today," joked Colborn, who heads The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, a Paonia nonprofit.

Colborn has faced some criticism from the energy industry for her work, but for her, criticism is nothing new. In the past, she has been accused of using junk science in her "Our Stolen Future" book, and been assailed by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals for advocating chemical testing on animals. Gunnison Energy representative Kathy Welt, who recently attended a public presentation by Colborn, said Colborn is an expert in areas such as toxicology, but doesn't understand drilling. "I was just pretty upset with the whole tone of her presentation, that being to demonize the industry," she said. Welt said drilling fluids are used in deeper geological formations and don't mix with domestic well water. She said some people are extra-sensitive to changes in environment, such as gas development. But many chemicals similar to those used in drilling are contained in soaps, cleaning compounds, petroleum-based substances and other products found in homes, where people are more exposed to them, Welt said. "She's painting us like we're using some odd, mystery chemicals that nobody else uses," Welt said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

11:38:42 AM    

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Here's a recap of Friday's session of the Colorado Water Congress west slope legislators announced their intent to help on water issues around the state, according to The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. More legislation. From the article:

Next year will be a big water year in the Colorado Legislature if water-passionate lawmakers get their way. Addressing the Colorado Water Congress on Friday, lawmakers said legislation may be in the offing that addresses water quality, wastewater treatment, water storage projects, a Western Slope water availability study, produced water from oil and gas development and a possible requirement for homebuyers to transfer ownership of their water wells.

State Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, said the Colorado Municipal League urged lawmakers this summer to ensure funding for wastewater treatment and other water-quality projects. Some communities, she said, can't afford to repay loans they've received for treatment projects. "We haven't gotten a handle on that," she said. "Federal involvement continues to decrease, but compliance issues continue to increase." Curry said the $500,000 allocated to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for a water availability study in the Colorado River Basin under Senate Bill 122, passed earlier this year, wasn't enough. She said earlier this summer the money may need to be doubled for the study to be done right...

Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, said he plans to introduce legislation that may address produced water pumped from the ground during coalbed methane drilling...He said it's a complicated issue, and lawmakers may soon start shaping legislation with cooperation from Colorado Department of Natural Resources staffers...

With fears of what drought and the spread of bark beetles will mean for catastrophic wildfire and regional water supplies, Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, said the bottom line for ensuring there is enough water for a growing population in Colorado is to make sure more reservoirs are built for water storage. "We can't legislate more storage," he said. "We can help. We can clear some hurdles. We need to continue to look and never give up looking for storage to solve our problems." Taylor blasted an effort by environmentalists to protect some of the state's streams under the Wild and Scenic River Act because it would throw a "curve ball" into the state's ability to build more reservoirs...

Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, who represents eastern El Paso County, said she is likely to propose legislation that will require home buyers to acquire ownership of their water wells. "The Division of Water Resources doesn't have the best records when it comes to transfer of well ownership," she said. "We'll try to present a bill that will have teeth in it that will require buyers to transfer ownership (of wells and register the transfer with the division)."

Category: Colorado Water

11:23:00 AM    

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