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

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

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From the Center for Biological Diversity, "The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Department of the Interior for political interference with 55 endangered species in 28 states. The notice initiates the largest substantive legal action in the 34-year history of the Endangered Species Act. At stake in the suit is the illegal removal of one animal from the endangered species list, the refusal to place three animals on the list, proposals to remove or downgrade protection for seven animals, and the stripping of protection from 8.7 million acres of critical habitat for a long list of species from Washington State to Minnesota and Texas."

Thanks to Science Blogs for the link.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

8:53:29 AM    

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The Aurora long-term storage contract with Reclamation is winding it's way through the halls of Aurora government. Here's an update on the contract from The Denver Post. From the article:

Aurora has agreed in principle with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on a 40-year contract to store and purchase up to 10,000 acre-feet of water - about 5 percent of the city's water usage - from the Pueblo Reservoir each year. Final wording is being hashed out on the agreement, which has been on a year-to-year basis...

John Singletary, chairman of the board of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, said the organization may sue the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns Pueblo Reservoir, if the agreement is signed. He feels handcuffed by the 40-year agreement and worries that water taken from the Arkansas corridor from Pueblo to Lamar could hurt the valley now and in the future. Farmers have already abandoned land, he said, because of the lack of water. Since 1950, Singletary said, the river valley has lost 60,000 acres of farmland because of the dwindling water supply...

The agreement between the city and the government calls for Aurora to purchase the water for $43 per acre-foot when the city needs it if it is available, said Mark Pifher, deputy director of water resources for Aurora Water. Farmers in the area have senior water rights and could take the water in drought conditions. The cost will increase annually by 1.79 percent.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

8:31:15 AM    

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Here's a look at the proposed new rules for regulating oil and gas operations in Garfield County from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

A proposed new zoning code would address oil and natural-gas development in Garfield County, but a local citizen's group doesn't believe it goes far enough to protect county residents. The county planning and zoning commission, after four years of meetings, recently put the finishing touches on a draft zoning code to replace the current code, which dates back to 1978. The commission included most of the suggestions from an energy industry group called the Garfield County Regulatory Working Group. The draft code identifies what types of activities -- industrial, commercial or residential development -- have to be reviewed only by planning staff, by the planning commission and by the planning commission and county commissioners. It also designates which areas of the county are suitable for each use, planning commission chairman Phil Vaughn said...

The Grand Valley Citizens Alliance said it wants the county to begin a stakeholder's process to develop a separate oil and gas regulation article to "better consider interests of county residents." The industry-proposed regulations ignore local residents' issues, the citizens alliance said, and primarily would speed up gas production...

Brenda Linster, a land and regulatory advisor for EnCana Oil and Gas, helped the industry group draft its recommendations. The group requested a separate article in the code for oil and gas as well, but she said they could accept the current draft code. It scatters oil and gas throughout its 400-plus pages, along with other industrial uses. "Our main concern was to have specific definitions, clear zoning boundaries and application standards and reviews spelled out," Linster said. "They are in the draft as it stands now; they're just not all in one place." It also establishes best management practices and standards to protect the safety, public health, welfare and environment of the county, Linster said...

The citizens alliance wants a code that requires greater separation between wells, open waste pits and homes than the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's 150 feet. The county also could establish a buffer between oil and gas operations and water bodies and set tougher standards on emergency preparedness and response, noise control and visual impacts, the group said. The alliance urged the county to follow Gunnison County's lead and create a water quality protection scheme that requires baseline water quality data and follow-up monitoring as long as the industry operates in the county.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

8:15:37 AM    

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Here's a look back at efforts to turn Fountain Creek into a "Crown Jewel" from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Fountain Creek Vision Task Force kicked off its work in September 2006 at the Pueblo Convention Center with a packed house. With the passion of a constitutional convention, a steering committee was formed and a broad course plotted. The entire group has met twice since then, and a crucial meeting is planned from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 27 at Lake Pueblo State Park [ed. emphasis ours]. The task force broke down the issues on Fountain Creek into manageable pieces on water quantity, water quality and land use, and chose a 28-member consensus committee. During numerous meetings, the groups have debated issues, learned the scope of projects and pondered priorities. There have been occasional tours to look at sites along the Fountain...

"When it comes to land use, how far do you want that to reach?" [El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark] asked. She suggested some sort of pass-through authority would best weather the political climate in El Paso County, allowing existing agencies to review development rather than adding a new layer of bureaucracy. Some want it to reach further than it does now, however. "Until you remove jurisdictional lines you can't deal effectively. It (the authority) has got to blur lines or you're not going to get anywhere. That's the key element," Merle Grimes, a consultant on the master plan, said at a funding subcommittee meeting last week. Grimes favors a powerful urban drainage and flood authority to provide infrastructure, as well as a foundation to fund recreational elements of the plan. That line of thinking follows an Army Corps of Engineers recommendation last month to create an authority to ensure funding. Pueblo County Commissioner Jeff Chostner, at the same meeting, agreed. "Give it more authority, not less. Take it out of city-county purview. If it's a pass-through, I don't think we will ever get the politics out," Chostner said. Chostner supports a more powerful authority for Fountain Creek, as do some agencies within El Paso County, where friction between competing needs prevents unified action...

There are other options between Clark's idea of a pass-through authority and Chostner's suggestion for a more powerful body. Ideas like a conservation district or some other form of special district are being tossed around. Clark and Chostner agree on one thing at least: there's no answer yet. At a future meeting, the committee will look at how communities along Cherry Creek east of Denver organized 25 years ago to improve that corridor.

Read the whole article, the Chieftain has a nice timeline of events since the task force was formed. More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water

8:06:03 AM    

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