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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Thursday, September 20, 2007

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Wash Park Prophet: "Colorado has a long history of uranium mining and was the source of the uranium used in the first atomic bombs, but that mining in and around Nucla and Naturita for the most part, in Western Slope canyons, was far from major population centers. Most of the mining area near Nucla and Naturita has been reclaimed as a golf course, after a long clean up effort was completed. Surprisingly, golf courses are desirable reclamation uses."

6:48:00 PM    

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Here's an update on the proposed La Plata Archuleta Water District from The Durango Herald. From the article:

The public packed a hearing Tuesday on a plan that would pipe drinkable water to a 400-square-mile area where many residents rely on wells or trucked-in water. The proposal, which voters would have to approve, is to create the La Plata Archuleta Water District. Residents of the district would pay a special tax to fund the construction of water-treatment facilities and pipelines that would supply dependable water to rural southeast La Plata County. The project, at an estimated cost of $85 million, also would cover a corner of southwest Archuleta County. Inclusion in the district would be voluntary; so far, almost 670 residents have asked to be excluded...

The plan's pay-as-you-go approach, which would mostly rely on revenue to cover costs rather than taking on large amounts of debt, has some people worried that pipelines might never reach them...Water for the project could come from various sources, including the basins of the Animas, Piedra and Pine rivers, as well as the Pine River Irrigation District.

Commissioners' role is to decide whether the plan passes statutory muster. Another public hearing to decide the matter will be held Oct. 15 at the SunUte Community Center. Requests for an exclusion from the district must be received by the county by Oct. 5. If commissioners approve the proposal, it still has various steps to go through, including review by a district court judge, who must sign off on it and set a date for an election. Two years ago, proponents withdrew a similar proposal after negotiations with oil and gas companies failed. The new plan adjusts some cost estimates and alters some boundaries but does not make substantive changes from the previous proposal, [Dick Lunceford, spokesman for the proposed district] said.

Public hearing: Another public hearing on the creation of a new La Plata Archuleta Water District will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at the SunUte Community Center. La Plata County has extended the deadline for residents to request an exclusion from the district until Oct. 5. A copy of the district plan is available at

Category: Colorado Water

6:34:00 AM    

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Here's an update on the Fountain Creek lawsuit from The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Colorado Springs and the Sierra Club are arguing in court over a key point for the future of the club's Fountain Creek pollution lawsuit against the city. The city, in a new written argument in U.S. District Court, contends Judge Walker Miller should throw out much of the lawsuit. But Sierra, in a response, disputes the city's contention. The club also wants the judge to strike Colorado Springs' argument on grounds that it is based on improper considerations.

The city contends the judge should limit the lawsuit to six of the 51 instances that the club alleges the city violated the federal Clean Water Act. The instances are occasions in which Colorado Springs in 2004, 2005 and 2006 allegedly discharged raw sewage, nonpotable water and excessive chlorine from its sewage system into the creek. The city argues the environmental group is not entitled to pursue its lawsuit for 45 of those instances because Sierra allegedly did not comply with a requirement of the act. The act requires notice of intent to sue be given at least 60 days before a lawsuit is filed to enforce the act...

Colorado Springs, in its new filing, asks the judge to expedite his ruling on whether he will throw out the 45 instances. An expedited ruling "has the potential to streamline trial preparation and (the) trial," the city said. A 10-day trial is set to begin Jan. 28. Colorado Springs contends the instances are barred because the court does not have jurisdiction when the required notice to sue is not given. The city contends the instances are barred also because the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment already had taken action on the discharges before Sierra notified the city of the club's intent to sue. Sierra wants Miller to strike, that is, ignore, the city's filing because it purportedly argues issues that do not respond to what the judge asked for. The group cited, for example, Colorado Springs' argument that instances on which the state agency had taken action are barred from the lawsuit. Sierra contends that argument is improper, on grounds that Miller on Aug. 29 ruled against the city on that issue. The club asserts the Supreme Court, in a 1998 case, concluded that failure to meet the notice requirement does not deprive courts of jurisdiction in lawsuits.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:21:56 AM    

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Here's a look at a new study on the spread of mercury in waterways from The Environment News Service. From the article:

Mercury atmospheric emissions will end up in fish in as little as three years, according to new research by a multidisciplinary team of about 50 researchers from the United States and Canada. The study concludes that if mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants and other industrial activities were to be reduced immediately, the amount of mercury showing up in fish would begin to go down within a decade. Called METAALICUS - Mercury Experiment to Assess Atmospheric Loading in Canada and the United States - the research involved government agencies and universities on both sides of the border. "Before this study, no one had directly linked atmospheric deposition of mercury emissions and mercury in fish," says study co-author Vincent St. Louis of the University of Alberta. But this research provides "undeniable proof of a direct link," said St. Louis.

The study was conducted at the Experimental Lakes Area, near Dryden, Ontario, a freshwater research station with a long history of limnological research, including studies based on the manipulation of lakes. Scientists from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's Microbial Ecology Lab participated in the study and explained how it was conducted.. The mercury load to the study ecosystem is being increased by a factor of about five over current local atmospheric ambient deposition, using highly-enriched stable mercury, Hg, isotopes, they said. "Three separate isotopes are being used to dose the upland, wetland and lake," they explained. "This unique approach is allowing us to track the fate of newly deposited Hg separately from the larger existing pools, through time, and across various habitats." The experiment filled a major gap in scientists' understanding of how mercury moves from the atmosphere through forests, soils, lakes and into the fish that people eat.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:15:19 AM    

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Proponents of Grand Valley Lake haven't given up hope that it will be built, according to The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

The backers of Grand Valley Lake are hoping to float a deal in which the state will pay for a feasibility study for the proposed 2,000-acre lake on East Orchard Mesa. Lake promoters put out a feeler Tuesday to the Colorado Water Conservation Board, acquainting the statewide panel with the project, which would divert water from the Gunnison River, and promising to submit a formal application for funding of the study...

The project needs the state's help to determine whether it actually could fulfill its promise as a supplier of municipal and industrial needs and electricity. It's also billed as a provider of water for endangered fish in a stretch of the Colorado River through the Grand Valley. Grand Valley Lake backers hope to divert Gunnison River water near Austin to a natural depression south of Mount Garfield, on the opposite side of the valley. It's estimated the project would cost between $200 million and $500 million, with the biggest variable being the cost of digging a 60-mile canal, beginning near Austin, to the 19,000-acre-foot reservoir, backers said. The lake then would provide gravity feeds of water to Orchard Mesa for irrigation and to Redlands Water and Power for electricity generation. Backers have sought the support of the Colorado and Gunnison river basin roundtables, but have yet to get definitive reactions from either board. Steve Glazer of the Gunnison roundtable said that panel still had many questions, among them the environmental consequences of the proposal and the intent of the backers themselves...

The state has a real stake in Grand Valley Lake, [Grand Junction attorney Rick Wagner, a member of the nonprofit council.] said, because it could resolve issues upstream, including giving comfort to junior rights holders now vulnerable to calls from Redlands Water and Power in the Grand Valley. If Redlands got its water from Grand Valley Lake, it would no longer threaten those upstream water users, he said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:01:51 AM    

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Here's a recap of last Saturday's Great Colorado Rivers Cleanup along Bear Creek from The Canyon Courier. From the article:

Officially, last Saturday marked Colorado Trout Unlimited's fourth annual Great Colorado Rivers Cleanup, and at least 15 chapters from Granby to Salida assembled in force to tidy up their favorite fishing holes. As it happens, the mountain area's reel-and-creel set has been scouring local waterways twice a year for decades...

Since Colorado Trout Unlimited officially exists to conserve, protect and restore the state's coldwater fisheries, it seems only natural that its 10,000 card-carrying members would gladly spend the odd sunny morning straightening up their aquatic playpen. But, to hear Ledyard tell it, their mission goes far beyond ensuring a plentiful supply of savory pan-fried rainbows. "We all fish, but Trout Unlimited is first, last, and always an environmental organization," Ledyard said. "Clean fish in a clean river is one indicator of a clean planet, and that[base ']s everybody's responsibility."

Category: Colorado Water

5:51:36 AM    

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