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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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

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The U.S. Senate passed a $23 billion water package today, according to The Denver Post. From the article:

The Senate, ignoring a veto threat from the White House, authorized $23 billion in water projects Monday, including work to restore the hurricane-ravaged Louisiana coast. The measure, passed by the House earlier this year, was approved 81-12. It goes to President Bush, who threatened a veto after the bill's anticipated cost ballooned by $9 billion as projects were added. Supporters of the measure are optimistic that if Bush rejects the bill, his veto will be overridden by a two-thirds majority. "He knows it's going to be overridden," said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., a leading supporter of the measure, which would give a green light - if money is approved - to hundreds of water projects in virtually every state...

The legislation authorizes $3.6 billion for wetlands and other coastal restoration, flood control and dredging projects for Louisiana, where coastal erosion and storms have resulted in the disappearance of huge areas of land. It also includes nearly $2 billion for restoration of the Florida Everglades and nearly $2 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers to build seven new locks on the upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers. The bill also would give the go-ahead for hundreds of smaller dredging, wetlands restoration and flood-control projects across the country. One senator after another called the projects critical for their respective states. The bill also calls for increased oversight of the corps, requiring an outside review of water construction projects.

Category: Colorado Water

6:31:09 PM    

Berkeley Blog: "The tipping point was how easy it was to use the device with my fingers. Deflowering my first iPod took far less effort than unwrapping the cellophane chastity belt on a CD. Last night, Dave Winer loaded me up with some great rock and roll songs, and said, 'Welcome to the 21st century.' Walking through the hills today, my ears became speakers, one bass, one treble, while the back of my head swelled into an orchestra. Colors popped out psychedelically and I felt more alive and aware of the world than cocooned into my own world, as I had mistakenly presumed. Flooding one sense -- the ears -- seems to stimulate the others.

"Like Eve, I've bitten into the Apple. And since I gave the store clerk my email address to send a receipt, I suppose a Macintosh cannot be far away."

Thanks to Dave Winer for the link.

6:12:40 PM    

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According to the USGS salinity levels in many southwestern U.S. streams has dropped over the last couple of decades. From the article:

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report today describing salinity levels in streams and ground water in parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The report concludes that although salinity varies widely throughout the region, levels have generally decreased in many streams during the past two decades. Elevated salinity levels, or concentrations of dissolved solids, can limit the suitability of water for many uses, including agricultural production and drinking water. Trends in dissolved-solids concentrations in streams were evaluated from 1974 through 2003. "The greatest change occurred during 1989 to 2003, when annual dissolved-solids concentrations decreased at more than half of the sites throughout the region," explained lead author and USGS hydrologist Dave Anning. "The reductions were widespread, as indicated by decreases at nearly all of the sites on the main stem of the Colorado and Green Rivers. We also noted increases at about one-third of the sites, while the remaining sites showed no trends."

Decreases in salinity are attributed, in part, to natural causes, such as geomorphic changes or climate variations. They also may be associated with human-related factors, such as changes in land and water use, reservoir management, trans-basin exports, and implementation of salinity-control projects. Salinity control projects include activities like using low water-use irrigation systems and re-directing saline water away from streams. USGS findings show that dissolved solids decreased from 1989 through 2003 at all sites downstream from salinity-control projects, and that the decreases were greater than decreases upstream from projects. For example, estimated annual loads of dissolved solids in the Gunnison River in the Upper Colorado River Basin decreased by about 162,000 tons per year downstream from the Lower Gunnison salinity-control unit, in contrast to a decrease of only 2,880 tons per year upstream from the unit. This net decrease is about 15 percent of the annual load in the lower Gunnison River. "This is good news," said Dr. Robert Hirsch, Associate Director for Water, "and shows successes from the region's investments in salinity control over the past several decades." Salinity-control projects have been implemented since the mid-1970s by the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Bureau of Land Management to control salinity of water delivered to Mexico, per the 1974 Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act...

Trends in dissolved-solids concentrations were less apparent in ground water than in surface water. Salinity levels varied throughout the basin-fill aquifers underlying the southwest, but generally were below 1,000 milligrams per liter. Concentrations exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency secondary drinking-water standard of 500 milligrams per liter (established for taste and hardness) throughout about half of the aquifers. The USGS study also documents the variability of salinity throughout the region - from 22 to 13,800 milligrams per liter in streams...

The report, "Dissolved Solids in Basin-Fill Aquifers and Streams in the Southwestern United States," U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5315, is available on the Internet (printed copies will be available early November). Also available on the Internet site is an interactive, user-friendly mapping tool to evaluate the spatial distribution and sources of dissolved solids in streams and ground water.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here

Category: Colorado Water

6:47:40 AM    

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The Roaring Fork Conservancy is raising $10,000 for a study of sediments left over from the August 6th flood in the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork, according to The Aspen Daily News (free registration required). From the article:

The Roaring Fork Conservancy is raising $10,000 to study conditions in the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers in the wake of the Aug. 6 flash flood of Seven Castles Creek that turned the rivers red with mud. To date, the town of Basalt and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation have committed to $2,000 each. The Roaring Fork Conservancy, which works to protect the quality of the Roaring Fork River watershed, is also requesting funding from the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the Colorado River Conservation District and Eagle County. The conservancy plans to contract with Bill Miller of Miller Ecological Consulting of Fort Collins to study the situation in the river. Miller did an exhaustive biological study of the Fryingpan River in 2003. "He has an intimate knowledge of the Pan already," said Rick Lafaro, the Roaring Fork Conservancy's executive director. "He has good baseline data and can weigh it against current conditions."[...]

Steady rains this past weekend once again turned the lower reach of the Fryingpan a light red in color and washed more sediment downstream. Heavy sediment in the river can make it difficult for fish to breathe and even after the water clears, the sediment left behind can damage the habitat of the insects that fish prey on. A catchment basin at the lower end of Seven Castles Creek built after a 1998 flood seemed to be effective at trapping sediment, but the flood this August blew out the basin and spread out a wide fan of thick mud. It's not clear whether recent rainstorms are washing mud into the Fryingpan from the creek or whether the rains are causing the mud that initially flowed into the river to move downstream. The sediment in the river hasn't seemed to dramatically affect the quality of the fishing in the Fryingpan and the Roaring Fork, although there are concerns about the long-term effect on insect habitat, especially as the red dirt is visible on the banks and bottom of the Roaring Fork River between Basalt and Carbondale...

Lofaro feels the $10,000 study will be helpful to determine if the rivers have been negatively affected and what potential solutions might be most constructive. "I want to get some science behind our recommendation," Lafaro said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:29:19 AM    

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