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

Urban Drainage and Flood Control District

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Friday, October 12, 2007

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Here's a report about the Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District's 2008 budget from The Sterling Journal Advocate. From the article:

The Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District board members went over the proposed budget for next year at their meeting here Tuesday. Total revenue for 2008 is estimated $382,002. This compares to $543,679 actual revenue received in 2006, and the estimated total of $319,709 for 2007. Total expenses for 2008 are estimated to be $377,605, which would leave a balance of $138,077 at the end of next year. Nov. 14 was set for a public hearing on the budget. In his report, LSPWCD Manager Joe Frank reported that he was able to get an extension for using the '2025' state grant funds for cost share on flow meters. However, state officials informed him that this was the last extension they will allow. That means irrigators in the LSPWCD need to have their flow meters installed and all the paperwork completed by Aug. 15, 2008, to receive the $450-per-meter cost share, Frank said. Frank said there is between $85,000 and $90,000 still available in the fund for use within the district.

Category: Colorado Water
7:41:03 AM    

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Here's an article about water quality in Colorado from The Rocky Mountain News. From the article:

Colorado's water is cleaner than it's ever been, but 25 percent of rivers and 43 percent of lakes still fail to meet water quality standards, according to a new report from Environment Colorado. As the 35th anniversary of the Clean Water Act approaches, more work needs to be done to shore up enforcement and monitoring work under the act, said Matthew Garrington, field director of Environment Colorado. "Certainly there have been great successes in cleaning up our waters, but we still face important challenges," said Garrington...

Roughly 45 percent of major facilities in Colorado violated their discharge permits at least once in 2005, the most recent year for which data was available, giving the state a ranking of 38 out of 50. Maine got the top spot, with nearly 87 percent of its facilities violating their discharge permits...

Colorado's soaring population growth means more water treatment plants are discharging into streams. New contaminants that can't yet be filtered, such as medical waste from antibiotics and others drugs, are causing problems for fish, and drought and climate change will likely reduce stream flows, making it harder to maintain water quality, [Steve Gunderson, director of the water quality division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment] said. Federal funding is also a problem, with cash for enforcement staying flat or even declining in some areas, and loan funds for small community infrastructure work cut in half, Gunderson said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:36:36 AM    

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So far only one presidential candidate is talking about water. Here's an article about Bill Richardson raising the hackles of environmentalists around the Great Lakes by talking about sharing, from From the article:

Michigan environmental activists Thursday accused New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson of suggesting that northern states -- including the Great Lakes region -- share water with the Sun Belt. "Richardson's assault is the latest in a lengthy list of schemes to siphon Great Lakes water to other areas of the nation and the world," said a statement issued by five groups, including the Michigan Environmental Council and the state chapter of the Sierra Club. A spokesman for Richardson, a Democratic presidential hopeful, said if elected he would "embrace a national water policy that will specifically help protect the authority of states and the rights of local communities throughout the country."

In an Oct. 4 story, the Las Vegas Sun quoted Richardson as saying as president he would encourage northern states with plenty of water to help those with shortages in the Southwest. "I want a national water policy," he said. "We need a dialogue between states to deal with issues like water conservation, water reuse technology, water delivery and water production. States like Wisconsin are awash in water." He did not refer specifically to the Great Lakes. But his remark about Wisconsin -- one of the eight Great Lakes states -- touched a nerve in neighboring Michigan. Water levels have fallen across the upper Great Lakes since the late 1990s. Lake Superior's level in September was the lowest on record for that month...

"Gov. Richardson apparently understands neither the dynamics of a Great Lakes ecosystem that renews its water at a rate of only 1 percent each year, nor the globally significant resource that the Great Lakes represent," said David Holtz, spokesman for Clean Water Action. Environmentalists said Richardson's comments underscored the need for the Great Lakes states to ratify a pending compact that would outlaw most diversions of water from the region.

Category: 2008 Presidential Election
7:26:40 AM    

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The editorial staff of The Greeley Tribune (free registration required) is opposed to an extension of the public comment period for the Northern Integrated Supply Project. They write:

When much-needed water projects are already scheduled to take 13 years for completion, the last thing we need are any additional delays. Members of the environmental group, Save the Poudre, are lobbying lawmakers to extend the public comment period to review the environmental impact statement for the Northern Integrated Supply Project. The 90-day public comment period should be sufficient to discuss the project -- especially considering the length and need of this project already...

The project is designed to reduce the amount of water transferred from agriculture in northern Colorado without limiting farmers' rights to sell their water. Glade Reservoir would take water from the Poudre that has historically been used by farmers for irrigation. In exchange, farmers would get water from the South Platte River which would be pumped to the Galeton Reservoir...

The traditional 90 days is a fair period, especially considering the growing northern Colorado water crisis. Already, with wells being shut down, there is not enough water to meet the needs for both agriculture and residential use. And in the next 25 years, northern Colorado is expected to see an influx of 1.9 million people who will need 400,000 acre-feet of water. The Northern Integrated Supply Project is a necessary first step to meeting those demands. At first glance, it appears to be a costly and time-consuming but necessary. More will be known when the environmental impact statement is released. Projects like these already take a lot of time to get off of the ground. Please lawmakers, don't take any more time than is necessary to get this project moving.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:16:40 AM    

From The Denver Post, "Denver-based law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck said Thursday that it will merge with California law firm Hatch & Parent on Jan. 1, creating one of the largest water practices in the country. 'This gives us a bigger geographical footprint, a bigger group of water clients and a broader scope of water expertise,' said Bruce James, chief executive and managing partner of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. 'It gives us the opportunity to provide water advice throughout the West at a level we couldn't before.'...The merger will make Brownstein the third-largest law firm in Denver, behind Holland & Hart LLP and Holmes Roberts & Owens LLP, and among the 250 largest law firms in the country."

Category: Colorado Water
7:10:59 AM    

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From Scenta, "Each year, in the south eastern part of Greenland alone, the glaciers produce a mass of icebergs which is equivalent to a gigantic ice cube measuring 6.5 km on all sides. But the reduction of the inland ice is accelerating. At the moment, four times as much inland ice is disappearing compared to the beginning of the decade. 'If this development continues, the melt water from the inland ice will make the world's seas rise by more than 60 cm this century,' said senior researcher Abbas Khan of the Danish National Research Centre, who was responsible for the research project. The results were obtained in co-operation with the University of Colorado and have just been published in the international research magazine Geophysical Research Letters."

Category: 2008 Presidential Election
7:06:03 AM    

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H.R. 2262, the Hardrock Mining Act of 2007, has been introduced in Congress as a set of reforms hoping to prevent some of the environmental damage from the General Mining Act of 1872. Proponents also hope to restructure the royalty system and compel mining operations to clean up after their operations are over. Here's a opinion piece about the bill from The Fort Collins Coloradoan. They write:

Mining technology has changed; the United States has evolved. Yet, today, the act that governs mining on federal lands such as Rocky Mountain National Park sits relatively unaltered. But a modern-day boom in hard-rock mining claims - particularly for uranium - should provide inspiration for passage of the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007, which was introduced in Congress this spring and is facing committee review...

Fueling modern-day concerns over this gap is that so many of the hard-rock mining companies operating in the United States today are foreign-owned, meaning they are extracting resources from public lands without any compensation to the U.S. Treasury.

A reform effort makes sense because it recognizes both the important economic contribution of mining as well as the responsibility to ensure fiscal and environmental accountability. The legislation:

> Requires the payment of royalties to the federal government based on gross extraction.

> Shifts the burden of cleanup costs from taxpayers to the mining industry. Some royalties will be used for reclamation of thousands of abandoned mines.

> Injects a citizen-review process to reassess, every three years, a mining project's bond and permit.

So far, key sticking points between the mining industry and bill proponents appear to be charging royalties on gross extraction rather than net income and additional environmental oversight.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:00:19 AM    

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