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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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb): "Today, October 22 (Monday), is the beginning of our winter operations at Ruedi Dam. That means that today at noon, we scaled back releases from around 110 cfs to 85 cfs. The 85 cfs will be our release, unless something else comes up e.g. a call on the river, etc. If there is a change, I will send an e-mail to let you know what is happening. Meanwhile, however, our 85 cfs combined with the Rocky Fork puts about 88 cfs in the Fryingpan below Ruedi Dam. The water elevation of Ruedi Reservoir is at 7747 feet."

Category: Colorado Water

7:49:52 AM    

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According to The Valley Courier it's time for irrigators to harvest their meter data for the Colorado Division of Water Resources. From the article:

San Luis Valley farmers who installed well meters this year to comply with new state regulations are now required to submit their measurement data to the Colorado Division of Water Resources, Division III Division Engineer Michael Sullivan said. State regulations went into effect this year that wells decreed for 50 gallons or more per minute in the Rio Grande Basin had to have totalizing flow meters installed on them or the wells needed to be deactivated. That regulation affected 5,000-6,000 wells in the Valley. The rules were proposed to assist the State Engineer with water rights administration and Rio Grande Compact compliance. The state maintained the information obtained by the measurements would be useful for the State Engineer to regulate the use of the confined and unconfined aquifer systems to maintain a sustainable groundwater supply and prevent injury to senior surface water rights...

Rio Grande Water Conservation District Board Member Greg Higel asked what would keep irrigators from cheating on their information. Sullivan said his office has four inspectors who are out in the field and are willing to check into meter readings that do not add up. Sullivan said he did not know the percentage of well meters that had been certified but knew his office had sent out about 400 noncompliance letters when the rules went into effect this year and received an immediate response from 95 percent of the irrigators. One irrigator took the matter all the way to court but lost and now has to comply. Sullivan said the well measurements this year are important in providing a baseline for water management sub-districts.

Category: Colorado Water

7:46:51 AM    

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From The Greeley Tribune (free registration required), "The city of Greeley is offering free water conservation assessments to all commercial, industrial, multi-family and institutional properties in Greeley. The purpose of an assessment is to provide information about water use and efficiency. The commercial assessment finds areas of water waste and develops targets for improvement. Once problem areas are located, Greeley's conservation program will help businesses implement efficiency improvements by offering technical support and rebates. Commercial water use accounts for 37 percent of Greeley's total water consumption, according to city officials. Targeting the commercial sector is a cost effective way to reduce water consumption in Greeley. The program also helps businesses reduce or eliminate surcharges for excessive water use. Businesses wishing to participate should call (970) 336-4227 to make an appointment."

Category: Colorado Water

6:51:36 AM    

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Here's an article about effluent dominated streams, endocrine disruptors, gender-bending pollution and other trace pollutants that are not removed by treatment, from The Fort Morgan Times. From the article:

The South Platte River is 90 percent wastewater below the city of Denver 90 percent of the year, according to Colorado University Integrative Physiology Professor David Norris. "All rivers in the Western United States are wastewater dominated," he said at Morgan Community College Thursday. "At least 50 percent of the time, at least 50 percent or more of the water flowing in those rivers is wastewater effluent. Most of our western rivers would not flow at all if we did not dump wastewater into them." And although wastewater treatment plants don't dump toxic water back into rivers and streams, the effluent contains chemicals that may have temporary or permanent effects on living organisms, including humans.

Norris said humans have created about 80,000 to 100,000 chemicals that never existed before on the earth. And although many have not been extensively studied, scientists have found that estrogenic chemicals added to the environment can lead to drastic abnormalities, including sex change. Norris said estrogenic chemicals come from pesticides, fertilizers, livestock drugs, plastics, latex paints, detergents and cosmetics, among many others. Many of these chemicals end up in wastewater treatment plants, which pump the water back into rivers and streams. "Basically, we find ourselves living in a sea of chemicals," he said. Norris said the estrogen controls the development of the brain, gonads, the female oviduct and uterus, sex accessory structures and some male behavior. He said embryos and fetuses exposed to too much estrogen may permanently change gender or develop male and female characteristics. Adult expopsure to high levels of estrogen may cause temporary contraception and feminization of males...

Norris said that although the chemicals in effluent can have the same effects on people and fish, humans are at less risk because they are bigger than the fish and are not constantly immersed in chemical-tainted water. Nonetheless, Norris said estrogenic and other chemicals released into the environment can lead to endocrine cancer, decreases in fertility, increase in female births, early puberty, increased defects in reproductive systems, increased learning defects, increases in autism and increased obesity. "The solution to pollution is not dilution," he said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water

6:46:57 AM    

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From The Environmental News Network, "Nitrate found in precipitation occurring in rural areas of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States is primarily caused by emissions from stationary sources located hundreds of miles away, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study. Stationary sources include coal-burning power plants and other industrial facilities. Although vehicles are the single largest emission source of nitrogen oxides in this region, distant stationary sources may have a greater impact on nitrate found in rain and snow.

More from the article:

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, presents the first large-scale investigation of nitrogen isotopes in precipitation. The authors analyzed stable nitrogen isotopes at 33 long-term National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) monitoring sites. The NADP is a cooperative nationwide program that measures air pollutant concentrations in rain and snow at more than 250 stations across the United States, most of which are deliberately located in relatively rural settings away from urban, industrial or agricultural centers. Nitrogen oxides originate from the burning of fossil fuels, including emissions from motor vehicles, electric utilities and other sources. Power plants and other stationary sources emit pollutants high in the atmosphere that can be transported for long distances before falling to the ground, while vehicles emit pollutants through tail pipes close to the ground where they are more likely to be deposited over shorter distances near roadways. Further, a portion of emissions from all sources may be deposited on the landscape in gaseous forms such as aerosols and particles in addition to precipitation. Thus the authors urge caution when interpreting their results, stating that both stationary sources and vehicles are important contributors to air pollution throughout the region. "Our results highlight the need to improve our understanding of the fate of vehicle emissions; one way we can do this is by expanding monitoring networks to include more urban sites," says Elliott.

The abstract of the ES&T article is available on-line at, under the Articles ASAP tab. Full text for the ES&T article can be obtained from Michael Bernstein, Office of Communications, American Chemical Society, (202)-872-6042 (

Category: 2008 Presidential Election

6:33:31 AM    

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