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

Project Healing Waters

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

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From email from the EPA:

Kenneth L. Schell and Twin Peaks Excavating, Inc. of Erie, Colo., have agreed to pay a civil penalty of $35,000 for alleged unauthorized discharges of excavated material to Rock Creek.

The alleged violations of the Clean Water Act occurred during the spring of 2007, when Schell and Twin Peaks excavated a new stream channel in Rock Creek and filled adjacent wetlands and approximately 150 feet of the original channel. Schell and Twin Peaks did not obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to performing this work. These actions occurred on the City of Lafayette's open space property and were performed without the City's permission or knowledge.

"EPA is taking this action to protect Colorado's water resources and to deter future violations of federal laws," said Mike Gaydosh, EPA's Assistant Regional Administrator for Enforcement in Denver. "Waters such as Rock Creek provide a variety of functions, including flood control, groundwater recharge, pollutant filtering, and habitat for plants and animals. To maintain those functions, it is imperative that those undertaking activities that alter Colorado's waters and wetlands secure a permit for their actions."

In December of 2007, EPA issued a compliance order which required Schell and Twin Peaks to correct the environmental damage and restore the impacted creek and wetlands. In March of 2008, EPA approved Schell and Twin Peaks' restoration plan which is being implemented in accordance with an approved schedule.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' permit is required before performing any work that results in material being placed into lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands. Any person planning to do such work in should contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Denver Regulatory Office at 9307 South Wadsworth Ave., Littleton, CO, 80128-6901 or telephone 303-979-4120.

For more information, visit EPA's Clean Water Act compliance web page:

Help EPA protect our nation's land, air and water by reporting violations:

More Coyote gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

Category: Colorado Water
8:14:24 PM    

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Here's some snowfall history and a look at the forecast for this year from Collin Smith writing in the Craig Daily Press. From the article:

Last winter was the "wettest La Niña ever recorded, and the second snowiest year in Steamboat ever since records began in 1908," Ramey said. He doesn't expect this winter to match the previous one, in part because climate patterns in the southern Pacific Ocean look stable, or, "as close to normal as we know," Ramey said. That means this winter will not be affected by a La Niña or an El Niño.

However, north Pacific ocean waters are colder than normal, and the combination of normal southern waters with cold northern waters has created some of the most extreme weather that Colorado has ever seen. There were 10 years in the past 50 that match current climate conditions, Ramey said, and among those, two had some of the heaviest snowfall recorded, and two were some of the driest. "That indicates we tend toward extreme weather in this weather pattern," Ramey said, adding the last time this happened was the winter of 2001-02, when meager snowfall helped create one of the worst fire seasons in Colorado history.

Category: Colorado Water
6:40:41 PM    

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From MIT (via the Environmental News Network): "The amount of methane in Earth's atmosphere shot up in 2007, bringing to an end a period of about a decade in which atmospheric levels of the potent greenhouse gas were essentially stable, according to a team led by MIT researchers.

"Methane levels in the atmosphere have more than tripled since pre-industrial times, accounting for around one-fifth of the human contribution to greenhouse gas-driven global warming. Until recently, the leveling off of methane levels had suggested that the rate of its emission from the Earth's surface was approximately balanced by the rate of its destruction in the atmosphere."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News
6:20:42 PM    

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From email from the Sierra Club List (Gigi Richard):

The Natural Resources of the West: Energy seminar series continues...

Water and Non-Renewable Energy Development in Northwest Colorado:
Oil Shale, Coal, Natural Gas, and Uranium

Dan Birch, Deputy General Manager, Colorado River Water Conservation District

Monday 10 November
4-5:30 p.m.
Saccomanno Lecture Hall (SL 110)
Mesa State College
Grand Junction, CO

Dan Birch, Deputy General Manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District will present the results of a recent study on water demands for non-renewable energy development in northwestern Colorado. The study considers water demands related to energy development including direct demands, secondary demands from population growth spurred by energy development, and water demands from power generation required for energy development, which are substantial in the case of oil shale.

Category: Colorado Water
5:51:03 PM    

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Say hello to Truth and Tall Tales. They're, "A miscellany of book reviews, rambles, opinions and outright lies." Here's the link to their post today on Golden and the Tricerotops Trail.

Back in our college days Coyote Gulch toured the brewery there many, many times just to get the free beer.

5:38:36 PM    

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From Media Newswire: "A Duke University-led study of changes in the floor of Lake Powell, the nation's second-largest reservoir, found that during a period of prolonged drought, massive transfers of sediment from the perimeter of the reservoir into its deepest sections occurred, increasing the lake's capacity to hold usable water by three percent. A paper based on the research was published in the November issue of the peer-reviewed journal Geology. 'We found that sediment accumulation into parts of the lake during a six-year period of drought increased 10 to 100 times what the lake's long-term averages were,' says Lincoln Pratson, associate professor of sedimentary geology at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment and lead author on the study. 'The total transfer of sediment from the perimeters of the lake into its deep waters equated to approximately 22 years of average sediment supply,' he says. 'Intuitively, you'd think this redistribution would decrease the lake's capacity to hold usable water. But because much of the sediment was moved from the shallow edges of the reservoir [^] where usable water can be held - to the reservoir's deepest sections below its outtake channels, where the water is unusable, the inverse was true.'"

Category: Colorado Water
6:36:55 AM    

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From the Rocky Mountain News (Jerd Smith): "Yuma County voters gave overwhelming approval to a $20 million measure designed to protect water supplies for its small towns and corn economy. By a nearly 4-1 ratio, voters agreed to buy a historic set of water rights in the Republican River. Owners of the water rights had threatened to go to court to stop some 1,300 irrigation wells from pumping. Well use was harming flows in the river. Both water sources rely on the same aquifer...

"But voters in the northeast Colorado county had the final say on the settlement because the county must raise property taxes and issue bonds to buy the water rights. Some local voters had objected to the measure, saying it amounted to a bailout of large irrigators. Yuma is the largest corn-producing county in the state and among the largest in the nation. Without voter approval, the case would have gone to court."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:27:41 AM    

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Water and sewer rates are going up 50% in Steamboat Springs, reports Tom Ross, writing in the Steamboat Pilot & Today. From the article:

The Steamboat Springs City Council reluctantly voted Tuesday night to raise water and sewer rates by 50 percent next year. That probably will not be the end of the increases. "The water fund is dangerously low," acting City Manager Wendy DuBord told council. "This is absolutely unacceptable. The water fund is broke, basically, and that's a pretty basic service."

Beginning in 2009, the average Steamboat household will pay $295 more per year for water and sewer amenities, but the sting won't immediately be felt in neighborhoods at the mountain, which are not served by city water...

The water fund now stands at $33,584. The wastewater fund is a little healthier, at about $500,000. The city's failure to increase water rates for the past 15 years, as well as the habit of subsidizing the operating budget with tap fees that should go toward capital reserves, have contributed to the crisis.

The new water rates go into effect Jan. 1, 2009, but won't directly affect all the households in the city. That's because the boundaries of the city water service area end where Fish Creek flows beneath U.S. 40 at Anglers Drive. South of that line, municipal water service is provided by the independent Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District. Sometime next year, customers in the Mount Werner district will begin paying the wastewater increase because the city provides that service to the district at its treatment facility west of town...

A family using that much water currently pays a base charge of $10 per month and then $1.58 for every 1,000 gallons, up to 12,000 gallons. Higher charges kick in at consumption of 13,000 gallons a month, up to 20,000. Consequently, the final 1,000 gallons of an average consumption is billed at $2.42 for a total water bill of $31.38. If rates including the base charge are increased by 50 percent next year -- should council give final approval to the ordinance supported Tuesday -- that bill would increase to $47.07 per month, representing a monthly increase of $15.69 and an annual increase of $188.28. Residential customers are billed flat rates for wastewater treatment. That charge would increase from $17.92 monthly to $26.88, or $107.50 annually. That's a total of $295 more per year for the average Steamboat household...

City Finance Director Lisa Rolan told council the 50 percent increase will not be enough to rebuild the city's reserves and that customers are likely to see a series of rate increases in the future. "You're going to be looking at 30, 40, 50 percent (increases) for the next few years," Rolan said. The city increased water rates by 5 percent in January, but that didn't really dent the shortfall in the reserves. The new 50 percent increase should add $150,000 to a total of $178,000, Assistant City Finance Director Bob Litzau said...

Rolan said she thinks water and wastewater, which each is assigned its own enterprise fund, should be able to stand on their own like a business. But they aren't financially healthy enough to do that right now. Shelton said a contributing factor to the condition of the water and sewer funds is that, prior to January, rates had not been increased since 1993. In 15 years, the city has not attempted to recover even the rate of inflation. Tap fees, collected when new buildings are permitted, have been raided to make up shortfalls.

Category: Colorado Water
6:24:35 AM    

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From the Pueblo Chieftain: "Two meetings this month will give the public a chance to review the results of studies by the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force and the Technical Advisory Committee of the Fountain Creek Watershed Plan...Other projects on Fountain Creek that will be shared at the meetings are Fountain Creek Corridor Master Plan, Fountain Creek Foundation, Colorado Highway 24 project, Streamside Systems and Trout Unlimited's Upper Fountain Creek Project. Pueblo: 5:30-8 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Pueblo Convention Center, 320 Central Main St. Colorado Springs: 5:30-8 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Leon Young Service Center, 1521 Hancock Expressway."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

6:15:33 AM    

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Here's an opinion piece, written by Dr. Curtis E. Swift in the Grand Junction Free Press, making the case for Coloradans to worry about the water shortages currently appearing in California and show a bit of empathy. From the article:

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to attend the annual Irrigation Association conference in Anaheim, Calif. Attending this conference gave me an opportunity to present a paper on the lack of water conservation in western Colorado. (You can find my paper at This also gave me an opportunity to meet with and discuss water issues with professionals from all over the West. One of the panels on Monday evening covered the seriousness of the problem California faces with its water supply. Listening to the panel reminded me that 50 percent of the fruits, vegetables and nuts consumed throughout the United States come from California. This was certainly enough to get my attention.

Energy independence from foreign countries is a serious issue. The issue of our country being capable of producing our own food is also critical. These are national security issues and not something to take for granted. While we have some fantastic producers of vegetables and fruits in western Colorado, we can not produce everything we need. We need California producers to produce much of what we eat.

Category: Colorado Water
6:11:21 AM    

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Here's a recap of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District's Fall Water Users Meeting, from Bill Jackson writing in the Greeley Tribune. From the article:

The meeting attracted about 150 water providers from the region who got updates ranging on the past water year that ended Oct. 31 to the current status of new water storage projects...

But it was Andy Pineda, the district's water resources department manager, who got everyone's attention when he said there are indications the drought that started in 2000 is not yet over. Pineda based his findings on a climate change report released about a month ago by the Colorado Water Conservation Board and research he's conducted...

The past water year was an abnormality to the report, however, as the runoff came later that expected. That could be one indication that the state is not out of the drought, Pineda said. And the period 2000-2008, using tree ring and other data, rivals some of the driest periods on record, dating back to the 1600s, Pineda added...

Meanwhile, two water projects, the Windy Gap Firming Project and the Northern Integrated Supply Project, continue to move forward, Northern officials said.

Jeff Drager, deputy manager of the engineering division of Northern, said the comment period on Windy Gap -- which involves the construction of the 90,000-acre-foot Chimney Hollow Reservoir west of Carter Lake -- ends Dec. 29. Public hearings on that project have been completed, and the final environmental impact statement is expected next year. If things go as planned, construction could be completed by 2014. There are 13 partners involved in that project, including the city of Greeley. The project is designed to provide additional storage from Windy Gap, which is southwest of Lake Granby on the Western Slope.

Carl Brouwer, manager of Northern projects, said NISP continues to move ahead and there were no comments "that can't be addressed that would stop the project." He expects the final environmental impact statement early next year, then mitigation issues will be addressed. That project includes the Glade Reservoir northwest of Fort Collins and the Galeton Reservoir east of Ault and is designed to provide an additional 40,000 acre-feet of water annually to 15 partners involved in the project.

Category: Colorado Water
6:01:36 AM    

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