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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Sunday, November 9, 2008

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Here's an update on oil shale leasing shenanigans by the outgoing Bush administration, from the AP via the Examiner Denver. From the article

Colorado officials say an analysis of the effects of commercial oil shale development in the Rockies is "greatly deficient" and that the federal government should hold off on final regulations instead of issuing them before year's end as planned.

Meanwhile an environmental group has asked the U.S. Department of the Interior to reverse a plan to forego the usual public protest period for such a decision. Environmentalists say the Bush administration is trying to bypass protests to push through a plan for oil shale development before they leave office. Environmentalists and some Colorado officials have accused the Bush administration of hurrying to open about 2 million acres of federal land in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah to commercial oil shale. Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, a Democrat, has said the administration is in "a headlong rush" to finish oil shale rules without adequately assessing potential impacts on the region's air, water, wildlife and communities...

Gov. Bill Ritter wrote in a letter Tuesday to Bureau of Land Management Director James Caswell that the agency's environmental review and regulations lack the kind of analysis necessary to tell whether they're consistent with Colorado's laws and policies. The BLM should wait for results of ongoing research and development before issuing regulations, he wrote. Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, has questioned moving ahead on oil shale when the technology isn't proven. Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican, has urged federal officials to finalize the rules before a new administration takes over. President-elect Barack Obama has said he thinks more research is needed to determine whether the amount of oil mined from the shale would justify the impacts of development.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

7:33:28 AM    

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From the "Health crews are cleaning up a hazardous spill in the St. Charles Mesa Creek in Pueblo County, which is responsible for killing off fish but so far has not sickened any residents. The spill happened on Friday at the Comanche Power Plant, said Sarah Bruestle of the Pueblo County Health Department. Bruestle said Lyme, a by-product of burning coal, was spilled into the water shed."

Category: Colorado Water
7:25:48 AM    

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Here's an article speculating about President-Elect Barack Obama's choice to lead the Department of Interior from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

Whoever takes this post will affect nearly every facet of life in the western third of the U.S., from where you recreate on weekends to the air you breathe and the water you drink. That person will oversee more than 507 million acres of public land, including vast reaches of rangelands, mountains and high desert, wildlife refuges and the 84.3 million acres found in all 58 national parks. There's also the not-so-small matter of the more than 600 dams that supply water for an estimated 31 million Westerners and irrigate millions of acres of pasture and farms. And lest we forget, there's all that oil and gas underlying the surface, along with abundant reserves of coal, molybdenum and other mining concerns, all under the aegis of the Interior Department. Did we mention this position is important?[...]

Whomever is selected, the head of the Interior Department should be someone from the West, with a Westerner's background on water, natural resources and public-land issues. Horace Greeley certainly got that one right.

President-Elect Obama Coyote Gulch is available for the job and ready to serve.

Category: Colorado Water
7:20:28 AM    

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Here's short article on non-native phreatophytes from Tim D'Amato writing in the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

Other phreatophytes have been introduced into the western U.S. that have become invasive plant problems. Two such species are tamarisk, or saltcedar (Tamarix spp.), and Russian olive trees (Elaeagnus angustifolia). These non-native species were brought into the western U.S. to serve as windbreaks, stabilize streambanks and for ornamental plantings. Unfortunately, tamarisk and Russian olives have invaded river systems, displacing native plants and in many cases forming solid stands. Less plant diversity means less wildlife diversity, and denser stands of trees utilize greater quantities of water.

Because of the cost to Colorado's environment and economy, the Colorado Department of Agriculture has placed both species on the state noxious weed list. These trees cannot be sold by plant nurseries in the state. Also, citizens are encouraged or required to remove them from their property.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:10:42 AM    

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Here's an article speculating about the Pueblo Board of Water Works plans to lessen their requirements for transbasin water, from Chris Woodka at the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Pueblo Board of Water Works is preparing to move on its long-range water resources plan, a 100-year blueprint to secure a larger water supply less dependent on transmountain imports, in the next year. But specific details won't be available until the Nov. 18 public hearing on the agency's 2009 budget, said Alan Hamel, executive director...

The water board has budgeted $72.8 million for water rights acquisition next year, an indication that it is planning something big. It also reaffirmed the need for the 100-year plan at its board meeting in September.

In late 2007, the water board announced its long-range plan, along with an attempt to purchase a controlling interest in the Bessemer Ditch. The water board pulled out of that project because there were not enough shareholders willing to sell at the price offered by the water board. In September, after it was revealed El Paso County water interests were attempting to buy shares on the Bessemer Ditch, Hamel said the water board is still interested in obtaining Bessemer shares if there are willing sellers...

The water board will get full details at the November meeting on a package of programs that are part of the long-range plan, but Hamel said he could not talk about them beforehand. At a budget workshop Thursday, the water board looked at plans that include financing of a $40 million bond issue that would provide part of the $72.8 million...

Also included in the package would be an expansion of leases, which are one-time sales of water that do not change water rights ownership. "Part of the long-term water resources plan is to minimize the impact on ratepayers," Hamel said. "One way to do that is with interruptible leases." This year, total lease revenue was $4.8 million, but the new budget increases that to $8.16 million. The largest chunk will come as the third unit of Xcel Energy's Comanche Power Plant comes on line. The revenue in 2009 is projected to increase to $4.45 million from $2.5 million this year. Revenues from a lease and a trade with Aurora will increase to $1.4 million in 2009 from $1.3 million this year. A trade tied to Aurora's water rates will bring in $557,000, while a lease tied to Pueblo water rates will generate $863,000. Leases of raw water to other users will jump to $2.29 million from $964,000 this year. About three-fourths of the leases would be long-term, meaning more than one year in length, but Hamel would not provide more details.

The budget also looks to bring in $19.26 million in revenues from metered sales, about 65 percent of the total operating revenue of $29.1 million. The number is difficult to predict, since lawn irrigation depends on weather conditions, explained Seth Clayton, finance manager. The water board used a conservative estimate of 126,000 gallons per customer in computing the number, based on a 4.75 percent increase in water rates. In 2008, the average customer will have used 130,000 gallons. The average for the past five years is 129,000 gallons per year.

Category: Colorado Water
7:01:37 AM    

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