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

Subscribe to "Coyote Gulch's Colorado Water" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A picture named geothermalenergy.jpg

Here's a look at the newly minted emphasis on geothermal energy from Rocky Mountain Water Issues. They write:

Geothermal Power, termed the prolific renewable source that most people have never heard of by LA Times reporter Marla Dickerson, is energy that is generated by heat stored in the earth. The most common technique of harnessing this energy is to drill into underground reservoirs tapping steam and very hot water that are used primarily to drive power turbines. And most importantly Geothermal Power is an energy source is that it is both fully renewable and clean - greenhouse gas emissions are minimal...

Relative to non-renewable energy sources there are, however, some environmental concerns associated with geothermal energy. Hot water from the deep below the earth's surface contains trace amounts of toxins such as mercury and arsenic and care has to be taken with respect to where the water is discharged. This has raised the concerns of groups such as the Wilderness Society who, although supporting the development of geothermal programs, are questioning the speed at which changes are taking place. Lack of adequate planning with respect to waste disposal has been the downfall of many operations that seek to use underground resources.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News
8:02:32 AM    

A picture named groundwater.jpg

Here's an announcement for an lecture on groundwater from Colorado Trout Unlimited:

Importance of ground water to Colorado

Tuesday, November 18, 2008, 11:00 AM Lory Student Center, Room 213

Guest Lecturer, Robert A. Longenbaugh, Consultant Water Engineer is a two-time CSU Alumni and ex-professor. He has over 47 years experience working in the ground water profession with 19 years teaching and applied groundwater research at Colorado State University (1960-1980); followed by 11 years (1981-91) as Assistant State Engineer for groundwater for Colorado. As Assistant State Engineer he coordinated the Engineering data analyses and testimony in the US Supreme Court Law suite by Kansas against Colorado on the Arkansas River Basin. Since 1991, he has done part time groundwater consulting and conducted a variety of educational classes.

Lecture topics:

Description of the major aquifers in Colorado and current issues controlling their use
History and issues of conjunctive use in Colorado
Focus on alluvial aquifers, such as the South Platte
Need for legislative and administrative change to allow us to optimize the use of both ground and surface water
Discussion on potential employment for both graduate and undergraduate students in the ground and surface water fields

Event Contact: Domenico Bau can be reached at (970) 491-6060

Sponsored by Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

7:57:05 AM    

A picture named wastewatertreatmentwtext.jpg

Montrose officials showed off improvements to their treatment plant this week, marking the end of the expansion project, according to a report from Kati O'Hare in the Montrose Daily Press. From the article:

The city of Montrose recognized the completion of its Wastewater Treatment Plant's large expansion Wednesday with a presentation and tour of the facility. In 2007, Montrose City Council approved a contract with Garney Construction out of Littleton, Colo. to expand the plant and increase capacity by 50 percent. The contract was for $3.5 million and included a third oxidation ditch and secondary clarifier. Later, council approved an additional $290,000 for a second pump house that would accommodate growth and allow for a fourth oxidation ditch and clarifier. The total project cost around $3.8 million, said David Spear, the city's public information officer. A 2002 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency paid for $1.9 million of that cost. The rest of the project was paid through capacity, tap and residential fees...

EPA regulations determine the size and capacity of treatment plants. Expansion is recommended when capacity is at 80 percent. Before the project, the plant had two oxidation ditches and clarifiers. Each ditch has a capacity of 1.44 million gallons per day. The new ditch also has a capacity of 1.44 MGD. All three ditches were being used by the first of October, said Allen Coriell, plant manager. The expansion allows the facility to drain one of the ditches and conduct necessary maintenance...

The plant was built in 1984, Spear said. It has not been expanded since that time because it was built with growth in mind. Montrose's population was about 8,700 people in 1980 and is now around 17,000, he said. "It had excellent capacity when it was built," Spear said. "Now we are set for many years to come." The addition of the pump house allows for later expansion. According to study numbers, that could be around 2017, said Jason Ullmann, city engineer.

Category: Colorado Water
7:43:33 AM    

A picture named waterfromtap.jpg

From the Delta County Independent (Hank Lohmeyer):

The town's water fund will provide some of the key highlights of the Orchard City 2009 budget as trustees consider next year's finances. A planned $1.2 million expansion of the town water treatment plant would increase water fund expenses, rocketing them high above revenues for next year and, according to the proposed budget document, "Once the project is completed the fund balance will be at a dangerously low level." The town's water fund balance is anticipated to drop from an estimated $1.48 million at 2008 year end to a projected $201,341 at 2009 year end. The town's 2009 budget proposal shows a declining water tap revenue stream. From a recent high of $217,737 in water tap revenues for 2007, water tap fees have gone down precipitously to an estimated $28,800 this year (original 2008 estimate $150,000).

Category: Colorado Water
7:36:23 AM    

A picture named saguachecreek.jpg

From the Delta County Independent:

In determining the value of a conservation easement, the potential easement is first appraised without the restrictions of the conservation easement and then with the value restricted to agricultural and ranching uses. The difference between these two values is the value regarded as the charitable contribution and the basis for the tax credits. Although Colorado land owners must meet state requirements and work with state-certified appraisers, it appears that the IRS audits are targeting Colorado. The scrutiny might be due to the fact that Colorado has a generous tax credit of its own as extra incentive to preserve Colorado open space. As well, in Colorado, the credit can be used to offset tax obligations or can even be sold to third parties.

Landowners can fight back. The mission of Land Owners United, a non-profit group based out of Arkansas Valley, is to help those land owners who are involved with conservation easements and are having conflicts with the IRS and the Colorado Department of Revenue. If you have questions or concerns about conservation easements in Colorado, you may contact J.D. Wright at 719-263-5449 or email:

Responsible conservation easements are vital in preserving our Colorado heritage. In the face of economically challenging times for farmers/ranchers who are pressured by development, conservation easements are a critical tool to help sustain our Colorado heritage. By using responsible conservation easements we all win. Let's make sure that we keep this critical tool of conservation easements available to preserve our quality of life here in Colorado.

7:31:24 AM    

A picture named stormwateroutlet.jpg

From (Jeff Francis): "With the defeat of Wheat Ridge Ballot questions 2A, 2B and 2C, officials are pondering what to do next with projects that were set to be funded by revenue from the tax proposals. Ballot Question 2B, specifically, proposed a mill levy increase to finance various flood control and drainage improvements throughout the city, and particularly in the city's southeast corner. Tim Paranto, director of public works, said the extensive list of projects is essentially on hold following 2B's defeat."

More from the article:

Despite 2B's defeat, Mayor Jerry DiTullio said the projects are still not far off the city's radar. "There is a sense of urgency on my behalf," he said. "It's been an ongoing problem, especially in the southeast corner of the city. Of the $10 million (projected to come from 2B's passage), about $4 million of it was going to be done in the southeast corner of the city." DiTullio said the city is going back to the drawing board on the projects. He said financing is even more unattainable given that they do not fall under the purview of Urban Drainage and Flood Control, which will often provide matching funds if a project is of regional merit, rather than restricted to one city. DiTullio said he and city council members will have to look at other options for addressing the projects. He said the council could simply vote to create a stormwater utility and thereby charge residents an annual fee, a move that would not require voter approval. Revenue from the fee would conceivably be earmarked for drainage improvements...

More notable projects that would have been financed by 2B dollars include construction curb, gutters and sewers between West 26th and 29th avenues between Sheridan Boulevard and Fenton Street, estimated at $3.7 million. West 38th Avenue between Union and Simms also was slated for construction, costing roughly $1.8 million.

7:25:46 AM    

A picture named septictankbasics.jpg

Last week the Fremont County Commissioners approved the North Cañon Area Sewer Line Extension Local Improvement District to eliminate problems caused by septic tanks in the area, according to Debbie Bell's report in the Cañon City Daily Record. From the article:

The Fremont County Commissioners unanimously approved the formation of the North Cañon Area Sewer Line Extension Local Improvement District, a legal step required to get the project off the ground. Septic tanks in the area have created a severe health threat for the past 30 years, but the project itself was initiated about three years ago. Some residents of the area threw full support behind the project during a public hearing Tuesday, while others expressed outrage over the cost...

For years, the Fremont Sanitation District has kept an eye on the problems, including raw sewage rising from the ground, caused by high water tables and poor soil conditions. Many residents have received "cease and desist" orders because their septic tanks create severe health problems...

Commissioner Ed Norden pledged to seek further options to ease residents' monthly financial burdens. Help also is available for low-income residents to properly abandon the septic systems now in use...

The project finally is viable because of a $1.3 million Community Development Block Grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, and a $2 million, interest-free loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority. The local improvement district was required for the 0 percent interest loan. Once the project is completed, the loan will be repaid over a 20-year term. Any future housing in the district will be required to attach to the system and help repay the debt service, meaning all residents' costs would decrease because the burden would be spread out further. Fremont Sanitation District Manager George Medaris said if all proceeds as planned, the district will issue a call for bids next June. Once construction begins, the project is expected to be completed in 18 months. The project area is generally north of High Street, between York and Lawrence streets, and including several residences south of High Street between York and Pennsylvania.

Category: Colorado Water
7:13:29 AM    

A picture named solixbioreactor.jpg

Here's a look at Solix Biofuel's proposed biofuel from algae plant down in Ignacio, written by Joe Hanel in the Cortez Journal. From the article:

The Southern Ute Indian Reservation has everything Doug Henston's company needs to make oil-sunshine, water and carbon dioxide. Those three simple ingredients allow algae to grow through photosynthesis. A Colorado company, Solix Biofuels, loves the green-colored microorganisms because they are full of oil that can be refined into diesel fuel. Solix announced this week that it will start construction next year on its first large-scale algae farm, somewhere on the Southern Ute reservation. "Algae is easy to grow. If you've got a swimming pool or a coffee cup, you're probably growing algae. The issue is growing enough of it for commercial yield, and that's very difficult," said Henston, Solix's CEO and co-founder...

The Solix plant might be able to get 20 times more fuel per acre than a first-generation biodiesel system, Henston said. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory west of Denver started looking at algae as a fuel source in the 1970s. Henston founded Solix to put the science to work in making oil - and money. "There's a lot of algae companies out there, but a lot of them are science experiments. We're not a science experiment. We're getting down to business on this thing," Henston said.

The La Plata County plant will be the first in Colorado, and maybe the world, to grow algae for oil at a commercial scale, said Tom Plant, head of the Governor's Energy Office. "It's definitely the first I've heard of," Plant said. Company officials won't pinpoint the location just yet. But they say it's in the coalbed methane field and near a gas-processing plant. Solix will use produced water from coalbed methane wells (which currently is injected back underground) and waste heat and CO2 from the processing plant to grow its algae. Future expansions could use carbon dioxide from Montezuma County's McElmo Dome operation, Henston said. A major CO2 pipeline runs through the Southern Ute reservation on its way to Texas, when the gas is used to pressurize oil fields...

Plastic bags full of algae bathe in long water tanks that are a few feet deep and about the width of a lane in an Olympic swimming pool. A weather station monitors incoming sunlight, and sensors in the tanks keep constant track of the algae's condition. Solix scientists code-named their technology after the 1960s space program. The prototype tanks in Fort Collins are the Mercury stage. They will build Gemini on the Ute reservation next year, starting with a couple acres and expanding to 10 acres. And if all goes well, they want to shoot for the moon with Apollo-an installation of hundreds of acres of algae tanks, each acre churning out 3,000 gallons of oil or more every year.

Solix's 45 employees and contractors work in no-frills temporary buildings in a parking lot behind a Colorado State University laboratory. The art on the cubicle walls is simple and serious-a National Geographic poster on Peak Oil, a black-and-white printout of trends in the diesel fuel market. Chief Operating Officer Rich Schoonover has one diploma hanging on his office wall. It's a professionally framed degree with Old English lettering proclaiming him a kindergarten graduate. He hasn't hung up his master's degree in mechanical engineering from CSU. "It's about what's in here, what's up here," he said, pointing to his heart and head, "not necessarily what your pedigree is."

Schoonover's employees come to work in blue jeans, flannel shirts and fleece jackets. Many people on staff are engineers, although Solix has biologists to experiment with different algae species. The privately owned Solix was created at CSU in 2006 and still uses space in a CSU building for its biology research. The lab equipment looks like it was borrowed from a B-movie about a mad scientist. A moving table shakes beakers half full of bright green slime underneath purple-tinged lights. The La Plata plant will use species and growing techniques perfected in Fort Collins to grow large quantities of algae. It will employ eight to 12 scientists, engineers and operators to start. When it expands, it could need another six operators. Some employees will be recruited locally, said Schoonover, who will oversee construction of the Southern Ute plant. Once the algae grow, Solix employees will harvest them and separate the oil from the carbohydrates in their bodies. Solix will sell the oil and non-oil products to other companies. Oil companies are interested in buying the oil to feed their refineries. The largest American refiner, Valero, invested in Solix this week. The Southern Ute tribe also invested in the company.

And it's all because of algae, one of the simplest forms of life on the planet. "This is a very productive organism that we're using and taking advantage of its natural attributes to make energy for ourselves," Henston said. "Photosynthesis is an incredibly elegant process. It's the source of all life on Earth."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:01:01 AM    

A picture named fountaincreek.jpg

Pueblo residents will get a chance to hear about the proposed East Side park along Fountain Creek on Thursday night. The park is a recommendation in the Fountain Creek master plan, according to a report from Chris Woodka running in the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The East Side Neighborhood Association this week will hear about preliminary plans to improve and expand the park at the confluence of Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River. "I think the confluence place will improve the East Side," said Councilman Larry Atencio. "It's connected to the Plaza Verde Park and it will make a great walking area." The group will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Pueblo County Services Building at Fourth Street and Amarillo Avenue. They will look at plans that have been developed under the Fountain Creek Corridor Master Plan, a joint effort between Colorado Springs Utilities and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

the consultants have come up with a preliminary plan for a park that would stretch from the confluence to about Eighth Street. It potentially could stretch even farther up Fountain Creek, said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Ark district. Sketches of the project were shared at a Fountain Creek open house last week. So far, there is no funding for the project, but the goal of the East Side meeting is gather suggestions from those in the neighborhood about what they would like to see in the park, Winner said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

6:38:44 AM    

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2008 John Orr.
Last update: 12/1/08; 7:27:03 AM.
November 2008
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Oct   Dec