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 23, 2008

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From the Parker Chronicle (Chris Michlewicz): "Residents served by the Parker Water and Sanitation District could soon see their monthly water bills increase by $15. The district's board of directors will decide Dec. 11 whether to approve an increase in water service fees, tap fees, sewer fees and water rates. Most customers within the district would pay an average of $15 more per month, depending on the amount of water used. Officials have not raised water rates since 2005, but are citing increases in operational and maintenance costs, as well as inflation, for the latest proposal."

Category: Colorado Water
9:11:12 AM    

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From the Longmont Times-Call (Jason Gonzales): "Longs Peak Water District has given up trying to draft an agreement with Centex after negotiating for three months with the company to build an irrigation system for Liberty Ranch.

More from the article:

"We weren't able to get (the agreement) in any format that Centex was comfortable with," said Barry Dykes, general manager of Longs Peak Water District. "We finally just threw up our hands and said, 'Well we can't get this. Maybe you guys can try.' They agreed to do so, and we haven't heard from them since (Nov. 10)." Centex is still optimistic it can finish the project in time and not leave residents with only tap water to irrigate their yards next summer, representative Julie Callahan said in a statement. The company will still be working with the water district to quickly resolve the remaining details of the project, she said. Dykes thinks many of the problems Centex had with the agreement Longs Peak drafted for the brown water irrigation system could be fixed by the company, he said.

Construction of the irrigation system will cost about $700,000 and will take about 120 days, he said. The system will use non-potable ditch water that will be pumped to a holding pond. The water will then be pumped to Liberty Ranch homeowners for outdoor use. Residents of the area already paid for the construction of the system and feel they should receive what is theirs, said Liberty Ranch residents Steve and Sharron Kilgore...

If the irrigation system isn't ready by spring, residents of the area will have to resort to using costlier tap water. Longs Peak cannot continue to supply treated water for irrigation to the area because of water quotas, and watering lawns with treated tap water would also put strain on Longs Peak's water quota, Dykes said.

Category: Colorado Water
9:07:29 AM    

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From the Associated Press via Summit Daily News: "Colorado will start monitoring mercury emissions from power plants, a step toward a state rule dramatically slashing mercury emissions over the next decade. Colorado's Air Quality Control Commission approved the monitoring rule Thursday. It will affect 11 plants. Federal environmental authorities estimate Colorado emits some 1,400 pounds of mercury a year, but an exact measure won't be known until the power plants are monitored."

More coverage from the Denver Post (Mark Jaffe):

The state Air Quality Control Commission on Thursday approved a requirement for systematic monitoring of mercury emissions from power plants starting Jan. 1. The monitoring is the first part of a state rule requiring an 80 percent cut in mercury emissions by 2014 and a 90 percent reduction by 2018. The vote puts Colorado among a handful of states, including Connecticut and Arizona, with rules to control power-plant mercury emissions...

The EPA's national mercury control plan was struck down by a federal appeals court in February because it would have removed power plants from controls. The court ruled that the Bush administration had failed to follow the requirements of the Clean Air Act...

Under the Colorado regulation, power plants will begin monitoring their mercury emissions and report them to the state Air Pollution Control Division. Eleven plants come under the rule. The larger ones will use continuous monitors, and the smaller ones will do periodic stack tests. "The first thing we have to do is get a better handle on exactly how much mercury is being emitted," said Kirsten King, the division's manager for stationary sources. Although the EPA mercury emissions estimate was 1,400 pounds, subsequent analysis indicate emissions in the state might be between 800 and 1,000 pounds, King said. By 2012, Xcel Energy's Pawnee plant and the Platte River Power Authority's Rawhide plant will cut their emissions by 80 percent. All other plants will face a 2014 deadline to cut emissions by 80 percent. "Pawnee and Rawhide are two of the biggest plants in the state, and they voluntarily agreed to go first," King said.

Xcel spokesman Joseph Fuentes said the utility saw the Colorado rules as an opportunity. "There are going to be mercury emission controls, and this puts us ahead of the curve," Fuentes said. There are no estimates yet on how much it will cost the utility or rate-payers for Xcel to comply with the regulation, he said. The rule had no opposition because of negotiations among key parties, said Kevin Lynch, a lawyer with the Boulder office of the Environmental Defense Fund. "It was a collaboration among state officials, industry, local government and environmental groups," Lynch said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:49:36 AM    

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From the Pueblo Chieftain (Robert Boczkiewicz): "The city of Aurora on Friday denied that two Arkansas River water users have suffered an irreparable injury from a contract allowing the city to store and exchange water in Lake Pueblo. Aurora stated its position in a court filing answering a lawsuit of the two water users, the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and Arkansas Valley Native LLC. The two users have sued in U.S. District Court, asking a judge to nullify the contract between Aurora and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The bureau operates Lake Pueblo reservoir and the other parts of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, which supplies municipal and agricultural water to the Arkansas River basin. Aurora's answer asserted the Lower Arkansas district and Arkansas Valley Native are not entitled to any legal relief. Opponents of the contract, signed 14 months ago, contend it will facilitate water transfers to Aurora that will dry up 7,000 acres of farmland in the valley."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:38:18 AM    

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From the Loveland Reporter-Herald:

A local forester and two local programs have received 2008 Rocky Mountain Regional Forester awards. All are associated with Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland.

Hydrologist Carl Chambers was honored for excellence in water emphasis for leading efforts to secure and protect water rights for the forests, improving watershed and conducting research. Chambers is nationally recognized as an expert in forest hydrology and also is known for his knowledge of Colorado water rights.

Also honored were:

- The James Creek Watershed Initiative as the Forest and Grassland Health Partner of the Year. The initiative worked with the Boulder Ranger District to engage the community in protecting the waters of James Creek and the surrounding ecosystem.

- The Clear Creek Watershed Foundation, as Water Partner of the Year, for working with the Clear Creek Ranger District to clean up and improve the headwaters of Clear Creek.

Category: Colorado Water
8:27:40 AM    

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This is interesting. Researchers at Louisiana State University have identified strains of bacteria in the atmosphere that enable ice crystals to form at higher temperatures than dust or soot particles. There is potential for cloud-seeding using these ice nucleating bacteria, according to a report from the LSU News. From the article:

Brent Christner, assistant professor of biological sciences at LSU, recently found evidence that bacteria and biological cells are the most efficient ice-forming catalysts in precipitation from locations around the globe. The formation of ice in clouds is important in the processes that lead to snow and rain. Ice nucleating bacteria - which have been referred to as "rain-making bacteria" - may be significant triggers of freezing in clouds and influence the water cycle. These findings, which take a big step toward filling the gaps in scientific understanding of ice nuclei in the atmosphere, will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of Nov. 17.

Christner's team, which includes Kevin McCarter and Rongman Cai of LSU's Department of Experimental Statistics, and collaborators at INRA in France and Montana State University, had previously demonstrated the presence of ice nucleating bacteria in precipitation. However, the source remained elusive. "To address this, we examined the correlations between the presence of biological ice nuclei in precipitation and the composition of aerosols co-deposited in the precipitation," said Christner. The chemical composition of the aerosols revealed information on their source and the potential environments from which the biological ice nuclei could have originated. "Our models can accurately predict the concentrations of cells and biological ice nucleators in precipitation using a relatively small number of variables," he said. "The data provides a first glimpse of the conditions that appear to favor the distribution of biological ice nuclei in the atmosphere and will be useful for predicting their abundance in other contexts."

The study concludes that vegetation and soils are an important source of biological ice nuclei to the atmosphere at some geographical locations. Though they were detected in snow from places as remote as Antarctica, ice nucleating bacteria may also exist in the ocean, or alternatively, are able to travel large distances in the atmosphere. "The atmosphere provides an efficient conduit for microbial dispersal on a global scale," said Christner.

Most known ice-nucleating bacteria are plant pathogens, which are basically germs that can cause disease and freezing injury in plants. According to Christner, agricultural losses from ice nucleating bacteria, such as Pseudomonas syringae, often exceed $1 billion dollars per year in the United States, so understanding their mode of dispersal is essential for mitigating their impact on crops. It is possible that dissemination through precipitation is a crucial facet of the life cycle for some plant bacteria, allowing them to colonize new hosts.

The new results provide much territory for further study. For example, many of the variables important for predicting the cell and biological ice nuclei concentration in precipitation are nutrients vital for growth and production of these ice nucleators. "Previous work has shown that microbes can metabolize and grow in clouds, meaning that the atmosphere may represent an environment for life," said Christner. "It is possible that cloud-borne microbes could 'turn on' their ice nuclear in the atmosphere and subsequently be returned to the ground in snow or rain. This is a very exciting possibility that further research could unearth."

Thanks to the for the link. Disclaimer: I write for the

Category: Colorado Water
8:17:49 AM    

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Here's a report on the New York State Museum's attempt to corner the market on the biopesticide for zebra and quagga mussels with their patent plans, from Sara Foss writing in the Schenectady Daily Gazette. From the article:

A New York State Museum researcher has created a non-toxic alternative pesticide, using a natural bacterium that zebra mussels can feed on in small quantities, but will kill them if they eat too much of it. "Anything that kills a pest is considered a pesticide," said Dr. Daniel Molloy, director of the Museum's Field Research Laboratory in Cambridge. "This is not a chemical pesticide. This is a biological pesticide." The pesticide, which also kills the invasive quagga mussel, a relative of the zebra mussel, is likely to be available next year. Though it was invented and patented by the New York State Museum, it will be sold by the Museum's commercial partner, Marrone Organic Innovations, based in Davis, Calif. Earlier this year the company received a $500,000 National Science Foundation grant to commercialize the pesticide, and the New York State Museum received $275,000.

"[Zebra and quagga mussels] are a very big problem," said Pam Marrone, founder and CEO of Marrone Organic Innovations. "They increase costs dramatically. You can use chlorine to take care of them, but chlorine is [toxic]." She said the biopesticide will not harm the environment, because using it does not pose the same types of risks as using toxic chemicals...

In 1991, a group of power companies provided the start-up money for the project, a $700,000 six-year grant. The project was almost canceled several years later. Molloy had looked at more than 700 strains of soil bacteria, hoping to find a strain that would kill zebra mussels, but his efforts were fruitless. He told the power companies he wasn't sure he should continue, but they told him to keep working. It was good advice. Within two months, he found the strain of bacteria that worked: Pseudomonas fluorescens. Zebra mussels feed on Pseudomonas fluorescens as a matter of course, but a larger-than-usual amount of the bacteria, which is naturally present in lake water, can kill them. "It's a question of dose," Molloy said. "If you go to a pipe, and add a million times more [Pseudomonas fluorescens], and create artificially high densities of bacteria, they will feed on it until they die."

Denise Meyer, the New York State Museum's chief scientist, developed the culturing methods to grow Pseudomonas fluorescens so that it would be as effective as possible. Scientist Mike Gaylo developed the protocol for treating zebra and quagga mussels with Pseudomonas fluorescens...

Molloy said the biopesticide could also be in other contained places, such as fish hatcheries, but right now there is no way to use it in a large open water body. "That's still unexplored," he said, adding that it would be possible to seal in a marina and flood it with the biopesticide to kill the mussels...

Early next year, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will demonstrate the use of Pseudomonas fluorescens at Davis Dam, on the lower Colorado River in Bullhead City, Ariz. "They want to know if [Pseudomonas fluorescens] can be used in a dam to kill quagga mussels," Molloy said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:53:24 AM    

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