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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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

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From the Greeley Tribune: "The U.S. Corps of Engineers and city of Greeley will host a public hearing to take comments on the development of a feasibility study and environmental assessment for the Cache la Poudre Environmental Restoration/Flood Control, which is near Greeley. The meeting will be from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Island Grove Regional Park Event Center, 425 N. 15th Ave."

Category: Colorado Water
6:16:16 PM    

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Here's an update on Aurora's water rates, from Adam Goldstein writing in the Aurora Sentinel. From the article:

Aurorans will face an 8-percent hike in their water bills in 2009 and a 7.5-percent increase in 2010 following the new rate structure's final passage at the Nov. 24 city council meeting. Council approved the fee increases by a margin of 7-3, with councilmembers Larry Beer, Renie Peterson and Deborah Wallace voting no. The final approval came following a week's delay after the proposal failed to get the six votes necessary for passage at the Nov. 17 session...

The rate hikes would translate to an added monthly fee of $5.53 for 2009 and another $5.44 for 2010 for medium-lot users in Aurora. They come as a continuation of last year's rate restructuring, which followed widespread protests from residents regarding unreasonable increases. The new rates will be implemented at the beginning of 2009. Officials from Aurora Water have said that the proposed increases are a way to maintain the department's bond rating, and that even a minimal increase to the 2009 bonds' interest rates could translate into millions of dollars in added debt over 30 years.

Category: Colorado Water
6:09:12 PM    

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From the Brush News-Tribune (Katie Collins): "The Brush City Council authorized a contribution towards the expansion and refurbishment of the Brush Prairie Ponds Monday evening. The project, a joint venture with Ducks Unlimited and the Colorado Water Conservation Board, will allow for the renovation of a 12th diversion along the Fort Morgan canal, which was previously installed but never fully utilized to deliver water to the Prairie Pond's wetland basins."

More from the article:

The project will also involve the expansion of the ponds and the construction of laterals to deliver water from the canal. According to Duck's Unlimited regional biologist Matt Reddy, "The benefits gained from this project include full use of Fort Morgan Canal recharge water, additional wetland habitat for migratory bird species and increased recreational opportunities for the citizens of Brush," and according to City Administrator Monty Torres, the increased capacity of the ponds will allow the city to store water when available through the Morgan Ditch system. Torres explained, "The water received or stored is essential to the City of Brush as this water is the augmentation water that is used to supplement municipal well usage." The total cost of the project has been estimated at $48,212. The City of Brush will provide $18,000, with Ducks Unlimited and the Colorado Water Conservation Board to furnish the additional funding...

Ducks Unlimited has divided the project in two phases. The first of survey and design is estimated to begin in the late winter or early spring of 2009, with the second (construction phase) slated for sometime in spring of early summer of next year.

Category: Colorado Water
7:37:06 AM    

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Here's an update on Northern Colorado storage projects from Cherry Sokoloski writing in the North Forty News. From the article:

Northern Integrated Supply Project

NISP is now in the hands of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the permitting agency, which is reviewing comments and meeting with agencies such as the EPA and the Colorado Division of Wildlife to see what additional analysis needs to be done. Brian Werner of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which has been coordinating NISP for the 12 participants, said the EPA concerns, submitted about two months ago, are "the same concerns that we've known about for a long time." He added that he thinks all of the environmental concerns "can be resolved or mitigated."[...]

An additional consultant has been hired to specifically look at water quality issues that have arisen with NISP, Werner said. The firm Black & Veatch, a global engineering, consulting and construction company, will be working on those issues.

Halligan Seaman

Another proposed project, expansion of the Halligan and Seaman Reservoirs on the North Fork of the Poudre River, is currently in the draft EIS preparation stage. Peter said it will be at least one year before the document is ready for public review.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:31:36 AM    

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From the Colorado Springs Gazette (Scott Rappold): "Colorado Springs Utilities employees won't get raises next year, but the utility's 2009 budget remains otherwise intact after getting a first look by City Council on Tuesday. The council voted 6-3, on the budget's first reading, to approve the city-owned utility's budget, minus the raises. The budget forecasts an 18.9 percent rate increase next year and will be up for a final vote Dec. 9. The council must approve the rate increases separately, set for votes Dec. 9 on the increase tied to coal and natural gas costs, and Jan. 27 on water and wastewater increases."

Category: Colorado Water
7:25:13 AM    

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Four reservoirs will close at the end of November and remain closed until at least February 28th due to the high costs of inspections for zebra and quagga mussels, according to a report from Charlie Meyers writing in the Denver Post. From the article:

Chalk up another upset victory for the mussels. These pesky little mollusks, already a pain in the stern for boaters and a financial nightmare for the state, are at the bottom of boating closures at a number of reservoirs operated by Colorado Parks.

Several parks-controlled boat ramps -- Elevenmile, Spinney Mountain, Cherry Creek, Chatfield, Boyd and Navajo -- will close after Nov. 30. The first two on the list have been slammed shut by the onset of winter, as has Colorado Division of Wildlife-operated Antero Reservoir. These typically remain shuttered by ice through March, often later. Blame the other four closures on the double whammy of declining winter use and the high cost of conducting inspections for zebra and quagga mussels. In each case, the ramps will remain locked through Feb. 28, even if they are ice-free.

Lake Pueblo will be a notable exception. Rarely frozen, it will remain open to boating throughout the winter, but the ramps will be closed from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. through April 15, again to save inspection staffing during periods of low use.

At Navajo, the ramp will be closed on the Colorado side, but boaters docked at the Two Rivers Marina will have access to their craft. Launches will continue uninterrupted on the New Mexico side of the lake.

Meanwhile, here's a update on Lake Pueblo and the efforts to fight zebras and quaggas there, from Chris Woodka writing in the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Invasive clams have either taken over a small pocket of Lake Pueblo or may be living upstream, but in either case they could find life in Lake Pueblo difficult. That is the preliminary assessment of an expert hired by the Bureau of Reclamation to do risk assessment for the spread of zebra or quagga mussels in Colorado. "You may have a population living upstream of Pueblo Reservoir and they could be floating downstream," said Renata Claudi of RNT Consulting, a Canadian firm. She and her partner, engineer Tom Prescott, reviewed some preliminary findings with Reclamation officials and water providers Tuesday.

A marine biologist, Claudi has been studying invasive mussels since they were first found in the Great Lakes in 1988. At the time she was working with Ontario Hydro. In 2000, she formed RNT, which has tracked invasive aquatic species in South America and Europe as well as North America. She has written books on the subject. She pointed out that only dead veligers - the larval form of mussels - have been confirmed by DNA testing so far, and that no adults or live veligers have been found. The veligers, if they were alive in the first place, are instantly killed during the current sampling protocols. About 99 percent of the veligers die naturally, Claudi said.

What's puzzled researchers has been the lack of any adults or even settlers - which are about the size of ground pepper grains - at Lake Pueblo...

So where are the adult clams? "They are hard to find. It's like sampling little clouds," Claudi said. "It is entirely possible there is no adult population in Lake Pueblo."

That would be welcome news, since in warmer lakes along the Colorado River - Havasu, Mohave and Mead - new rules about mussel behavior are being written. Claudi explained that mussel research previously has been based on their spread across the Eastern United States or their behavior in Europe. The mussels overtake dams and beaches, plug water or sewage lines and strip lakes of nutrients needed by other creatures. On the Colorado River, quaggas are breeding year-round, up to six generations. They are also attaching themselves to dams and other structures up to 200 feet deep. Zebras and quaggas are the only two species of freshwater clams in North America that are able to latch onto surfaces, rather than simply drift with currents.

The good news at Lake Pueblo, based on a brief examination that will be fleshed out in a full report early next year, is that the dissolved oxygen could hit a low point just when other conditions are ripe for a mussel explosion. Mussels need certain levels of pH, temperature and calcium to thrive, and all of those factors, based on Reclamation studies from the 1980s, show there should be an intense mussel population at Lake Pueblo, particularly during the June-September period. But oxygen levels in the water during that time are erratic. While the top 20 feet or so are usually fully saturated, oxygen in the lower levels of the reservoir is often depleted, making life difficult for the invaders. The fact that Lake Pueblo rises and falls 20-40 feet every year also disrupts potential habitat for the clams. At Tuesday's meeting, an engineer pointed out that the Arkansas River upstream of Lake Pueblo is highly oxygenated. While the clams can't survive in swift currents, they could live in ponds or backwaters upstream, places that have not been sampled, Claudi speculated. More study will be needed to identify where the mussels who are generating the veligers actually live. Still, Lake Pueblo is a big place and they could be hiding anywhere, even in the lake as first suspected...

The behavior of the mussels at Lake Pueblo means that Reclamation will have to develop site-specific responses, relying on a mix of approaches depending on where problems develop, Claudi said. Prescott, the engineering specialist in the RNT team, said there likely would be little risk for pipes where water continually flows or for trash racks for the lowest levels in Pueblo Dam. Gates and drains are regularly monitored and at little risk. Branch lines used intermittently or infrequently are at more risk.

Types of treatment vary widely, including silicon paint on vulnerable areas, chemicals, ozone, hot-water flushes or ultraviolet light, Prescott said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:12:31 AM    

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