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

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Project Healing Waters

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Monday, December 8, 2008

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Here's a look at the reaction to Colorado Springs' proposed Southern Delivery System from landowners along the route, from Chris Woodka writing in the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Two questions gnaw at rancher Gary Walker when he thinks about the proposed Southern Delivery System: Are the thousands of acres of new development in Colorado Springs worth even one acre of his ground? Should he go to war against "progress" - again - or sell out? The answer to the first question is always easy for Walker: No. The second is getting harder to answer. "I don't know what it would be like to live in an area where I didn't have CIG (Colorado Interstate Gas), Qwest, trash from Pueblo West, poachers, tanks coming through my fences from Fort Carson and dust from every direction," Walker said.

More local reaction to the project, from Dennis Darrow writing in the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The 66-inch diameter pipeline would be buried in a trench about 12 to 15 feet deep on the eastern edge of the major utility corridor that already runs through the area. The utility corridor is easily identifiable because it includes large power lines and a dirt trail used by pedestrians, equestrians and cyclists. Already buried in the ground in the corridor is the Fountain Valley Conduit water pipeline. The SDS pipeline would get buried just to the east of the Fountain Valley pipeline. The construction area would run 100 feet wide and be fenced off to prevent access. About 20 local roads would be crossed. Under larger roads such as U.S. 50 and Industrial Boulevard, builders would tunnel beneath to avoid traffic tie-ups. Minor roads would be temporarily closed and alternative routes provided. The main above-ground structures of the pipeline are air vents, drains and manholes. About six vents (to be installed on higher ground, including some privately held land) and six drains (on lower ground, mostly publicly held land) would get installed. Manholes would be more evenly spaced and located near roads. Colorado Springs estimates that construction would impact specific neighborhoods for about three weeks and the Pueblo West community as a whole for several months. Any disturbed land would be re-landscaped and re-seeded. Of course, the handful of Pueblo West homeowners closest to the route are faced with far greater impacts, including the likelihood of needing to relocate.

Here's the link to a slide show about pipeline construction, from the Pueblo Chieftain.

Here's a look at the EPA's comments on the SDS environmental impact statement, from Chris Woodka writing in the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Some parts of "environmental" are conspicuously missing in an environmental impact statement being prepared by the Bureau of Reclamation for the Southern Delivery System. After reading the draft EIS, the Environmental Protection Agency wanted to identify the least environmentally damaging practicable alternatives; determine what the health impacts of more water in Fountain Creek would be for Pueblo East Side residents; include the cumulative impacts of the Preferred Storage Options Plan and Arkansas Valley Conduit; look at the cumulative impacts of growth from the Banning-Lewis Ranch on Fountain Creek; and avoid segmenting the project between Corps of Engineers and Reclamation evaluations. Those were the preliminary concerns relayed by Larry Svoboda, director of the National Environmental Policy Act program for EPA, in his comments on the draft EIS...

The EPA is not the only agency complaining about the way environment was treated in the draft EIS. A coalition of environmental groups, Trout Unlimited and the Sierra Club questioned everything from the narrow purpose and need statement - it looks only at the needs of Colorado Springs and its partners - to the lack of alternative energy sources in running SDS pumps. They protested the narrow range of alternatives. They questioned whether the water quality of stormwater would be made worse by increased releases of effluent in Fountain Creek and more impermeable surfaces in Colorado Springs. They recommended writing Fountain Creek into the EIS, avoid all wetlands (rather than mitigating damages), identifying specific stream flows and ensuring that everything that could be done to conserve municipal water was, in fact, being done. There are other impacts on water quality that are difficult to determine from the draft EIS. The report looks at broad averages in space and time, but the actual effects could be more dramatic. A chart presented by Colorado Springs Utilities at one of the 1041 meetings in October showed that levels in Lake Pueblo, which now can drop or increase 50 feet in a year and which can vary 15-30 feet in a season, could change by as much as 20 feet once SDS is in place.

From the Pueblo Chieftain (Bill Alt):

Thank you for inviting our comments on the proposed Colorado Springs Utilities' SDS project and request for a Pueblo County 1041 land-use permit. Turkey Creek Conservation District has had and continues to have serious concerns about the effect that SDS will have on agriculture, people and natural resources within the district. The Turkey Creek Conservation District contains a diversity of land uses and people, all of which will be impacted if the SDS project is allowed to be implemented. The concerns of my constituents and of the Turkey Creek Board, of which I am president, revolve mostly around the additional surface flows added to Fountain Creek. It is important to understand that storm surge and flash flood events have already been increased dramatically along the creek from the addition of large amounts of impervious surfaces upstream. This already has led to severe consequences to include: massive flood events, destruction of agricultural diversions and irrigation equipment, deposition of sediment in some agricultural fields and loss of land to others.

And finally, here's an opinion piece written by Betsy Markey and John Salazar arguing for the protection of the Arkansas Valley and its agricultural production, from the Pueblo Chieftain.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:03:56 PM    

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Here's Part Six of Bill Hudson's series "Funny Smelling Water Facts" running in the Pagosa Daily Post.

"colordado water"
7:02:18 PM    

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Here's a look back in time at when Colorado Springs was pushing the Elephant Rock Reservoir near Buena Vista, from Chris Woodka writing in the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Back in 1989, there was no such thing as Southern Delivery System. But there were plans on the books for it. Big plans. Sweeping plans. And plans for a new reservoir on the Arkansas River near Buena Vista. Improvement of lakes in Crowley County. Pipelines coming into Colorado Springs from three directions. Maps that swept the state in a 75-mile radius with potential impacts from a water project that had yet to be articulated.

The first hint something big was happening, to most the outside world, was a water filing in Division 2 water court in late 1990, when Colorado Springs applied for Elephant Rock Reservoir near Buena Vista. Over the next five years, Colorado Springs evaluated all of the alternatives, infuriating folks in the Upper Arkansas Valley with its Elephant Rock plan. The Friends of the Arkansas, a group 500 members strong, put up signs that still read "Don't Let Colorado Springs Drown this Valley." The plan for an on-channel reservoir was shuffled to the back of the deck in Colorado Springs' 1996 Water Resources Plan, and the city's utilities staff started talking seriously about only one option shortly after it was released: a pipeline from Pueblo Dam.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:40:18 PM    

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From (David Ortiviz): "Colorado Springs Utilities wants to help build a new recreational area along Fountain Creek but it won't be located in the Springs, it will be in Pueblo. There are plans to build bike trails, a splash park, and new landscaping along Fountain Creek between 8th St. and the confluence with the Arkansas River. The project is part of a joint effort between Colorado Springs Utilities and the Lower Arkansas River Valley Conservation District. C.S.U. says the project will also improve the water quality. They also plan to put ground cover over the existing rock levy--to help control erosion and improve overall access."

More coverage from Dennis Darrow writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

An effort by the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force to bring local governments together to adopt a unified policy in support of the recommendations stalled following the release of the Corps' list. There is some movement toward implementation. As a condition of its proposed SDS water pipeline, the city of Colorado Springs pledges to implement the flood-control suggestions. And the city of Fountain recently adopted many of the ideas. However, questions persist over long-term monitoring and enforcement. Meanwhile, other parts of fast-growing El Paso County are not bound by any pledges made by Colorado Springs and Fountain.

The strategic plan developed by the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force calls for all of the cities and counties to revisit the issue by 2010 with a goal to pass the new protections. The task force also recommends the creation of a new governmental entity, the Fountain Creek Watershed District, to oversee creek improvements, including adoption of the new rules. Pueblo city stormwater chief Dennis Maroney said he considers the Corps' general recommendations among the most valuable information to arise from the agency's $3 million study of Fountain Creek...

The Colorado Springs area is the main target of the proposal because the Fountain Creek watershed is shaped like an ice cream cone with the bulk of the land and population lying in El Paso County. All of the water from the area then flows into Fountain Creek and into Pueblo. Still, to the south, Pueblo and Pueblo County governments say they are willing to also consider the tougher regulations as part of any basinwide initiative, and as a way to better protect other watersheds...

The Colorado Springs area is the main target of the proposal because the Fountain Creek watershed is shaped like an ice cream cone with the bulk of the land and population lying in El Paso County. All of the water from the area then flows into Fountain Creek and into Pueblo. Still, to the south, Pueblo and Pueblo County governments say they are willing to also consider the tougher regulations as part of any basinwide initiative, and as a way to better protect other watersheds...

A summary of the Army Corps of Engineers' general recommendations for Fountain Creek:

1. Require developers to set aside more open space.2. Rehabilitate riparian areas where necessary.
3. Create additional wetlands.
4. Limit sediment runoff from construction.
5. Adopt low-impact development standards.
6. Limit flood flows to pre-development (historic) levels.
7. Limit sediment flows to pre-development (historic) levels.
8. Develop better models for sediment measurement.
9. Require analysis of the impact of new development on two-year storms.
10. Devise ways for better basinwide collaboration.
11. Ensure compliance through project tracking, inspection and routine maintenance.
12. Enlist more expertise in design and inspections of projects.
13. Update FEMA flood plain maps.
14. Re-certify Fountain Creek levees.
15. Emphasize channel stability on any improvement projects for Fountain Creek and tributaries.
16. Use best practices on any creek improvement projects.
17. Create a Fountain Creek Watershed Entity to oversee Creek fix-up.

Increased Fountain Creek streamflows is one of the issues at the heart of Pueblo County's careful consideration of the proposed Southern Delivery System. Here's a look at problems along the creek, from Chris Woodka writing in the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Base flows in Fountain Creek have increased from almost nothing in the 1970s, to a river that most days flows freely because of effluent releases upstream. As Colorado Springs grew in the 1980s and '90s, more transmountain return flows were exchanged down Fountain Creek. During the 40-year life of the SDS project, Colorado Springs return flows are expected to double...

At a meeting last month, engineers working on SDS characterized the deposits left by daily flows as being about as thick as a piece of paper every day at the Eighth Street Bridge. They said the big chunks of sediment that are clogging up the channel through Pueblo are the result of infrequent flood events that move the majority of sediment downstream.

"I don't think I believe that," Alt said. "I don't have the money to hire some big engineering firm to give me the figures I want to hear." Looking at Fountain Creek tells him a different story. The creek isn't where it was before the 1999 flood. It's moved a little to the east here, a little to the west there, and that's a natural occurrence. The same flood that cut away parts of his cousin's farm dumped sand and debris onto Alt's farm, making both places useless unless the owners were willing to invest even more - which they weren't. On a clear November day, there were big piles of sand sitting in the middle of the creek. They might grow or shrink, move to one side or another, but they form every day. The Fountain is also undercutting the bank, Alt pointed out, looking at some moist chunks of clay freshly toppled from what once was, not too many years ago, the best hay field on his father's farm.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
5:51:06 PM    

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Government Executive has a bit of speculation at to the leader of Interior under President Obama. They write:

President-elect Barack Obama's choice for Interior secretary might come down to two Western House Democrats: a three-term Hispanic lawmaker and a five-term Blue Dog backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva appears to be the leading contender, but California Rep. Mike Thompson has Pelosi in his corner...

Thompson has the backing of hunting and fishing groups, while Grijalva is favored by environmental groups. Former two-term Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber -- another finalist to head Interior -- told the Associated Press this week he would bet on Grijalva. Several other sources following the Obama transition team's deliberations also cite Grijalva -- who chairs the House Natural Resources National Parks Subcommittee -- as the likely favorite.But the importance that the Interior Department holds for Western governors, as well as his executive experience, makes Kitzhaber a sleeper pick.A fourth finalist -- Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash. -- has also been mentioned in a long list of potential nominees to be Energy secretary.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Politico (Erika Lovley) writes:

Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, is the newest name in the mix for interior secretary. A lawyer, he is a member of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. A source close to the President-elect Barack Obama's transition says several environmental groups have contacted environmental transition head Carol Browner, urging her to consider Gover for the top Interior Department post.

Gover is a former partner in the law firm Steptoe & Johnson and had been assistant interior secretary for Indian affairs under Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in the Clinton administration...

But at least one environmental expert says that Gover may be too low-profile to lead the department. Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who has been a frontrunner for the post, has already asked Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to suspend what the congressman called the department's "deeply-flawed" environmental impact review of the area...

Eileen Maxwell, a spokeswoman for Gover, said he has not heard from the transition team and doesn't expect to.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News
5:29:18 PM    

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Here's an update on the DCWRA Ambassador Program. The program -- which exist to train informed water users -- is funded and organized by the Douglas County Water Resource Authority (DCWRA), Douglas County government, the Douglas County School District and Water Awareness and Responsibility Program (WARP, Inc.), according to Stacie Sneider writing for From the article:

In the DCWRA Ambassador Program, motivated high school students become water Ambassadors and will ultimately impart what they've learned to elementary students in their feeder areas. Once a high school student becomes an Ambassador, they will lead fourth-grade students in a series of activities including assemblies, classroom presentations, and hands-on water-specific experiments and exercises.

Representatives from WARP Inc. will coach participating high school students through a series of "train-the-trainer" sessions. "Our goal is to build future leaders who have a solid understanding of how important water and conservation are to the communities in which they live," said Stacie Sneider, WARP Director. WARP Inc. does this by employing the latest technology to teach these concepts in fun and engaging ways. In addition, students will learn about public speaking and be given the tools and support to present what they've learned to the elementary students. "We all know, elementary kids think teens are rock stars. Imagine how much fun it will be for the young kids to learn about water and conservation from the teenagers", said Sneider.

Thanks to Coyote Gulch reader MS for the link.

Category: Colorado Water
5:21:48 PM    

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From the Delta County Independent (Kathy Browning): "Sewer rates in Crawford will be raised $4 a month beginning in 2009. Crawford Town Clerk Margaret Pearce said the town's auditor Pete Blair agreed with the need to raise rates. Mayor Jim Crook said the sewer fund was in the red due to additional costs incurred when lining the sewer ponds. The estimated deficit for 2008 in the Sewer Fund is $23,579. The final proposed deficit by the end of 2009 is estimated to be $15,502. Pearce said by raising the rates by $4 a month, which would bring the monthly water and sewer bill to $40, most of that deficit will be erased in 2009. The raise will be continued beyond 2009 to pay for expenses and to build up some reserve."

Category: Colorado Water
6:27:32 AM    

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From the Summit Daily News (Robert Allen): "Breckenridge water users may notice higher bills after Jan. 1, as the town plans to make its first rate increase in two years. The base user fees for residential users are to change from $27.14 to $29.74 per billing cycle for each single-family equivalent. The excess-use charge -- for each 1,000 gallons exceeding 12,000 gallons -- is to increase from $2.70 to $2.96. Non-residential and mixed-use fees are to increase as well...Council is expected to approve the new water rates at the Dec. 9 meeting, which will be its final meeting of 2008 -- barring unforeseen circumstances."

Category: Colorado Water
6:13:57 AM    

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