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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Sunday, December 21, 2008

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Here's a look at the construction impacts in Pueblo County due to Colorado Springs' proposed Southern Delivery System, from Chris Woodka writing in the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The construction of a water pipeline through Pueblo West would mean hundreds of extra trips daily on roads not meant to handle the traffic. The issue is addressed in Pueblo County's staff comments on an application for the Southern Delivery System, a $1.1 billion pipeline project that would cut through about 14 miles in Lake Pueblo State Park, Pueblo West and Walker Ranches west of Interstate 25 in Pueblo County. Colorado Springs anticipates 40 to 400 trips daily by either large trucks hauling in lengths of pipe, trucks bringing in or removing fill material, and workers' vehicles. "We think 400 would be the exception (coming) during peak staffing times at the pump station and north outlet works," said Dan Higgins of Colorado Springs Utilities. On a typical day of construction, there would be about 80 to 100 trips, Higgins said...

At the dam [Pueblo], crews of up to 100 workers per day would be working at one or both of the two projects over a two-year period, Higgins said. Additional traffic would come from trucks delivering supplies to build either the pump station or the north outlet works. About 200 feet of 5-foot-diameter pipe would be laid each day over the period of one year, Higgins said. A trench about 12 to 15 feet deep would be dug ahead of the pipe-laying operation...

A staff memo from Pueblo County Public Works Director Greg Severance anticipates problems from the operation. "Most of the roadways in this area are not constructed to handle this type or level of use and would be expected to be adversely affected," Severance wrote. Some of the roads already are scheduled for upgrades...

In addition to the traffic, some roads will have to be closed and cut through during pipeline construction. On major roads like U.S. 50 and Industrial Boulevard, a tunneling device will be used to cut a channel under the road. Colorado Springs officials have pledged to assume all costs associated with the construction project, and Higgins said they will work with the county in dealing with road problems. "That's definitely the case," Higgins said. "We're working with the county on which roads we'd be on, and we're fine-tuning the list."

The Pueblo Chieftain caught up with Gary Walker who ranches along the route of the preferred alternative for SDS. Here's a report from Chris Woodka:

Rancher Gary Walker said Friday he would fight condemnation if he cannot reach agreement with Colorado Springs over a plan to cross Walker Ranches in construction of the Southern Delivery System pipeline. "I want them to tell me exactly what they intend to do and put it in writing," Walker said. The proposed pipeline route would cross about 7 miles of Walker Ranches, located in northern Pueblo County west of Interstate 25. Walker outlined his fears of increased erosion, disruption of cattle operations and inadequate revegetation at a Pueblo County Commissioners hearing on a permit for SDS last week.

After his emotional presentation at the meeting, he said most Colorado Springs officials gave him the cold shoulder in the hallway of the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center and neglected to contact him this week, as they had indicated they would after an earlier meeting. Walker said he is talking with an attorney who specializes in fighting condemnation.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:24:14 AM    

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From the Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl): "The Colorado Water Conservation Board signed off on loans to the Yuma County Water Authority Public Improvement District and the Republican River Water Conservation District, earlier this week. CWCB's loan to the Yuma County Water Authority PID is for $9.5 million, which will be used toward the total $20 million purchase of senior surface water rights from the Colorado board of the Pioneer Irrigation District and owners of the Laird Ditch. CWCB's loan to the RRWCD is for $4.545 million, which will go toward the total of $5 million to the YCWA PID for a 20-year lease on the senior surface water rights. The YCWA PID will put the lease money toward the $20 million buyout. The CWCB Board approved both loans last month, with final approval and signing off on the loans coming earlier this week. Each loan is at 2.25 percent interest over 20 years."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:02:42 AM    

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From the Environment News Service (J.R. Pegg): "More than four years after two independent expert panels urged the Bush administration and Congress to immediately overhaul the nation's oceans policy, few of their recommendations have been implemented and the state of the oceans is deteriorating rapidly. Overfishing, pollution and climate change are wreaking havoc with ocean ecosystems and driving species into extinction, leaving scientists and advocates fearful for the future absent dramatic action to change course and desperate for leadership from President-elect Barack Obama. "We need a statement from the new administration that the United States is ready to bail out the oceans to protect marine biodiversity and related economic opportunity worldwide," said Michael Hirshfield, chief scientist and senior vice president of the North American arm of Oceana."

More from the article:

Hirshfield is hoping for "concrete action" early in the Obama administration, such as an executive order calling for a new oceans policy stating the nation's intent to manage the oceans for long-term sustainability, rather than short-term profits...

The latest statistics on fishing worldwide present a dour outlook, as industrial outfits have become devastatingly successful at plundering ocean species. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that more than 75 percent of the 600 fish species it monitors are fully exploited or depleted. A new peer-reviewed study published this month suggests the fish in large marine ecosystems are being caught at rates that are at least double the level considered sustainable. Fishing is decimating large iconic species such as tuna, swordfish, marlin and cod - some researchers estimate only 10 percent of all such large fish remain. "We are fishing down the food chain," said Jeremy Jackson, director of the Scripps Institution Oceanography's Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation...

There is a major gap in data about the state of U.S. fisheries, but what is known is worrisome - nearly half are below healthy levels and about a quarter are still being overfished. "The economic pressures to keep on fishing have overwhelmed common sense," said Dr. Jackson, who added that the lack of progress stems only from "greed and our inability to alter our behavior."

As the oceans are being depleted of key species, they are also suffering from continued and increasing pollution from human activities on land. A key concern is over-enrichment with nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, which degrade ecosystems and cause massive dead zones across broad areas of coastal waters. Researchers have identified more than 400 dead zones throughout the world, stretches of water that lack enough oxygen to support marine life. And the problem is actually "much more pervasive than inventories would suggest," said Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Boesch said new evidence suggests the metric for defining dead zones underestimates the harm to marine life and cautions that healing degraded marine ecosystems may be more difficult than originally thought. Researchers are finding that "the longer ecosystems are degraded, the harder they are to recover," he told reporters. This doesn't bode well for stalled recovery efforts in the Chesapeake Bay or the Gulf of Mexico, which annually suffers from a dead zone in excess of 7,500 square miles. Boesch lamented efforts to quell the huge dead zone, saying "very little has been done except more studies to see if the problem is real."[...]

Potentially overshadowing concerns about pollution and overfishing, however, is the sense of "increasing alarm" about climate change, said Jeff Short, Oceana's Pacific Science Director. The oceans absorb some one-third of the carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere, a process that is fundamentally changing the chemical balance needed for many marine species to survive. High carbon dioxide levels in the ocean are increasing the acidity of seawater, which in turn makes it harder for coral and other organisms to form their skeletons and shells. The atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are currently at about 385 parts per million, rising at some 2 to 2.5 ppm annually, and the increases are already being blamed for the loss of some coral reefs. Recent research estimates the world has lost nearly 20 percent of its original coral reefs since 1950. And when those levels hit 450 ppm - in about 25 years if current trends continue - "the tropical reefs will fall apart" and shellfish populations worldwide could dramatically decline...

Of further worry are the feedback effects created by the close connection between the state of the oceans and the climate. The increasing acidification of the oceans will reduce their ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Scientists predict acidification will occur most rapidly in the oceans near the poles, where signs of warming are already evident. An area of sea ice about a quarter the size of the United States has been lost since the 1950s and researchers with the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center this month concluded that warming in the Arctic is accelerating. The loss of sea ice in the Arctic is exposing more of the ocean to solar radiation, causing it to warm and prevent new ice from forming, potentially further accelerating climate change. "We are breaking the planet's thermostat," Short said.

Category: Climate Change News
7:49:05 AM    

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The articles about Ken Salazar leading the Department of Interior keep rolling in. Here's one perspective from the Eastern U.S., from the Asheville Citizen-Times. From the article:

When the name Ken Salazar comes up, most Americans would offer one response: Who?

For the record, he's a first-term Colorado senator, and he's President-elect Barack Obama's nominee to head the Interior Department. Also for the record, the current secretary is named Dirk Kempthorne. And yes, 95 percent of Americans would have to look that up. That's a shame, because Interior represents an important post with ramifications for all Americans. It's not a stretch to say it's even more important for the average Western North Carolinian...

Salazar's main drawback, from the WNC perspective, could be described as location, location, location. As a Westerner he is almost undoubtedly closer to the far different issues and needs of federal lands on the other side of the continent - grazing rights, water wars, etc. - than the issues here involving population pressures and pollution. We'll all need to make sure we get the attention we deserve...

Parks are more than a matter of heritage and natural beauty to Western North Carolinians; they're a huge economic driver. Tourism pumped nearly $2 billion into the area's economy in 2007, and a large chunk of that was directly connected to visitations to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway. The parks represent a proverbial golden goose for WNC, one that has to be protected. Both the Smokies and parkway have been victims of chronic underfunding for years. Some steps have been taken to address the shortfalls, and local groups such as Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Friends of the Smokies have tirelessly labored to fill the gap, but funding neglect takes time to rectify. The challenges of these economic times notwithstanding, that time may be at hand. Obama has said he's committed to giving the Park Service resources to match its operational and maintenance needs by 2016, the year of its 100th anniversary.

Craig Obey with the National Parks Conservation Association said, "Sen. Salazar has been a leader in the Senate on national park policy. We expect that, based on that history, he will be an excellent secretary of the interior. He has been an active champion of parks in a number of areas, including protection of the park service management policies."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:30:57 AM    

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From the Summit Daily News (Robert Allen): "Plans for the $34 million expansion of the Breckenridge Sanitation District's wastewater treatment plant at Farmer's Korner will commence as planned, with no expensive nitrification system needed. District manager Andy Carlberg said the Colorado Department of Health and Environment's analysis confirmed expectations that an additional treatment system wouldn't be needed. "They came back the way we thought they would come back -- which is good,[per thou] he said. "So we're going to save ourselves that expense." The nitrification system would have cost between an estimated $8 million to $15 million extra. One such system is in place at the district's Iowa Hill Water Reclamation Facility off Airport Road in Breckenridge. It further breaks down ammonia, which is known to affect the hatching and growth rates of fish. Ultimately, such a system likely will be needed in Farmer's Korner as well, but it shouldn't be for another 10 to 15 years, Carlberg has said."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:14:08 AM    

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