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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Sunday, January 4, 2009

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We're doing network maintenance today. The URL may be unavailable at times. You can read Coyote Gulch at

8:18:26 AM    

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Be sure to set aside some time February 13th to view Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk at the Imax theatre at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. From the website:

Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk combines exhilarating river-rafting action on America's most iconic river. This engaging story shows how ordinary people can make a difference for our parched planet - one that is running out of clean, fresh water so fast that the U.N. estimates that 40% of the world could face life-threatening shortages by the year 2050.

Taking audiences on this illuminating rafting trip are two environmental heroes: world-renowned river advocate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and author/anthropologist/explorer Wade Davis, accompanied by their daughters - Kick Kennedy and Tara Davis. They are guided by Shana Watahomigie, a member of the Havasupai tribe and the first Native American to become a National Park Ranger and river guide. A stirring score featuring songs and music from the Grammy Award winning Dave Matthews Band sets the mood for this adventure that explores the spiritual, artistic, and life-sustaining powers of water - and makes crystal clear that each of us must do our part to better manage this crucial resource for the future.

You can view the trailer at the film's promotional website.

Category: Climate Change News
7:16:10 AM    

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The EPA's inspector general has determined that the agency erred in its analysis of the threats from perchlorate, according to a report from Sarah Gilman writing on the GOAT. From the article:

The Environmental Protection Agency apparently erred in its analysis of the potential human health impacts of perchlorate, according to a draft report by the agency's inspector general...

The chemical acts in concert with a handful of other chemicals common in foods to inhibit the uptake of the nutrient iodide. That's particularly harmful for pregnant or nursing women because it can result in "subtle mental deficiencies" in their children. But instead of analyzing the cumulative effects of those chemicals, the EPA analyzed perchlorate in isolation, the report says, thereby painting an inaccurate picture of a complex public health problem.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:08:50 AM    

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From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Mike Saccone): "Commercial oil shale production might be years away, but Republican state lawmakers plan to craft some general policies this year that could set the stage for developing the abundant fossil fuel. Sen.-elect Al White, R-Hayden, said he plans to carry legislation to start a rule-making process governing how and where oil shale can be developed in Colorado. 'The bill will establish a task force whose job it is to do a rule making for oil shale extraction and what parameters need to surround oil shale when it becomes commercially viable,' he said."

More from the article:

Rep. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, has announced he will run a bill to "incentivize" commercial oil shale production by cutting the state's severance tax on the fuel. "(It's) an incentive by discounting the oil shale severance taxes through the year 2020 if any company will start to develop a commercial program by 2012," Lundberg said...

Glenn Vawter, executive director of the National Oil Shale Association, said it is good to see lawmakers gearing up for that future. "I think any encouragement at the state is helpful," Vawter said. "I think right now with oil prices the way they are ... there's a lot of people thinking, Utah is a better place to do business, shall we say."

Even if the governor signs the bills into law, commercial oil shale could face steep opposition at the federal level thanks to President-elect Barack Obama's appointment of Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., as the head of the Interior Department. Salazar, whose agency will oversee and issue permits for energy development on federal lands, has announced his opposition to a series of proposed federal rules governing oil shale extraction. "If we are to succeed in developing oil shale responsibly, which I support, we need to establish an orderly process for development that protects Colorado's communities, protects our water and helps us avoid the busts that have, in the past, set us back," Salazar said in a November statement.

White acknowledged some might see his and others' efforts as premature, but it is better to be proactive rather than reactive after a boom.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News
6:57:48 AM    

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Ray Petros, consultant for Pueblo County, has proposed a lake level management program as part of the permit for Colorado Springs' proposed Southern Delivery System, according to a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The program would establish target levels for lakes in the same way that flow programs have established guidelines for the Arkansas River, both above Lake Pueblo and through Downtown Pueblo, where a whitewater park has been built. "I suggested it because I didn't see any consideration for it in the environmental impact statement," Petros said. "There has to be some flexibility in when you run the water up to the terminal storage reservoir."

Petros brought up the subject during a hearing before Pueblo County commissioners on SDS last week. He asked Colorado Springs officials whether they would be willing to explore an idea to balance levels between a proposed 30,000 acre-foot reservoir on Upper Williams Creek and Lake Pueblo, which is about 10 times as large...

Colorado Springs maintains the EIS recently completed by the Bureau of Reclamation shows its SDS activities would not draw down Lake Pueblo below the 4,800-foot elevation, which is just above the lower limits of boat ramps. A simulation by Colorado Springs engineers shows the impact of SDS over the historic conditions of the last 20 years could, on occasion, draw down the lake levels 20 feet more in the summer. But even in an extremely dry year like 2002, levels in the active conservation pool would remain above the boat ramps, said Keith Riley, a Colorado Springs engineer working on SDS...

Colorado Springs attorney David Robbins claimed agricultural drawdowns, rather than municipal withdrawals, cause more fluctuation in Lake Pueblo. While agricultural water has been more dominant in Lake Pueblo since it began filling in 1975, the accounts in the lake through both Fry-Ark accounts and excess-capacity contracts are overwhelmingly municipal. About 70 percent of the dedicated space in the Fry-Ark accounts is for cities. Winter water is stored in Lake Pueblo for irrigation and is typically released late in the season to finish crops, at the same time warmer temperatures are drawing more to the lake. "I can understand what (Robbins) was saying," Petros said. "Municipalities are more likely to retain water in storage or carry it forward into dry years." However, urban demands for water are highest in midsummer, typically coinciding with the end of spring runoff, as customers begin watering lawns. At that time, farmers usually are relying on elevated natural flows in the river to satisfy water rights...

Petros asked whether recreation at the new lake in El Paso County or at Pueblo would be a priority for future water managers. In other years, having another 30,000 acre-feet of storage could help users move water around to the advantage of all, Petros said. For instance, with Lake Pueblo nearly full last spring, it took cooperation by Reclamation, the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the large municipal users and farmers in the basin to keep water moving in and out of Lake Pueblo to avoid spilling any of the water stored in accounts. In that case, moving some of the water uphill to the SDS system might be a benefit to all concerned. Petros said it's not possible to anticipate every situation, just as it has been hard to maintain flows in the Arkansas River. He said other valley reservoirs in the Fry-Ark system - Turquoise and Twin Lakes - as well as potential downstream storage could be tied into some sort of plan.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:45:40 AM    

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