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, February 1, 2009

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If you're interested in the latest information on climate change CSU is offering a series of workshops and lectures next week, according to a report from the Loveland Reporter-Herald. From the article:

Ever wonder how to shrink your carbon footprint? Ever ponder the connections between climate change and art? Been wondering how President Barack Obama is doing on the climate front? Thirty speakers will discuss these and other issues during two days of talks at Colorado State University next week. Sessions are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, with atmospheric science professor Scott Denning de-livering the keynote speech at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Lory Student Center on campus...

ON THE NET: For more information, go to

Category: Climate Change News
8:28:24 AM    

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Consultants working for Loveland have narrowed their list of possible new raw water reservoir sites to seven, according to a report from Cara O'Brien writing for the Loveland Reporter-Herald. From the article:

It is estimated the city of Loveland will need a new reservoir to serve residents by 2030 or 2035, and the city is finding few site options. But a study recently completed by BluePoint Design Corp. looked in-depth at seven possibilities -- with an additional variation on one of those sites -- including two promising areas west of town...

The city likely will focus on either the Maitland South site or the Cedar Cove site, based on the relatively low expected cost per acre-foot of water storage. The Maitland site currently does have a home and other buildings on-site, which would be covered by water if the site became a reservoir. "The owners of the Maitland and Cedar Cove sites received letters indicating those locations may be feasible for future consideration," said Larry Howard, a senior civil engineer for the city of Loveland Department of Water and Power.

Click through for a complete list along with the statistics for each of the seven sites.

Category: Colorado Water
8:22:22 AM    

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From the Longmont Times-Call (Joshua Buck): "...the St. Vrain watershed is at 100 percent of the 30-year average...

"The snow in the course, 2 miles above the Longs Peak Trailhead, also holds 6.6 inches of total water -- 1 inch more than at this time last year.

"Conservationists are interested in both the depth and weight of the snow, [Don Graffis soil conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service] said. Because snow in different areas has different density, the measurements are taken in a 'V' pattern in 25-foot increments at precise locations used since 1953, Graffis said...

"The weight of the snow is divided by the depth to determine the water content. Snows in late spring typically hold more water than in early or mid-winter, he added. In addition to Friday's totals, the snow-measuring duo also determined recently that three other sites in Boulder County are at 110 percent of the 30-year average."

Category: Colorado Water
8:14:59 AM    

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Colorado Springs and the proposed Southern Delivery System are walking a tightrope between satisfying Pueblo County's requirements under the county's 1041 regulations and developing the necessary relationships and engineering for their backup plan through Fremont County should Pueblo create too many obstacles to the project. Here's a report from Debbie Bell writing for the Cañon City Daily Record. From the article:

Believing its chance of success in Pueblo is only 50 percent, Colorado Springs Utilities is wholeheartedly pursuing its alternative choice of Fremont County to build the mammoth $1.1 billion Southern Delivery System. About a dozen CSU team members hosted a community open house Thursday evening at the Florence Municipal Building to explain the project and answer citizens' questions. Those employees manned various stations to explain the project using poster-sized artist renderings, maps and drawings.

Colorado Springs, Security and Fountain are partnering to seek permission to construct a water intake, three pump stations and 17 miles of 66-inch diameter pipeline in Fremont County to transmit up to 78 million gallons of water each day from the Arkansas River. The proposed intake site is just west of the Colo. 115 bridge over the river. Because the permit process is a long and arduous one, CSU is working in Pueblo and Fremont County simultaneously to obtain the necessary approvals, although it prefers to draw water from the Pueblo Reservoir and move it north through Pueblo County...

[John Fredell SDS project director] said CSU hosted the gathering to provide information to everyone interested in the project. He explained potential benefits of the project including a renewed Florence River Park, partnerships with Penrose Water District and Beaver Park Water for water transmission, and considerable economic impact. CSU also has pledged to contract with local businesses for construction and supplies...

Water Commissioner Charlie Judge, Division of Water Resources, would welcome the proposed improvements on the Lester-Atteberry diversion and ditch, which feeds several ponds to the east of Colo. 115 north of the river. "Given the conditions of the current ditch out there," Judge said, "I would love to see it improved." Judge said minimum water flows of 190 cubic feet per second would be maintained at all times. He confirmed Fredell's statement that CSU's water rights on the Arkansas River are junior to other water rights there...

Colorado Springs Utilities will present its case for a Special Review Use permit during a Fremont County Commissioners public hearing at 10 a.m. Feb. 10. The county Planning Commission voted 5-2 on Jan. 6 to recommend denial of the permit.

More on the benefits to Fremont County from SDS, from Debbie Bell writing for the Cañon City Daily Record:

Expanded wetlands, new amenities and revitalized native vegetation could reinvigorate the Florence River Park if the Southern Delivery System is built in Fremont County. Representatives of Colorado Springs Utilities conducted a media tour Thursday afternoon at the park to explain revitalization plans and possibilities. "We will make improvements to the park," said Bruce Spiller, SDS Program Manager. "Every place we work, we leave it equal to or better than we find it. This park is going to work in concert with this diversion."

SDS would construct a new diversion just across the Arkansas River from the park, requiring other improvements to ensure appropriate water flows throughout the year regardless of water levels. A screen near the intake would separate fish, which would move back to the river in a return canal. Screens also would separate sedimentation for removal by truck. Because the diversion could not change the river upstream, water would be routed around the park during peak flows. "With the route south of the river, we will make modifications and improvements to the park for compatibility," Spiller said. A boat chute through the diversion would allow kayaks, rafts and other watercraft a safe route. A boat launch and recovery ramp just upstream, in the northwest corner of the park, would allow safe exit of the river, as well. The proposed park improvements emphasize ecological, recreational and educational benefits. Improved aquatic habitat would mean enhanced fishing, while developed trails and interpretive signage would abound throughout the park. CSU also would work to eradicate non-native plant species, such as tamarisk and Russian olive trees, to allow the re-growth of native vegetation. Workers would remove trash and clean out water channels to allow for continual water flows, naturally removing the algae that now is prevalent in places...

[Carolyn J. Browning, Associate Scientist with CH2M Hill of Englewood] said the natural habitat would attract additional wildlife like more blue herons, owls and eagles. "We will replenish all of these wetlands with new water," Browning said. "Willows and cattails will thrive."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:04:29 AM    

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Here's an opinion piece in favor of the new rules for oil and gas exploration and development approved late last year by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, from Kathleen Curry writing in the Denver Post. Read the whole thing. Here's an excerpt:

Resource extraction -- including oil and gas drilling -- is part of Colorado's history. We are a better state for having the abundant wealth that lies beneath the ground and for the industry that creates thousands of good jobs. We are also a better state for our breathtaking vistas and quality of life.

That's why I support new oil and gas rules providing greater natural-resource protections while also allowing the state's vital drilling industry to thrive. The rules strike an important balance that will protect our public health, wildlife and environment while encouraging responsible industry growth...

The new protections are reasonable, responsible and balanced. They address drinking-water protection, and they minimize odors and protect air quality. Additionally, they require limited disclosure of chemicals used so that state agencies can protect public health. And importantly, the new rules protect surface owners' rights.

Unfortunately, some are resisting these critical updates and misrepresenting the rules and their potential benefits. The new rules have not taken effect yet. The thousands of existing drilling permits and 37,000 active well-heads are not and will not be subject to the new rules.

What is impacting the oil and gas industry -- like every other sector -- is the economic crisis. Commodity prices have plummeted. Credit lines are frozen. And Colorado lacks sufficient pipeline capacity to move our natural-gas resources to market.

Even industry insiders acknowledge the rhetoric over the new protections is overblown. A few weeks ago, a Chevron spokesperson said "it would be false" to blame the proposed regulations for the current industry slowdown here.

In fact, Colorado is one of the most industry-friendly states due to its low tax rate. We have the lowest effective taxes on oil and natural gas (6.2 percent) compared to our neighbors, Wyoming (15.9 percent), New Mexico (15 percent), Montana (10.4 percent), and Utah (9.9 percent).

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Climate Change News
7:27:33 AM    

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Here's an update on the Colorado Water Conservation Board's efforts to accurately gauge consumption across the state while pushing conservation measures, from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

While the state's largest cities - Denver, Aurora and Colorado Springs - have adopted plans to save water using conservation, most of the state's communities have not shared their intentions with the CWCB, said Veva DeHeza, section chief for drought planning. The plans that are in place look at mostly voluntary measures for residential users only and could be more aggressive, she said. "We can't keep using SWSI I," DeHeza told the board. "We have to to an accurate picture of what's going on out there." The savings could be huge.

[The Statewide Water Supply Initiative] projected Colorado's total water demands - municipal, industrial and agricultural - at 1.7 million acre-feet by the year 2030, with a shortfall of 18 percent to meet municipal needs. Without a change in the way the state does its water business, most of that need would be met by agricultural dry-ups.

Conservation measures already in place should shave 200,000 acre-feet, or 11 percent, off the projected needs by 2030. The potential of realizing up to to 40 percent savings could go a long way toward meeting even greater demands by 2050, when the state's population is expected to double its current size, DeHeza said. Conservation alone can't meet the entire gap, but would reduce the need for transfers from agriculture to municipal uses...

A list of conservation measures contains everything from rebates for low-flow toilets, shower heads or washing machines to turf replacement. Block pricing to discourage excessive irrigation is suggested. Aggressive leak detection is a possibility. Audits of water use are recommended. The steps are not drastic and within the means of most cities to take at relatively little cost, DeHeza said...

Conservation plans largely focus on education programs aimed at residential customers asking them to make smart choices in water conservation. DeHeza said more active conservation programs could realize gains of 20, 30 or 40 percent savings in per capita water use.

Droughts don't hurt either. After the 2002 drought, most communities across the state have reported lower per capita water use as consumers became more aware of wasteful habits. Colorado Springs adopted steeper rate structures and Aurora retained drought-era restrictions on outdoor watering. Overall, the Arkansas River basin showed a drop of 12 percent from 2000 to 2005 in per capita use. The South Platte dropped 13 percent. Results in other basins were erratic, partly because only about 25 percent of municipalities were able to provide accurate baseline data, Colorado does not have the same level as planning for water conservation as other states in the West, DeHeza said...

Utah has mandated conservation goals for municipalities. In Arizona, Phoenix has a mandated plan for reducing the number of gallons consumed per capita. California and Washington require municipalities to have conservation plans.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:20:24 AM    

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Here are a few excerpts from a recent interview with Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, from the Denver Post:

The Post: Tell us about your plans to replicate Great Outdoors Colorado on a national level.

Salazar: I think the magic of Great Outdoors Colorado is that it created a purse of money to avoid the problem that most governments encounter by trying to protect lands or special places along rivers like as they often do using eminent domain.

What we did with GOCO is incentivized great things to happen in Colorado. Colorado Springs will never grow together with Denver because of the Greenland Ranch. The rivers of our state, the Platte River, the Rio Grande, the Cache la Poudre, the Colorado River through Grand Junction, the Gunnison. We all have these river restoration efforts that happened because there was a pot of money there that incentivized good things to happen in rivers.

Some may say what is it that the federal government may be able to do? Well, through the land and water conservation fund, which frankly has not been funded for a very long time, we might be able to create the kinds of monetary incentives to do those things in areas where we know that most of our species frankly depend on (it) for their survival.

And you can do it in a way where I think you can address both the values of economic development as well as the values of environmental restoration.

When you look at Denver and what we've done here on the South Platte River ... now when I go down to the South Platte, I go through the Central Platte Valley, you see the economic renaissance that has happened because we as a city here decided to turn our faces to the river and restore it. We stopped looking at that river as a wasteland and a dumping place and at the same time we have developed that economic renaissance in the South Platte and for those who share the South Platte. I mean the legacy project goes all the way to Adams County now.

You have also seen huge benefits to the environment, including native vegetation, including native species that inhabit the area, the bald eagle. I mean lots of things that are going on.

So I think that concept is there, the pieces of how exactly we will do it I don't know. It may end up part of what we do with the royalty reform. When John F. Kennedy described his vision of the land and water conservation fund, he described it as a $900 million year vision and felt that revenue streams coming from the royalties and oil and gas development and the offshore would essentially fund the land and water conservation fund.

Well, it's not been funded. There's money that's allocated from the Treasury every year for funding the Land & Water Conservation fund but yet it goes to other places and so what ends up happening is by the time it gets to congressional level and appropriation there's a big fight and then you have had a fight for the last four years in restoring money into LWCF, but we end up with $50 million, $60 million a year. It may be as we go through royalty reform, we'll figure out a way of fully funding the Land and Water Conservation fund. I don't know that we'll be able to get there, but I think that as we do that, one of the things that I will ask the assistant secretary for parks and wildlife to undertake is the opportunities to do the kind of thing here in Colorado with the money that comes in.

Category: Colorado Water
7:07:55 AM    

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