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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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

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From the Greeley Tribune: "A six-part series that breaks down and explains the Evans water fund begins tonight. A presentation on the fund will take place during the Evans City Council work session, which begins at 6 p.m. today at the Evans Community Complex, 1100 37th St. in Evans. It is slated to start after the council discusses its latest water conservation plan."

Category: Colorado Water
8:26:22 PM    

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Here's a recap of last week's annual meeting of the Colorado Water Congress, from Emily Underwood writing for the GOAT. From the article:

The mission of the Colorado Water Congress is to "promote the wise management and stewardship of the State's water resources for the benefit of Colorado's present and future generations." It would be hard to find a group of people with less consensus on the definition of "wise management."

In one of over 40 Powerpoint presentations given at the conference, Shell Oil spokesman Tracy Boyd looks rather eerie in the bluish light of his projector. 800 billion barrels of oil are recoverable from western oil shale, he says. Processing oil shale to make crude, which he says takes about 3 barrels of water for every 1 barrel of oil, is really just "speeding up Mother Nature."

Across the hall, lawyer Ken Wonstolen from the international firm Fulbright & Jaworski pronounces the copious amounts of toxic runoff produced in coalbed methane drilling a "gift" to the United States for the next 50-75 years. If the water is deemed "non-tributary" because of its depth, and if it can be successfully de-contaminated, this mined water will be an even bigger gift to the folks who treat and sell it.

Category: Colorado Water
8:17:19 PM    

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The High Country News takes up the call to protect wetlands and streams in their current issue:

The Rapanos v. United States case was supposed to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act. Property rights activists initially hailed the court's split ruling as a victory...

Today, however, almost no one is happy with the ruling. Environmental-ists say that Rapanos leaves thousands of once-protected streams, arroyos and wetlands without federal oversight. About 350 miles of streams were removed from federal control in a single six-month period, for instance, and enforcement of many anti-pollution cases was stopped in its tracks. Developers, meanwhile, have found the new guidelines to be even more cumbersome and time-consuming than the old ones were.

In other words, it's a mess. Though Congress is poised to intervene in an attempt to clean things up, that will likely only provoke a bigger battle over the Clean Water Act and its enforcement, especially when it comes to the ephemeral waters of the arid West.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
8:11:23 PM    

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From the Vail Daily (Dustin Racioppi): "The end-of-year goal set by County Commissioners last January for a new wastewater treatment plant in Red Cliff has come and gone. Now, county officials are pinning hopes on getting a cut of that elusive economic stimulus plan pitched by President Barack Obama. 'They've got to get it fixed,' said Tom Johnson, Eagle County's public works director. 'We're hoping to get stimulus for it. That's where the focus is today.'"

"The county stepped in last year to give support to the tiny town plagued by major problems. Its wastewater treatment plant can't handle the amount of water going in and therefore the water doesn't get fully treated. Because most of the county is downriver from Red Cliff, Johnson said there's an interest for the county to try and help. Plus, it would be easier for the county to get funding for major projects, Johnson added."

Category: Colorado Water
7:08:21 PM    

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From the Colorado Springs Gazette (John Schroyer): "House Bill 1129, by Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, would establish a pilot program to determine whether sophisticated rainwater collection systems can be a sustainable water source without infringing on downstream water rights of farmers and ranchers...

"'We have got to find another way to augment the loss of the ground water. Rainwater harvesting is a technique that we think might get us there,' Looper said. 'In Eastern El Paso County, where all the growth is, this is going to be massively important for us to continue to grow and develop.'

"Under Looper's bill, the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the State Engineer's Office would be authorized to construct 10 such experimental groundwater collection facilities across the state over the next decade. One of the most common methods, Looper said, is to build a large gutter collection network that funnels rainwater into an underground storage facility, commonly installed under residential suburbs. Seven other states have similar programs."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:01:33 PM    

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Here's an update on the plans for Fountain Creek on the west side of Colorado Springs, from R. Scott Rappold writing for the Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

A $3.6 million project to improve drainage on Fountain Creek on the city's west side and keep mine tailings from Gold Hill Mesa out of the water is in jeopardy, caught between competing visions for the creek. Should the creek be as natural as possible, capable of supporting a healthy fish population, or should it be an urban drainage channel, funneling water downstream as quickly as possible?

The local chapter of Trout Unlimited, a conservation group that works to restore waterways, last week issued a news release objecting to the project. The group had been working with the Stormwater Enterprise on its design.

The DOW and Trout Unlimited have asked the city to not grout the boulders in the rip-rap, keep the creek narrower, deeper with more curves and bends, and to remove from the plan some of the cross-creek barriers.

Sampley said he does not think the project could be secure without grouted rip-rap, because water could seep in and wash out the banks, allowing mine tailings to reach the water. He said Fountain Creek is not a natural environment now, having been moved over the years, so the city does not need to add more curves and oxbows.

"At some point we still have to make sure our design is going to be stable out there and prevent erosion," Sampley said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
5:50:07 PM    

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This is a big deal. The Army Corps of Engineers has announced plans for a supplemental draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project, according to a report from the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday it will prepare a supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Northern Integrated Supply Project and Glade Reservoir.

The controversial project, which would draw water from the Poudre River primarily during times of high springtime flows, requires additional environmental study in areas such as hydrology modeling, water quality, vegetation and aquatic resources, officials said.

The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District's report contradicts the EPA and the Fort Collins' comments on NISP, according to a report from the Northern Colorado Business Report. From the article:

The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District has released a study that contradicts conclusions reached by the city of Fort Collins and the Environmental Protection Agency regarding the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project...

The study by engineering firm Black & Veatch concluded that water quality and treatment issues raised by the city and the EPA "are not significant and can be easily addressed."

Black & Veatch looked at three issues raised by the city and EPA:

- That NISP would increase total organic carbon levels in Horsetooth Reservoir that would require the city to invest $50 million to $90 million in new infrastructure and increase operational costs to treat water by $3 million annually. The study concluded that any increase in TOC in the reservoir would be "very small" and the suggested infrastructure improvements would not be required.

- That NISP would cause lower flows in the Poudre River that would require the city to spend $75 million to $125 million in upgrades to its wastewater treatment plants. The study concludes that NISP will have "no impact" on existing or future infrastructure or operating requirements for the city's wastewater plants.

- That contaminated groundwater near the proposed Glade Reservoir could possibly co-mingle with Glade water and be delivered to Horsetooth Reservoir or the Poudre River. The study concludes that the concentration of trichloroethylene in the groundwater is so low that "even without any collection and treatment system, the TCE levels in either Glade or Horsetooth reservoirs would be undetectable."

Eric Wilkinson, general manager of the water district, said the study affirms the district's stance that the NISP project is needed and will not cause water treatment and water quality problems.

Copies of the Black & Veatch study summaries and other related information is available on the NISP Web site at on the Water Quality Information page.

More coverage of Northern's report from Black & Veatch, from the Greeley Tribune. From the article:

Eric Wilkinson, general manager of the district, said the study, conducted by Black & Veatch, a nationally known engineering firm, concludes that the issues are not significant and can be easily addressed...

Wilkinson, in a press release from the district, said the 15 participants in the project authorized the study to cooperate with and help expedite the on-going Environmental Impact Statement process being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The study has been provided to the Corps, the EPA, Colorado Department of Health and Environment and other interested parties.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
5:21:28 PM    

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From the Pueblo Chieftain (Robert Boczkiewicz): "Aurora plans to renew its effort to seek dismissal of a lawsuit that claims a federal contract permitting the city to store water in Lake Pueblo is illegal. Aurora stated it intends to again assert that the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and a group of valley landowners do not have standing to challenge the contract. The city stated its intention in a new filing in U.S. District Court against the lawsuit by the district and the landowner group that was filed last year."


Aurora's new filing seeks a judge's permission to take a deposition "of the person most knowledgeable of the facts and circumstances" of the district's alleged injuries and permission to depose the four landowners. "There are pertinent facts bearing upon the question of jurisdiction in this case that are in dispute," the city said. Lower Arkansas' attorney, Peter Nichols of Denver, said he hasn't had an opportunity to review Aurora's request or discuss it with his client, "so it would be premature for me to comment."

Arkansas Valley Native LLC's attorney, Sarah Klahn of Denver, said her client will file a response in opposition to Aurora's motion. "As we only received Aurora's motion at 5:30 on Monday (evening), we are still evaluating the specific arguments to be made."

The judge in the case in September denied the requests of Reclamation and Aurora to dismiss the lawsuit on their claim of lack of standing. The city's new filing asserts the plaintiffs, now at this later point in the litigation, "must set forth specific evidence in order to establish standing."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:49:46 AM    

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