CWCB: Water availability task force meeting February 25th

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board:

The next Water Availability Task Force meeting will be held on February 25, from 1-3:30p at the Colorado Division of Wildlife Headquarters. The agenda will be posted on the CWCB website as soon as possible. Past meeting presentations and other materials can also be found at the CWCB website.

Sun powered device converts CO2 to methane

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Here’s a report about a new device from researchers at Penn State that uses a wider spectrum of light to convert CO2 to methane (and other organic compounds), from Jon Evans writing for New Scientist. From the article:

Although other research groups have developed methods for converting carbon dioxide into organic compounds like methane, often using titanium-dioxide nanoparticles as catalysts, they have needed ultraviolet light to power the reactions. The researchers’ breakthrough has been to develop a method that works with the wider range of visible frequencies within sunlight…

The team found it could enhance the catalytic abilities of titanium dioxide by forming it into nanotubes each around 135 nanometres wide and 40 microns long to increase surface area. Coating the nanotubes with catalytic copper and platinum particles also boosted their activity. The researchers housed a 2-centimetre-square section of material bristling with the tubes inside a metal chamber with a quartz window. They then pumped in a mixture of carbon dioxide and water vapour and placed it in sunlight for three hours. The energy provided by the sunlight transformed the carbon dioxide and water vapour into methane and related organic compounds, such as ethane and propane, at rates as high as 160 microlitres an hour per gram of nanotubes. This is 20 times higher than published results achieved using any previous method, but still too low to be immediately practical.

If the reaction is halted early the device produces a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen known as syngas, which can be converted into diesel.

Fountain Creek: Some things are looking up along and in the creek

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Here’s a look at some positive news about the management of the Fountain Creek Watershed, from a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

On Wednesday, the Lower Ark board heard presentations from Corridor Master Plan consultant Kevin Shanks and the Colorado State University-Pueblo team studying water quality on Fountain Creek. Shanks is heading up a team under a two-year, $600,000 joint project of Colorado Springs and the Lower Ark district. So far, that plan has developed four projects along the creek that will begin to address stretches of the creek that are out of shape by restoring natural curves and wetlands. At the same time, the projects will decrease the erosion that daily dumps tons of sediment into the creek. “What are we going to do to improve Fountain Creek? We’re going to emulate nature wherever possible. It’s that simple,” Shanks said. He said about 60 percent of Fountain Creek already is in excellent shape, but the rest needs work…

Shanks explained the purpose of each project:

The EcoFit Center is a way of fighting “apathy” about Fountain Creek for the average person in Colorado Springs. Families using the El Pomar recreation facilities would gravitate to the creek activities. Fitness grants, stormwater enterprise funds and foundation grants could be used.

Clear Springs Ranch is on the list of possible projects under the stimulus bill and is listed among commitments to Pueblo County if the Southern Delivery System is built from Pueblo Dam.

The Pueblo Springs project is supported by the Fountain Creek Foundation and could receive support from the developer of the proposed housing and commercial center north of Pueblo, although the time frame has become less certain.

The Confluence Park is generating increasing interest with the city of Pueblo and East Side groups. It would use sediment in the creek to build a park that could replace aging unsightly levees on the Lower East Side.

“You guys should pat yourselves on the back,” Shanks told the Lower Ark board. “Colorado Springs Utilities is looking at putting the whole thing (Clear Springs Ranch) into a conservation easement. That’s something that wouldn’t have happened 12-14 months ago.”

The CSU-Pueblo study of Fountain Creek has identified both sources and non-point areas of selenium loading on Fountain Creek, said Jason Turner, a graduate student who has taken the lead on that portion of the study. The study, started three years ago, also is looking at other metals, E. coli bacteria sources and other water quality issues on Fountain Creek. “We’re moving into the next phase: what is it doing? We’ll be testing invertebrates and fish,” Turner said. “We’re moving past the water analysis and into the ecosystem analysis.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.