Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project: Opponents form Chaffee Citizens for Sustainablility, Inc.

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Salida Citizen: “Citing the need to develop sustainable solutions for the increasing demands on county natural resources, a group of local citizens announced today the formation of the Chaffee Citizens for Sustainability, Inc. (“CCFS”). While the group originally starting meeting to address Nestle Water North America’s permit application to harvest spring water from Chaffee County for bottling in Denver, the group quickly saw a broader need for a permanent citizen’s group focused on sustainability issues…


CCFS is holding an informational meeting on Monday, March 30, 2009 at 7:00PM at the Buena Vista Community Center. The meeting will address issues relating to Nestle Water’s permit application, as well as general membership information and volunteer opportunities. CCFS invites any and all local residents to attend…

For more information:
Jay W. Hake
Chaffee Citizens for Sustainability

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Southwestern Water Conservation District annual meeting

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From the Water Information Program: “The Southwestern Water Conservation District’s 27th Annual Seminar will be conducted on April 3, 2009 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Durango, Colorado. For more information and/or to register, call (970) 247-1302.”

H.B. 09-1308, Funding For Div Of Water Resources and S.B. 09-216, Increase Cash Funds Div Water Resources

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Here’s an update on legislative efforts to stretch oil and gas severance tax revenue and adequately fund the Colorado Division of Water Resources, from K.C. Mason writing for the Fort Morgan Times. From the article:

While about $200 million still needs to be cut from state government spending in the next 10 weeks, several rural lawmakers, including Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, and the Democratic chairs of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, are looking at severance taxes to help fill a $2.5 million gap in the state engineer’s budget. The budget hole is partially to blame for the freezing of eight water commissioner positions statewide. “There’s water running right now and we have to have people on the ground administering our prior appropriations system in Colorado immediately,” Sonnenberg said. “If not, we better increase our law enforcement because there will be fights at the headgates.”

State Engineer Dick Wolfe said the frozen positions are a problem, but not as large as Sonnenberg fears. “It’s a matter of determining the highest priority,” Wolfe said. “Some things will go unadministered and we will reprioritize and reassign commissioners where they are most needed.” Wolfe said his division also will continue to trust the water users themselves. “A lot is based on the trust of the people out there,” he said. “We have a pretty good compliance with our water users and don’t spend a lot of time on enforcement. That’s not to say people might not do mischievous things but generally people are pretty cooperative.”[…]

[Senator Jim] Isgar and [Representative Kathleen] Curry also are co-sponsoring a bill that would move the water resources division into a better position to get funding from severance tax revenue. By doing so, they hope to avoid substantial fee increases that officials have proposed for well permits and inspections, dam design review and administering substitute water supply plans. “We’re trying to get more money to the (water) division to cope with expected budget cuts the next two years,” Curry said. “If the fees are not increased, then we have to find a way to fund this division. These people are needed out in the field to administer our water.”[…]

House Bill 1308 (pdf), with Curry and Isgar as the primary sponsors, puts the state engineer’s office in the same category as all other agencies within the Department of Natural Resources to receive a share of funding from the operational account of the Severance Tax Trust Fund. Currently, the water division is the only DNR agency that gets most of its funding from the general fund. The rest, including the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Division of Wildlife and the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, are the so-called Tier One agencies that are funded from the operational account. Other programs funded from the operational account are considered Tier Two programs and include LEAP, the Endangered Species Trust Fund and the Water Supply Reserve Account. The diminishing severance tax revenue only adds to the competition among those funds.

Scheduled for debate on the House floor later this week is Senate Bill 216, which originally contained the proposed $2.5 million worth of fee increases to make up for general fund budget cuts to the state engineer’s office. The House Agriculture Committee approved Sonnenberg’s amendment to delay the fee increases until at least July 1 and replace them with $500,000 from unallocated funds within the Governor’s Energy Office. “This is not a long-term solution; it only deals with the shortage of trying to manage the waters of the state in this fiscal year,” Sonnenberg said. “Rather than funding the state engineer with premature fee increases, we look at unused funds in the governor’s office.”

Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, defended the JBC’s original version of SB 216 and indicated he would seek to restore the fee increases. “The point of the bill was to move costs of providing various water-well and related services from the general public to the people who use those services,” Pommer said. “Right now we’re taxing everyone to subsidize a small group who receives services.” Committee members countered that water administration is a statewide issue.

Alamosa: EPA grant for testing of unregulated household water

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From the EPA: “The organization Citizens for San Luis Valley Water in Alamosa, Colo. received $20,000 from EPA for the LEAP HIGH program, a broad-based collaborative network formed to help low-income rural populations living in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. The goal of this project is to provide testing of unregulated household drinking water wells and to educate participants about ways to protect their health by protecting their water supply. Test results will be a tool for health care providers, local governments, regulatory agencies, and decision makers. This proposal furthers the success of EPA Region’s 8 2006 San Luis Valley Drinking Water Well Project.”

Georgetown/Idaho Springs chasing stimulus dough

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From the Clear Creek Courant (Ian Neligh): “Georgetown is hoping to receive $5 million from the federal economic stimulus package for local infrastructure projects. The projects include updating the water plant and wastewater facility and building a new roundabout at the entrance to town from Interstate 70. Both water projects could begin construction this September; work on the roundabout is planned to start next year to coincide with the completion of the Argentine Street improvement project…

“Town Administrator Cory Nicholson said that while the town’s water tower is structurally “sound,” the plant’s water filters need to be replaced. In order to make the fixes to the 1.5 million-gallon tank, a second, smaller one would have to be built to continue the supply of water. The cost will be $3 million, $2 million of which the town is hoping will come from the stimulus money. The remaining $1 million will come from a revolving no-interest loan from the state…

“And in an attempt to update its aging wastewater plant, Georgetown is also hoping to get $2 million in stimulus money and another $3 million loan from a state revolving fund.”

From the Clear Creek Courant (Ian Neligh): “The city of Idaho Springs this week submitted a single request for federal stimulus funds for a $750,000 project…

“According to City Administrator Cindy Condon, the project selected would be modification of the dead-end water line that travels east down Miner Street to Colorado Street. The funds would be used to loop the line so there wouldn’t be interruptions on the east end of town during a water-flow problem.”

Lake Granby: CPDHE issues fish consumption advisory

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Add Lake Granby Lake Trout to your list of limited consumption fish. Here’s a report from Tonya Bina writing for the Sky-Hi Daily News:

Out of 33 lakes tested in 2008, Granby resulted in one of five where at least one fish met or exceeded the mercury action level of 0.5 parts per million set by the state health department. The Colorado standard is more stringent than the federal standard at 0.3 parts per million in fish tissue. The Lake Granby advisory targets large-sized lake trout. It recommends that children aged 6 years or younger not consume any lake trout greater than 30 inches. Pregnant women, nursing women and women who plan on being pregnant should limit themselves to one meal per month of lake trout larger than 30 inches. The same is recommended for the general public. A meal is considered to be 8 ounces for adults. “The higher up in the food chain, the more the organism may bio-accumulate the levels of mercury, but it might not be in all fish,” said Randy Hampton of the Colorado Division of Wildlife…

The fish tissue testing is part of an ongoing five-year sampling of about 120 water bodies in Colorado. Since 2004, more than 112 water bodies have had laboratory testing completed. Of those, about one in five have required fish consumption advisories for mercury. Also listed are two water bodies not part of the mercury study, but were posted for other parameters: Sweitzer Lake for selenium, and Willow Springs Ponds for perchloroethylene. Fish consumption advisories for various Colorado lakes can be found on the state’s Web site at

Snowpack news

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From the Steamboat Pilot & Today (Tom Ross): “Expressed as a percentage of average, the stored water in the combined Yampa and White river drainages declined by 12 points in the past two weeks, from 108 to 96 percent of average. There remains individual snowpack measuring sites in the region that are above average, according to online data reported by the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service…

“At the Rabbit Ears snowpack measuring site on the west side of Rabbit Ears Pass, snow-water equivalent has slipped from 110 percent of average March 9 to 101 percent Monday. That change was recorded even as the actual amount of water grew by 4/10 of an inch. The Rabbit Ears site is at an elevation of 9,400 feet, and as the snowpack has condensed in the relatively mild March weather, the actual snow depth has shrunk from 61.7 inches March 2, to 58.3 inches March 9 and 51.1 inches Monday. The snow-water equivalent remains at 104 percent of average at the Elk River measuring site on the western edge of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area in North Routt County. However, that percentage was at 120 percent March 9. One spot in the region where the snow-water equivalent actually has decreased is on the edge of the Flat Tops south of the communities of Phippsburg and Yampa. At the Crosho Lake measuring site, the water content at 9,100 feet reached a monthly peak of 13.2 inches March 16 and has since declined to 11.5 inches.”

Water Company, LLC to expand Pueblo operations

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The water treatment business is doing well in these scary economic times. Here’s a report about Pueblo firm Water Company, LLC’s plans to expand operations in Pueblo, from the Environment News Service. From the article:

Known simply as The Water Company, LLC, the company has about 30 employees and operates in a small industrial building near the Pueblo airport. With today’s announcement, the company will be moving to a larger facility and growing its workforce to at least 140 by 2012. “These are clearly difficult economic times around the world, around the country and around Colorado. Pueblo itself is no stranger to tough times,” Governor Ritter said at a news conference with officials from The Water Company, LLC; the Pueblo Economic Development Corp., the Pueblo City Council and the County Board of Commissioners. “But even now, even as people are struggling, something exciting is happening here in Pueblo,” he said. “The Water Company is part of a clean-tech industry of the future,” the governor said. “It’s part of the knowledge-based economy we’re building all across Colorado. The new jobs and the expansion being announced today are another example of how we are leading Colorado forward by re-positioning and re-tooling Colorado’s economy for long-term sustainable growth.”[…]

The Water Company uses an electrical separation system for reducing contaminants and impurities from water known as capacitive deionization, that does not require chemicals and generates no secondary waste stream. Capacitive deionization involves the use of porous electrodes to remove dissolved ions through application of an electrostatic field. In the electrostatic removal system, a contaminated water stream flows between pairs of high surface area carbon electrodes. Ions and other charged particles, such as microorganisms, are attracted to and held on the electrode of opposite charge. The negative electrode attracts positively charged ions such as calcium, magnesium, and sodium, while the positively charged electrode attracts negative ions such as chloride, nitrate, and silica. Eventually, the electrodes become saturated with contaminants and must be regenerated. The voltage is removed, and the ions are released and flushed from the system, leaving purified water. Capacitive deionization is adaptable for use in a wide variety of commercial applications, including domestic water softening, industrial water softening, waste water purification, sea water desalination, treatment of nuclear and aqueous wastes, treatment of boiler water in nuclear and fossil power plants, production of high-purity water for semiconductor processing, and removal of salt from water for agricultural irrigation.

The Water Company aims to sell its technology to oil refineries and other industrial facilities that must decontaminate their discharged water to meet federal regulations. The Pueblo City Council is considering giving the company an existing but unfinished building, a $1.4 million grant and a no-interest $1.4 million loan for five years. Officials say the company would have to return the building and repay the grant if it fails to meet job targets.

Update: More coverage from the Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper):

It was a festive occasion, full of the promise of new jobs. So with that many Puebloans in the room, the speeches had to mention who went to which local high school. [Pueblo native and chemist Brian Elson], who noted that he graduated from Centennial High School, talked about how important it was to him that he has been able to work in his hometown and raise his family near his parents.

The Water Company, with support from the Pueblo Economic Development Corp., has decided to stay at Pueblo’s Airport Industrial Park and expand into a bigger business with the help of a $1.42 million grant and a $1.38 million loan from the city’s half-cent sales tax revenue for economic development. In exchange, the company intends to add 100 more jobs over three years. “These are jobs for scientists and engineers and are the highest paying jobs PEDCo has ever recruited,” said Dan Centa, PEDCo’s president.

Update: More coverage from the Pueblo Chieftain (Loretta Sword):

[Puebloan Brian Elson’s] creation — the Elsonite Capture Process — is the water-purifying technology that The Water Company hopes to install at petroleum refineries and other water-intensive businesses around the world.

The process involves using carbon-sponge electrodes and ionization to remove dissolved solids and chemicals from water. The result, Elson said, is a product more pure than can be found anywhere in nature.

“My dream was always to be the first one to see something, or for that matter, to hold it. I always thought that would be a wonderful moment, and it turns out it is,” said Elson, who not only was the first to see and hold the device, but who created it after countless hours of research and tinkering in his basement. “It’s a tremendously cool technology and it uses low-voltage DC power to do it, lending itself to the potential of solar technologies that would have a very small environmental footprint,” he said during a telephone interview a few hours before joining his partners and officials of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp. for an afternoon news conference…

“Our first business model is commercial, but in the long term, you will see this technology licensed to someone who will place it in homes for water softening. It will be used for ocean desalinization eventually. There’s a tremendous market for it because, basically, anything in water that holds a charge, we can take that out. “It will be used for municipal water reuse. With this technology, eventually we can take reuse water (treated sewage) and purify it to a very high quality. We can take those gray waters and remove the things that are dissolved,” he said, and end up with potable water of higher quality than what’s turned out of most municipal treatment plants.

Update: More coverage from the Pueblo Chieftain (Jeff Tucker):

The city of Pueblo celebrated one of its own Monday and followed the party with a dedication of $1.4 million in half-cent sales tax money, a $1.3 million loan and a 50,000 square-foot building to his company. Council voted unanimously to approve the designation to The Water Company, which plans to bring about 100 high-paying jobs to the community…

The city will give the company a 50,000 square-foot building on a lot at the Pueblo Memorial Airport Industrial Park and the money will help the company remodel the building to suit its needs.

S.B. 09-141, Fountain Creek Watershed

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S.B. 09-141 — the bill that would set up the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District — received preliminary approval in the state House, according to a report from Charles Ashby writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A measure that officials on both sides of the Pueblo-El Paso County line hope will end the water war between the two is only two more steps away from a gubernatorial signature. That happened Monday when the Colorado House gave preliminary approval to SB141, which would create the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District…

The measure garnered no negative votes or comments, but did generate jokes about how Pueblo and Colorado Springs — termed by more than one lawmaker as the Hatfields and McCoys — could quit feuding over the creek. After several lawmakers came to the microphone praising each other’s work on the bill, Rep. Elizabeth McCann, D-Denver, who was running floor debate on the bill, asked: “Would we all like to sing Kumbaya now?” she said. The measure requires a final House vote, which could come as early as today, before heading back to the Senate for a last vote. After that, it will head to Gov. Bill Ritter’s desk.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.