Tonight at 6 p.m. we will scale releases from Ruedi Dam to the Fryingpan River back some more. As snowmelt runoff continues to drop, so have our releases. Starting this evening, flows in the Fryingpan should be around 190 cfs. Meanwhile, we are storing a little bit more water in the reservoir. We are just about full with a water level elevation of 7765.
The monitor – atop an 8-foot-high platform – consists of a glass jar enclosed in a metal box, the roof of which retracts when a sensor detects precipitation. The sensor notes when it stops raining or snowing and the roof slides back to protect the jar from contaminants. Hydrochloric acid in the jar binds with the mercury to prevent it from evaporating. The jars are collected weekly and sent to Frontier GeoSciences in Seattle for analysis.
“After the mercury study by the Mountain Studies Institute in 2007 and 2008, we felt we should take a closer look,” [Bureau of Land Management hydrologist Kelly Palmer] said. “After all, we’re charged with protecting the pristine quality of Class 1 airsheds such as Mesa Verde and the Weminuche Wilderness.” Scientists suspect the main source of mercury is power plants in the Four Corners.
Over time, data on weekly and total mercury accumulation will give scientists a good picture of the situation in the San Juan Mountains and allow them to compare results with 120 similar sites in the country, including two in Alaska, Palmer said…
Later this summer, the Environmental Protection Agency will install an apparatus next to the mercury monitor to measure gaseous mercury, an airborne form of mercury that reacts rapidly with precipitation or particulate matter and can be deposited in wet or dry form. Roger Claybrooke, a meteorologist with the NADP, and a half-dozen BLM and Forest Service seasonal employees did the hands-on work June 30. In addition to installing the mercury monitor, they replaced an old rain gauge on a separate platform a few yards away. A third platform holds a monitor that measures sulfur, nitrogen and organic content in precipitation. The Claybrooke team also wired the instruments on the three stations to talk to one another. The rain gauge data should correlate with that of the mercury monitor on the amount of precipitation and when it fell.
Chostner told the Pueblo Rotary 43 group on Monday that when the county debated a permit for the pipeline, Colorado Springs was negotiating on behalf of all the pipeline participants. That means the city was speaking for Pueblo West as well as itself, Fountain and Security. “They have a contract that basically established an agency relationship, like a real estate agency,” he said. Pueblo West didn’t complain until March, Chostner said, which was years into the negotiations and debate about the pipeline. Saying that Colorado Springs had originally wanted to reroute almost all the water in the river through the pipeline, Chostner said Colorado Springs agreed to the flow program to preserve some of the river as it flows through Pueblo. Pueblo West can’t think that a dry riverbed between Lake Pueblo and the confluence with Fountain Creek can be acceptable to anyone, he said. Even Pueblo West residents use the river and trail beside it for recreation.
The commissioner, one of three who represent Pueblo County, said Pueblo West wouldn’t have to give up much water. The district has about 4,600 acre-feet of water a year and would have to give up only 20-30 acre-feet most years. That could increase to 100-125 acre-feet a year, he said, under certain conditions. But he said that isn’t much compared with the 1,500 acre-feet being given up by Colorado Springs.
Aurora City Council Monday gave the green light for the deal, which would match an offer of $30.48 million from Ginn Development for a private ski resort at Minturn. The council’s action was final because a waiver of reconsideration was included in the initial motion. Pueblo City Council Monday approved the sale on first reading, a requirement under the city charter any time an asset is sold. Council’s final approval will be on the July 27 agenda.
Aurora was able to match the offer because of a clause in a 1997 lease agreement with the Pueblo water board that gave it a right of first refusal if Pueblo sold any of its transmountain water rights. The contract specifies that only water brought into the Arkansas Valley from the Western Slope can be used in the Aurora leases. “Aurora’s concern was that if we sold any of our assets we would not have the ability to supply water for the lease,” said Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo water board. “At the time we had no plans to sell any assets.”[…]
Aurora and Climax formed a partnership called the Fremont Pass Ditch Co., with Aurora controlling two-thirds of the company and holding an option to buy the entire Columbine Ditch in the future, said spokesman Greg Baker. Aurora earlier bid $30.5 million on the Columbine, but wanted to spread out payments over five years. The city reallocated its resources to offer the full amount this year, as Ginn Development had in its bid. “This is high-quality mountain water, and you don’t see that for sale too often,” Baker said. “The fact that it comes into the basin above Twin Lakes makes it perfect for us.” Since the Arkansas River does not flow directly into Twin Lakes – where Aurora removes water from the Arkansas Valley through the Otero Pipeline and Pumping Station – Aurora would have to exchange water from the Columbine Ditch into its accounts. But the exchange opportunities are greater near the headwaters and Aurora has other ways to use the water in the Arkansas Valley, Baker said.
Climax mine, owned by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., is located on Fremont Pass and could use the water directly. Last year, the company said it is still revamping the mine with the intention of reopening, but timing could be delayed by a weak economy.