Precipitation news: Telluride area is missing the monsoon season

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From the Telluride Daily Planet (Katie Klingsporn):

This summer, though, there has been a noticeable absence of the afternoon storms. Monday — when people pulled out rain jackets and umbrellas to hide from the cold sheet of rain — was only the sixth day of rain in the month, according to a local weather reporter. And according to his tallies, the precipitation for the month is running nearly 2 inches behind average. “We’re way below average for the month,” said Thom Carnevale, who measures Telluride’s precipitation near San Juan Village. “This has been one of the driest Augusts we’ve had in the past several years.” As of Monday morning, Carnevale had recorded 91/100th of an inch of precipitation for the month, with rain falling on Aug. 5-6, 14, and 22-24. The average rainfall for June, he said, is 2.92 inches.

And this is only the second half of the story of strange summer weather. Chapter one happened in June, when what is typically one of the driest months of the year turned into one of the wetter ones. June — usually the month of sun-worshipping days — was cold and drippy this year. While the average precipitation in June is 1.22 inches, Carnevale said, this year June brought 2.59 inches — more than double the average…

For western Colorado, the southwest monsoon pattern generally begins around the second week of July, and can last into September. This year, though, Lawrence said that a consistent trough has hung over the east, while a ridge has sat over the west, “which has kept us high and dry and them wet and cold. It’s just kept us from getting a real monsoon season.”

Colorado State University: Center Lake rehabilitation

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

The problem at Center Lake is complex. Colorado State University civil and environmental engineering professor Larry Roesner, along with city officials, say they’re working hard to rid the lake of both the stench and the dead fish while rehabilitating it, so its ecology and fishery can be healthy again. More than a century’s worth of accumulated organic matter and sediment sit at the bottom of the lake, the largest of three lakes the city created along with Fossil Creek Park in 1996 at the old Portner Reservoir site. As the organic matter decomposes, it produces hydrogen sulfide, which is toxic to fish, Roesner said. Oxygen in the lake is stratified because there is too little circulation for the oxygen to be distributed throughout. The hydrogen sulfide stays near the bottom, and the fish normally avoid it. Since the park was built, he said, some of that hydrogen sulfide mixed into the upper parts of the lake when the wind blew, and the rotten-egg stench would waft through the park and the neighborhood.

So, to get rid of the smell and to rehabilitate the lake, the city and Roesner’s team installed aerators, which are designed to provide oxygen to all depths of the lake. Signs at the lake explain the aeration process and warn visitors some fish may die because of it. But the concentrations of hydrogen sulfide at the bottom of the lake were higher than Roesner expected. When Roesner’s team started up six aerators last Thursday, the stench became worse than normal and fish began to die, but not just because the hydrogen sulfide was rising to the surface. Organic matter circulating through the lake because of the aeration process sucks up oxygen in the upper depths of the lake. So, even more fish suffocated.

To solve the problem, the team has a new solution: A private company is going to bring in microbes that eat hydrogen sulfide and improve aeration in the lake, Roesner said. The goal is to eliminate the oxygen-impoverished layer in the lake water, which should get rid of the odor and improve the fishery, said Craig Foreman, Fort Collins director of Park Planning and Development.

More restoration coverage here.

Fountain Creek: Pueblo District Attorney credits Sierra Club lawsuit with nudging Colorado Springs towards action

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“It was not as important that a fine was entered as it is that the court found that Colorado Springs violated the act,” Thiebaut said. “We have argued all along that the pollution of Fountain Creek is a violation of law and the problem must be fixed.”[…]

Thiebaut, like Ross Vincent of the local Sierra Club, attributes the actions to improve Fountain Creek during the last four years as a result of the lawsuits. Colorado Springs Water Chief Bruce McCormick last week disputed that viewpoint, and said Colorado Springs prior to the suits already was committed to taking steps to reduce sewer spills and improve Fountain Creek. “In the order, the judge took note of the fact that Colorado Springs has begun to take steps to mitigate future spills,” Thiebaut said. “We have also acknowledged those positive steps but note that they began after, and we believe as a result of, our notices of intended litigation.”

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.