Rio Grande Basin roundtable CFWE survey results

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

Through a survey conducted by The Colorado Foundation for Water Education, whose primary role is education, the roundtable members revealed the areas they believed the group has been successful, areas they believe they require more information and areas of future emphasis.

Of those responding to the foundation’s survey, Rio Grande Roundtable members said they believed their top priorities as a water group should be: to promote sustainable water use; promote statewide vision and solutions; identify projects and processes to meet future consumptive and non-consumptive needs; educate; influence water policy; and protect the basin’s water.

The priorities statewide ran a little differently with identifying projects and processes to meet future needs as the number one priority and influencing water policy as the last priority. Education came in fourth statewide as a priority. Second was promoting statewide vision and solutions and third was promoting sustainable water use.

Kristin Maharg from The Colorado Foundation for Water Education met with the Rio Grande Roundtable on Tuesday to discuss the survey results. She said the Rio Grande Basin identified its top water issues in 2007 as: Rio Grande Compact (effects of prolonged drought and achieving sustainability); agricultural water needs (ag groundwater use currently at unsustainable levels); economic impacts of reduced groundwater irrigation (minimizing those impacts); residential growth (in some areas of Valley such as South Fork the growth was creating a need for augmentation of water supplies); and municipal/industrial/ag water needs. Of those priorities, Rio Grande Roundtable members and participants ranked the issues they personally felt they required more information about in 2009. The top water education need was the economic impacts of reduced groundwater irrigation with the associated agricultural water needs coming in second. Respondents also ranked those two issues as the top priorities for water education for the roundtable as a whole with the Rio Grande Compact coming in next…

Three Valley projects will be going before the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC) next week including one for Willow Creek, one for a local Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and one for the Trinchera watershed. Smith said the IBCC has $5 million in requests for $2.4-2.8 million in available funding so the competition will be stiff.

More Rio Grande Basin coverage here and here.

La Plata Archuleta Water District looking for mill levy vote in May 2010 to fund district

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From The Durango Herald (Katie Burford):

[Dick Lunceford, president of the water district’s board] said the board is now looking at a May 2010 vote on the mill levy, with the interim spent making the case to members of the district that it’s worth the expense. Lunceford and Amy Kraft, who works for Harris Water Engineering and has been contracted to work on a master plan for the district, appeared before La Plata County commissioners during their regular meeting Tuesday to give them an update. Last year, voters narrowly approved creation of the district, which aims to establish a rural water system in areas of southeast La Plata where resident depend on wells or trucked-in water. The vote was 481 in favor, 449 opposed. Officials are now seeking passage of the mill levy to fund the system. A brochure being distributed by the district estimates that the property-tax increase for a $250,000 home would be $8.25 per month, or about $99 a year.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Aspen: Stormwater runoff

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From the Aspen Daily News (Catherine Lutz):

At one major downtown outlet, Aspen allows 11 times more sediment to flow into the river than the national average. City officials monitored the Mill Street “outfall” from 2003 to 2007, and found that the ratio of suspended solids going into the river averaged 1,700 parts per million. That’s 11 times the national average of 150 parts per million, said April Barker, the city’s stormwater manager. The Mill Street outfall is located at the bridge that crosses the Roaring Fork River leading to Red Mountain. It’s the largest of three major drainages in the downtown area, and, with nothing to filter the runoff, the most impacted one, said Barker. At one point the monitoring results showed sediment levels at 20 times the national average, she said. “In rural areas stormwater has the ability to hit a street or roof and then hit grass before going into the river,” she said. “But in an urban area [stormwater] carries pollutants with it without the ability to get filtered in grass. So that’s why lot line to lot line development has more impact than if everyone was more spread out. It’s something that has to be controlled; we need to find way to treat it.”[…]

Aspen can be said to have more responsibility than other Roaring Fork River communities, because it’s essentially the first place manmade pollutants can enter the river. “We are the upstream component to this watershed, so we are putting in the pollutants,” said Barker. “It comes out of Independence Pass clean.”

More stormwater coverage here and here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: Possible Wyoming groundwater pollution from frac’ing operations catches the eye of Colorado regulators

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From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

Dave Neslin, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, spoke about that Wyoming study last week at the Northwest Colorado Oil & Gas Forum in Rifle. The study found possible drilling-related contaminants, including a substance sometimes used to hydraulically fracture oil and gas wells. “This is something that we have been following, and we will be looking into. It’s more complicated than the press has suggested, and the connection to (fracturing) is not as clear as some of the press reports have suggested,” Neslin said…

The EPA found or tentatively identified contaminants in 11 of 39 water wells it studied in Pavillion, Wyo. These include methane in eight wells, and 2-butoxyethanol, or 2-BE, in three wells. Sometimes used in fracturing as a foaming agent, 2-BE also is used in household cleaning products and other applications…

Neslin said several new Colorado oil and gas rules are designed to address concerns about water supply protection. These include requirements to report results of pressure testing related to fracturing operations, to abide by minimum operational setbacks from public drinking water supplies, and to keep chemical inventories that must be made available under appropriate circumstances. Rules already were in place regarding well casing and cementing and the protection of groundwater, Neslin said. The chemical inventory requirement applies when more than 500 pounds of a chemical are used or stored on a well site. State oil and gas commissioner Tresi Houpt said Colorado may have to evaluate whether that threshold is low enough to be adequate for some chemicals.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.