Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust scores $1 million for Rio Grande corridor conservation easements

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From the South Fork Tines:

The newly awarded funds will be used over the coming year to complete two important conservation easements on the Rio Grande river corridor. The federal dollars also serve as matching funds to previous awards from the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund (GOCO), the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Habitat Partnership Program, The Nature Conservancy, Mineral County, the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, and other local and regional supporters. With generous donations from the participating landowners, the NAWCA award will help achieve more than $12 million in conservation value on critical river ranches. These projects are part of the overall Rio Grande Initiative, a project led by RiGHT, along with key partners The Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited, to conserve the ranches, important wildlife habitat and scenic beauty of the Rio Grande. A portion of the NAWCA award will also fund improved water delivery infrastructure on the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, which includes an important reach of the Rio Grande and senior water rights that provide vital habitat for waterfowl and migrating birds.

More conservation easement coverage here.

Telluride: ‘High and dry’ demonstration garden requires no supplemental water

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From The Telluride Watch (Martinique Davis):

[The] special High and Dry Garden [is] sponsored by Colorado State University Cooperative Extension in Norwood. Located along the east end of Telluride’s River Trail, the garden features plants carefully chosen to demonstrate one seemingly difficult achievement – to have a beautiful garden at high altitude that doesn’t require watering. Started last summer and still developing, Telluride’s demonstration garden is the first High and Dry garden of its kind on the Western Slope (with the exception of a similar demonstration garden outside Norwood’s CSU Extension office). It isn’t chock-full of showy plants with massive, colorful blooms. Rather, the plants selected for this garden a more practical side of high-altitude horticulture, since they are all considered “water-wise,” or “xeric.” In other words, this garden was designed and planted to exist on Telluride’s precipitation alone. Despite having no requirements for supplemental water, the High and Dry Garden is far from austere. Plants like serviceberry, French sage, penstemon, primrose, and geranium dot the raised bed, offering bursts of color and interesting shapes amid the gray gravel mulch – also intentionally chosen because effectiveness over wood chips at reducing water evaporation. A red gravel path cuts through the middle of the garden, providing color contrast to the gray mulch and a raised vantage point to examine the intricacies of water wise gardening.

More conservation coverage here.

Golden: Pilot project to test lowering of pharmaceuticals and other pollutants with education program

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From (Meredith Knight):

The study specifically targets consumer products such as shampoo, antibacterial soaps and lotions that contain chemicals that persist in the water system after they are washed away and have unknown health effects for aquatic life, according to Project Manager Sara Klingenstein. Millions of dollars are spent on studying the toxic effects of these chemicals, but little is done to study protection, EIS director Carol Lyons said. “To our knowledge nobody aside from ourselves is conducting a project to prevent contaminants of emerging concern from getting in the water,” Lyons said. In the next few months IES hopes to have a list of recommendations people could implement to reduce their chemical footprint, or the amount of chemicals they put into the wastewater system, according to Lyons.

Musk ketone, for example, is a chemical fragrance often included in shampoos and other scented products. “It’s designed to be very persistent,” Klingenstein explained, so the product’s fragrance lasts. But that means the chemical does not break down in wastewater and is ingested by the tiny krill and other organisms that larger fish eat. The contamination can then be passed on to larger organisms.

Initial water samples have been taken from the city’s wastewater system to establish baseline levels of the chemicals. EIS will conduct surveys to find out about people’s buying and using behaviors. The project’s goal is to reach 400 to 500 households.Then, the six-month community-based social-marketing campaign will begin. Klingenstein said the outreach would be interactive, rather than just providing information. She envisioned “Tupperware parties without any Tupperware” where neighborhood groups would gather to learn about contaminants, how to read labels to find them in products, and what alternative products are available. After that, water samples and consumer surveys will be taken again to see what impact the study had. If the study proves successful, EIS will make the program available to other cities and include other emerging contaminants…

The Institute for Environmental Solutions will be checking levels of more than a dozen emerging contaminants before and after its educational campaign in Golden. Those chemicals include atrazine, an herbicide, triclosan, an antimicrobial agent found in antibacterial soap, bisphenol A, found in plastic water bottles, and methylparaben, an antifungal agent used to preserve foods.

More water pollution coverage here and here.

CWCB: La Plata Archuleta Water District scores $400,000 from board for creation of district

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From The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh):

“We’ve been working on the master plan over the summer,” Steve Harris, the principal in Durango-based Harris Water Engineering, said Thursday. “It will identify sources of water and the general layout of the pipelines and the order of installation.” The Animas and Pine rivers are the desired choices to provide water for the system, Harris said. Although no sources of water have been secured, the district would like to get half from the Pine, half from the Animas. Pine River water would be taken from the diversion point used by the town of Bayfield, which would partner with the water district in building a new water-treatment plant next to the town’s existing plant, Harris said. The water would serve customers in the eastern part of the district, Harris said. Animas River water, which would serve residents on Florida Mesa, would be diverted from the outlet on the Ridges Basin dam southwest of Bodo Industrial Park, treated at a plant yet to be constructed and then piped to Florida Mesa, Harris said…

Harris said there are 4,000 houses in the water district service area, but not all need or want a connection. Projections estimate the district will have 4,000 customers over 50 years. “But the advantage is that even without a single new house, the system is feasible,” Harris said. “It is not dependent on growth.” The district has been a long time in coming, Harris said. Most rural communities on the Western Slope have drinking-water systems, he said. Harris said the state agency grant allows work to continue on the master plan and permit acquisition from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and La Plata County.

More coverage of the recent CWCB grants from The Denver Post:

The Colorado Water Conservation Board has awarded $3.3 million in grants to 14 water projects across the state and approved more than $2 million in loans for four projects. Director Jennifer Gimbel says the grants included two totaling about $1 million to address water supplies and infrastructure in the south Denver area. The Fort Morgan Reservoir and Irrigation Co. in eastern Colorado will get a $670,000 grant in part for a wetlands project.

More CWCB coverage here.

Lake Fork of the Arkansas River: Cleanup efforts

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Here’s a look at cleanup efforts along the Lake Fork of the Arkansas River and “good samaritan” legislation the supporters contend would lead to a greater cleanup effort, from Katie Redding writing for the Colorado Independent. From the article:

…members of the Lake Fork Watershed Working Group point out the strides they have taken to improve the watershed. Before the group started its clean-up efforts, the water at the confluence of the Lake Fork River and the Arkansas River did not meet Colorado water quality standards, even though the EPA had spent millions of dollars cleaning the river just upstream. Data showed the heavy metals from the Sugarloaf Mining District were carried up to 100 miles downstream along the Arkansas River, a waterway popular among boaters and fishermen, and used as a water source for Aurora, Pueblo and Colorado Springs. Since then, members of the watershed group have moved many tailing piles out of drainage paths and into repositories. This fall, they plugged the Dinero Tunnel, to keep it from continuing to release toxic water. At the Tiger Tunnel, where the rock isn’t strong enough for a plug, the group has plans to build a “sulfate-reducing bioreactor” next summer — an artificially constructed wetland that will reduce the heavy metals and acidity of the water. But the true benefits may not be apparent for a few more years, as insects, fish and wildlife start to return to drainages formerly too toxic for them. “It takes time for rivers to improve themselves,” Russell said.

More restoration coverage here.

Fountain Creek: $500,000 collector demonstration project for sediment control and water quality

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The city last week received $190,000 from the Water Supply Reserve Account, which is administered by the Colorado Water Conservation Board on the recommendation of basin roundtables, for the project. The money will be added to $200,000 from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and $75,000 from the city’s stormwater enterprise. Another $50,000 from the state health department will go toward a floodwater detention basin below the North Side Walmart.

The project will install a 20- to 30-foot concrete collector designed by Streamside Systems at the railroad bridge about one-half mile from the confluence of Fountain Creek with the Arkansas River. The collector continuously removes bed-load sediment – the type that builds the sand bars in Fountain Creek – as water flows over it. The sediment is removed by pumps and can be sorted into different grades of material. Preliminary tests on a much smaller scale showed the collector could have a significant impact on water quality as well…

Sediment removal in Pueblo is important to maintaining the effectiveness of the levee system along Fountain Creek. The levees were built in the 1980s after the flood of 1965, but the amount of freeboard – the surge associated with flooding – has been compromised as the channel silted up.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.