Upper Roaring Fork/Maroon/Castle Creek Watershed Plan Stakeholders Meeting, October 15

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From email from the Colorado Watershed Assembly:

Roaring Fork Conservancy invites you to get involved in your water future at a public meeting on October 1 in Aspen. The fifth of five public meetings on the Roaring Fork Watershed Plan, this meeting will focus on water resources in the Upper Roaring Fork and the Castle/Maroon creek areas. Roaring Fork River flows, transmountain diversions, and storm water are among the topics to be discussed. The meeting will be held at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies starting at 6:30 pm. For more information on the Roaring Fork Watershed Plan and these public meetings, please visitwww.roaringfork.org/watershedplan.

For More Information Contact: Mark Fuller, Ruedi Water and Power Authority (970) 963-4959 or Sharon Clarke, Roaring Fork Conservancy, (970) 927-1290.

More Roaring Fork watershed coverage here and here.

Eagle: Brush Creek restoration

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From the Vail Daily (Pam Boyd):

This summer, Brush Creek was the focus of attention. Eagle Open Space Coordinator Bill Heicher said the work included stream bank stabilization to prevent erosion. “The stream enhancement work, when it is done, you can’t tell that people have been in there with heavy equipment,” said Heicher. The idea is to create a better mix of pools and riffles, which in turn makes a better environment for fish. Riffles are more shallow areas where water ripples over rocks. Riffles are important to overall stream heath because they create oxygen in the water and keep water temperatures cool. Pools are deeper areas where fish congregate and where they winter. Both conditions are vital and ideally they alternate along a stream course. By bringing in the heavy equipment, the project was able to achieve that condition. “It improved the integrity of the stream. It makes Brush Creek function better,” said Heicher.

More restoration coverage here.

Littleton: City Council to decide on wastewater rate increase October 20

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From the Littleton Independent (Holly Cook):

Littleton City Council will decide Oct. 20 whether to approve a 9 percent increase in 2010 annual sanitary sewer charges for residents both inside and out of the city. If passed, inside city single family residential rates will increase by $18.86 for a total of $228.45 per year. This fee includes a charge to maintain the collection system that serves city customers. Outside city customers would pay $17.16 more per year for a total of $209.59. Even with the proposed increase, Littleton’s 2010 rates would remain lower than most surrounding municipalities, according to a rate comparison chart created by the city’s finance department.

More wastewater coverage here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: Little satisfaction with progress so far on contaminated spring near Debeque

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Here’s an update on groundwater contamination from the oil and gas industry, from Nancy Lofholm writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

Tests would show the water from a spring [Ned Prather] has drank from for decades was heavily contaminated with a carcinogenic and nervous system-damaging chemical stew known as BTEX — benzene, toluene, ethylbenzine and xylene. BTEX and other volatile organic compounds come to the surface in the production water from oil and gas wells.

Prather may be the only victim of oil-and-gas-field contamination to guzzle a glass of toxin-laced water. But last year, there were 206 spills in Colorado connected to or suspected in 48 cases of water contamination. Since 2003, there have been around 300 cases. State records show BTEX has seeped into water wells when the casings designed to keep oil and gas wells from contaminating groundwater have given way. Methane, the most common contaminant found in water wells, has blown a pump house off its foundation, forced the evacuation of homes and turned tap water flammable. In Prather’s part of the country, a Garfield County hydrogeologic study shows chloride is rising in many springs besides his, indicating they are being affected by drilling.

“I’ve always stuck up for oil and gas, but now when we need them to stand up and do what’s right, they won’t,” Prather said. “If I was asked what has made me the maddest in all this, it’s the oil and gas commission not doing what they are supposed to do.” Three companies operating in the area — Marathon Oil Co., Petroleum Development Corp. and Nonsuch Natural Gas — have been released from notices of alleged violation. Williams Production has been released from a notice on one drill site but is still being investigated on another site above the Prathers’ place. The oil and gas commission has spent $129,000 on the services of four environmental contractors and two chemistry laboratories and a still untallied amount on hundreds of hours of staff time and travel…

The four companies initially suspected in the contamination of Prather’s drinking water formed a group to investigate the problem. They installed 44 groundwater monitoring wells and 37 soil gas probes. As he stood out in the middle of the monitoring pipes that bristle up the draw from the Prathers’ spring, attorney Richard Djokic, who represents the Prathers, called the commission’s actions thus far “enforcement by negotiation” and likened the self-investigation to a bungled crime scene. “Imagine you have a body on the ground here, and we’re all standing around holding guns. A cop comes and says, ‘Figure out amongst yourselves who did this and let me know.’ ” [Dave Neslin, director of the oil and gas commission] argued with that analogy. He said the commission staff reviews all the companies’ studies and raw data.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.