Colorado Division of Wildlife Native Species Hatchery sends 3,000 Roundtail chubs to San Juan River

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From the Associated Press via The Durango Herald:

The New Mexico Game and Fish Department announced Wednesday that the fish were released into the river in late October. Roundtail chub were once found throughout the Colorado River basin, including the San Juan River and its tributaries in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. The species was listed as threatened under the New Mexico Wildlife Conservation Act in 1975 and uplisted to endangered in 1996.

They were stocked in the San Juan near the confluence with the Animas River, high in the system in the hope that they will disperse downstream into suitable habitat.

More endangered species coverage here and here.

Grand County fifth graders get a dose of prior appropriation knowledge

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Tonya Bina):

Jon Ewart of the Colorado Division of Wildlife showed students the spawning process of live salmon and the importance of lake and river health for fish; Jim Pokrandt of the Colorado River District had students “draw the perfect river town”; and Dick Batura of Search and Rescue showed students how to perform a Swift Water Rescue. In another room, Ali “Atom” Goosens of Mad Science featured demonstrations on fire, ice and wind.

Similar festivals are held on the Front Range to engage students on the importance of the resource. Werner calls it a “trickle up” theory of education. “It takes a couple of generations before every kid in Colorado understands we have to conserve every drop,” he said.

More education coverage here.

Longmont: Wastewater treatment plant bond issue passing as of Tuesday evening

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From the Longmont Times Call (Tony Kindlespire):

The measure, Ballot Question 2B, was passing handily at press time, by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent. The city will be able to issue bonds and use the money to make improvements to the plant, which was built in 1956. Though the plant has been expanded and upgraded and exceeds all state and federal standards, some portions that are still in use date back to the plant’s construction. Upgrades planned include repairing or replacing structures or equipment, upgrading the monitoring and control systems, and installing facilities that will generate energy from the methane produced by the plant’s sludge treatment system. The city estimates capital improvements at the plant will cost about $18.2 million over the next five years. The total cost will depend on the interest rate and the duration of the bonds, but it cannot exceed $21.13 million.

More wastewater coverage here.

Energy policy — oil shale: Ecoshale surface mining test said to be successful

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From the Vernal Express (Mary Bernard):

On Wednesday, Dr. Laura Nelson, vice president of Ecoshale, said the company’s pilot project has produced a high quality oil-shale product. And, “we did so working closely with the Environmental Protection Agency to make an environmentally sensitive product.” Nelson was briefing the Utah Board of Oil, Gas and Mining at the Uintah Basin Applied Technology College in the success of Ecoshale’s feasibility test. Ecoshale’s synthetic product has properties rated by the American Petroleum Institute (API) as 39 condensate oil and between 34 and 35 prompt oil with no fines, or impurities, in the oil. Based on the test study, Nelson projects full-production at 30,000 barrels a day would cost $20.21 per barrel, not including transportation…

“Ecoshale has access to the largest block of surface mine-able resource in region,” says Nelson. “The resource is called kerogen an organic matter with petroleum-like qualities which is heated in above ground capsules to extract oil from the shale.” The shale is mined, crushed and placed into a nearby bentonite-line earthen capsule where the oil product are extracted. It’s a slow heating process that produces a high quality product. The capsule and related structures occupy about five acres. The entire process has been patented by Ecoshale. “Our process has a small footprint, low carbon emissions, uses no water and employs a rapid reclamation of the landscape,” Nelson says. “Additionally, the bentonite lining protects against contact with surface or ground water sources throughout the process.”

More oil shale coverage here.

Silt Water Conservancy District ‘de-Brucing’ fails

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

A “de-Brucing” question for the Silt Water Conservancy District was rejected by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin, 1,010 votes to 823. Ballot Issue 5A would have allowed the district to keep and spend revenues above Colorado TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) limits.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

Colorado Springs voters approve Douglas Bruce’s Issue 300 but Mayor Rivera says it will have no effect on the operation of the city’s stormwater enterprise fund

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold):

The Douglas Bruce-sponsored ballot measure requires payments in lieu of taxes to the city to be phased out over eight years, beginning in July 2010, and the money returned to rate payers. The payments are designed to compensate the city for tax revenue it would receive if Utilities were privately owned. That amounts to more than $3 million in 2010. According to the city clerk’s analysis of the ballot measure, residential bills would drop 52 cents each month, beginning in January 2010.

More coverage from The Colorado Springs Gazette (Lance Benzel). From the article:

“Even though the language was extremely vague, I’m going to be recommending on Monday that we adopt a resolution repealing the Stormwater Enterprise and the fee (associated with it),” [Colorado Springs Councilman Darryl Glenn] said. Glenn said he plans to propose the immediate creation of a committee that would include county officials. The group would be tasked with developing a proposed regional stormwater authority to take to voters for their approval in November 2010. “That’s the way we should have done it in the first place instead of imposing a fee,” he said. But in the short-term, the council has a “responsibility to carry out the voters’ intent,” Glenn said. “One thing you can’t argue is that if you drove around the community, there were enough signs that clearly stated that this issue dealt with the stormwater tax and fee,” he said. “This council is in trouble if we, in my opinion, ignore the will of the voters on 300,” he added. “We need buy-in, and there has to be a relationship of trust with the electorate and to me, this will be a slap in the face if we don’t follow the direction that we’ve been given.”

More coverage from The Colorado Springs Gazette (Daniel Chacon). From the article:

Mayor Lionel Rivera, who said Tuesday night that issue 300 wouldn’t affect the Stormwater Enterprise, left open the possibility that it did. “There’s a question on whether or not the language the way it was spelled out in 300 really applies to the Stormwater Enterprise,” he said during a news conference. “I don’t know the answer,” he added. “We have to have a discussion with the city attorney to determine how we’re going to do an implementing ordinance to put all this into effect.”

The Douglas Bruce-sponsored ballot measure requires payments in lieu of taxes to the city to be phased out over eight years, beginning in July 2010, and the money returned to ratepayers. Bruce said it was “absurd” for city officials to say the ballot issue didn’t apply to the Stormwater Enterprise…

Meanwhile, Colorado Springs Utilities officials said they were still determining when ratepayers will see an impact from issue 300. The payments made by Utilities to the city, designed to compensate the city for tax revenue it would receive if Utilities were privately owned, amounts to more than $3 million in 2010. According to the city’s analysis of 300, residential bills would drop 52 cents each month, beginning in January 2010.

Folks in Pueblo County are looking north to see if Issue 300 will effect Colorado Springs’ commitments to Fountain Creek imposed on the city utility through the permitting process earlier this year. Colorado Springs Utilities is planning to build the Southern Delivery System pipeline through Pueblo County. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Wednesday morning, Mayor Lionel Rivera and Councilman Scott Hente challenged Bruce’s interpretation that Issue 300 ended the stormwater enterprise. On Tuesday night, Bruce triumphantly tore up his stormwater bill for TV cameras, proclaiming the end of what he calls a “rain tax.” The stormwater enterprise was approved by Colorado Springs City Council in 2005 and implemented in 2007. It was designed to raise $17 million a year to address a $300 million backlog of storm sewer projects in the Fountain Creek watershed. In 2008, Colorado Springs voters rejected a similar attempt by Bruce to gut the stormwater fees. This year’s version did not mention the stormwater enterprise by name, but Bruce campaigned against it while promoting Issue 300.

Colorado Springs issued a statement Wednesday that made it clear there are no intentions to remove the stormwater fee: “The passage of Issue 300 created a new ordinance relating to City Enterprises. City Council will have to take action to implement any changes as a result of the new ordinance. “Unless and until that occurs, we will continue to proceed under current City Code. Any changes made to the Stormwater Enterprise would require future action by City Council. “City Council has publicly stated that Issue 300 will not impact the stormwater enterprise so we do not anticipate any changes at this time to our operations.”[…]

In Pueblo, those who fought to gain concessions from Colorado Springs believe the stormwater enterprise is needed. “We believe the interpretation that storm sewers were not included in the ballot language is correct,” said Pueblo County Commissioner Jeff Chostner, who is also a member of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District. “I think the people of Colorado Springs see good things happening on Fountain Creek and realize that on an important issue like this, you need to establish trust,” Chostner. Regardless of what happens to the stormwater enterprise, Colorado Springs is still obligated to meet the $125 million in payments under Pueblo County conditions, Chostner said. “I don’t think that voting down the stormwater enterprise would affect the SDS requirements,” Chostner said. “Then, the question for them internally would be how they fund it.”[…]

Ross Vincent, of the Sierra Club, said Colorado Springs still has an obligation to take care of Fountain Creek regardless of what happens as a result of Tuesday’s vote. The Sierra Club successfully sued Colorado Springs in 2005 over violation of the federal Clean Water Act. “It’s disconcerting to say the least,” Vincent said. “Clearly, the Springs has got to capture and manage its stormwater effectively, and the residents and taxpayers of Colorado Springs will have to find a way to pay for it. “If not the current stormwater enterprise, then what, and paid for by whom? They need answers – quickly – and so do we.”

More Fountain Creek watershed coverage here and here.