Colorado Springs and El Paso County disagree over measures to collect from Stormwater scofflaws

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Eileen Welsome):

The city wants to turn over nearly 10,000 past-due accounts to the county treasurer for collection by mid-November, but the treasurer is being cautioned against putting them on the 2010 property tax bills.

County Attorney William Louis sent a letter to County Treasurer Sandra Damron on Oct. 30, warning that the city-owned Stormwater Enterprise, which residents voted to phase out in Tuesday’s election, might not be entitled to use the county treasurer’s office to collect the fees. “Although hospitals and golf courses are operated by the private sector as well as by the public sector, there is no private sector hospital or golf course that can avail itself of this coercive power,” the letter states.

Normally, the county treasurer simply acts as a middleman, collecting the taxes and then passing them back to municipalities. But if the stormwater fees are, in fact, a fee and not a tax, the city should be barred from using “government’s most coercive powers, the tax lien collection process,” to collect payments, Louis writes.

More stormwater coverage here and here.

Did the Zipingpu Reservoir cause the devastating 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in China?

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From News:

To evaluate the possible effect of the Zipingpu Reservoir on the Wenchuan earthquake, Shemin Ge from the University of Colorado and his team constructed a two-dimensional model to study how the reservoir changed the stresses on the nearby faults. The researchers considered changes in static stress due to weight of the water and changes in pore pressure in the rocks beneath the reservoir due to fluid diffusion. They estimated that the Zipingpu reservoir increased stress on the nearby faults by enough to have speeded up their rupture by tens to hundreds of years. The researchers pointed out that resolving the question of whether the Zipingpu Reservoir contributed to the Wenchuan earthquake is important for understanding reservoir and earthquake hazards, especially in regions where dams are being rapidly built near faults.

Nitrogen and high mountain lakes

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From the Associated Press (Judith Kohler) via

Airborne nitrogen pollution from vehicle exhaust and farm fertilizer is turning algae in the alpine lakes of Rocky Mountain National Park into junk food for fish, a study says…

Arizona State University professor James Elser, the study’s lead author, said the effect of airborne nitrogen on once-pristine lakes is greater than previously believed. The nitrogen’s sources include vehicle exhaust, fertilizer used on farms and livestock feed lots and power plant emissions. More nitrogen can reduce long-term lake biodiversity because algae become poor food for other microscopic organisms and, ultimately, fish. The algae are high in nitrogen, but low in phosphorous and less nutritious. Previous studies have documented rising nitrogen levels in Rocky Mountain National Park, 70 miles northwest of Denver. Elser likened the algae to junk food. “It’s like eating marshmallows all day and expecting to grow. You can’t do it,” he said Thursday.