California Gulch: ASARCO dough due December 9

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From the Leadville Herald Democrat (Ann E. Wibbenmeyer):

The state of Colorado will be getting $42 million of the $1.7 billion settlement. A smelter site in Denver near the intersection of interstates 25 and 70 known as Globeville, will be getting $16 million. Twenty-two million of the settlement money will be shared between the California Gulch Superfund Site and four other sites such as the Summitville Mine Superfund Site and a site near Vasquez Boulevard and Interstate 70. The exact amount to be used in Leadville is unknown.

More California Gulch coverage here and here.

Idledale: Turning dirt for new storage tank project

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From the Canyon Courier (Vicky Gits):

The construction site is about 5 miles up Grapevine Road on the northeast corner of Grapevine and Sawmill Gulch roads, west of Morrison off Highway 74. All of the water is sourced from four surrounding underground wells. Bosco Constructors of Englewood won the assignment with a bid of $436,000 from about five submissions. Construction is expected to be finished by March. The district is also seeking to replace the cast-iron water pipe that runs from the water storage tank to the distribution system, once all the easements have been obtained. The district is budgeting an increase in water rates of about $10 a month, starting in 2010, to cover debt repayment. The average water bill currently is about $75 a month. The upgrade is being financed with a 30-year, $920,000 loan supplied by U.S. Bank.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Aquifer protection the issue in Powertech’s plans for in situ uranium operation

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Protection of present and future groundwater sources is at the heart of the struggle for Powertech to get their proposed Centennial operation underway up in Weld County. The company is hoping to shape the rules to be implemented as authorized by recent legislation (H.B. 08-1161). The uranium exploration and production company would be essentially required to put the aquifer back to original condition after active mining ends. Here’s a report from Bobby Magill writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

“We can’t anticipate everything we’re going to come across,” [Powertech attorney John D. Fognani] said, adding that it is possible uranium extraction could move to a part of the mine site that hasn’t been developed yet. But the law requires Powertech to test the water across the entire site before it begins mining, said Assistant Colorado Attorney General Cheryl Linden, who was conducting the meeting. “Maybe I’m missing something here,” she said, wondering how Powertech could call its tests “baseline” if mining had already begun there.

David Berry, Mined Land Reclamation Office director, said it’s going to be a challenge for Powertech’s proposed mine to “mesh” with the law. “We’re going to have to make sure that 1161’s integrity remains,” he said. “I understand the operational sequence you’re describing. It’s going to be difficult.”[…]

Neither Fognani nor the Colorado Mining Association defended their previous claims that public comments on uranium prospecting and the baseline study are illegal. Powertech, through Fognani, claimed in its response to a recent version of the proposed rules that such public involvement would be financially unsustainable for the mining industry. Linden said state law clearly allows for public comment on those issues.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Fort Morgan: Rate hike?

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From The Fort Morgan Times (John Brennan):

The utility enterprise funds are essentially in good shape, City Manager Pat Merrill told the council, but the water fund currently shows revenue falling short of expenses by about $622,000 for 2009.
Water Resources Director Gary Dreessen pointed out that the weather this year has played a large role in that shortfall. “The reason the water fund is in the shape it’s in is that we didn’t sell any water,” Dreessen said, referring to the fact that consumption was down significantly because, for example, people did not water lawns nearly as much as usual last summer. He said he has been told by water consultants that “every water fund in the state is in basically the same situation.”

More Morgan County coverage here and here.

Moffat Collection System Project: Granby EIS hearing well attended by opponents

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In recent years the conflict between Grand County residents and Denver Water has been held in check by continued open communication and the water utility’s being sensitive to riparian and instream flow needs. The old animosity didn’t take much provocation to bubble back up to the surface however. Here’s a report about Wednesday’s U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public hearing at Silver Creek, from Tonya Bina writing for the Sky-Hi Daily News. From the article:

[Fraser resident Kirk Klancke] took the podium Wednesday night at the Inn at SilverCreek in Granby where official comments on the draft EIS were being taken and outlined the dire need for flushing flows for first-aid treatment of the Fraser River and a plea for more time to review the 2000-page draft “environmental impact statement” document…

“If we don’t draw the line here, where are we going to draw it?” asked Mara Kohler of Kremmling. “How can we protect the rivers that sustain us, if we don’t sustain them?”

“There needs to be a massive education campaign in the Front Range and Denver,” said Randy Piper of Fraser during his three minutes, “educating them as to the dire circumstances we have. Tourism is a tremendous revenue-generator in this state. The people who come here don’t come to Denver to take long hot showers and run barefoot through the lawns. They come here to the mountains. The bottom line is: We need to conserve, not take more.”

Comments were directed to the meeting facilitator, Scott Franklin of the Denver division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency checking the methodology and modeling of Denver’s draft environmental impact statement in conformance with National Environmental Protection Agency protocol. The Corps’ objective, according to Franklin’s statements, is to keep in check “the national concern and protection of limited resources balanced against detriments.”[…]

“This project makes no mention of the horrendous degradation of the William’s Fork River,” commented Ray Miller of Grand Lake, a 30-year resident and former ranger. “And the Colorado River is over-allocated. This profound alteration of this watershed has been institutionalized so long, East Slope interests have come to (view) it as a given. It’s been going on so long, they’ve lost sight of how ecologically viable this watershed is in its natural state … The benefits of diversion pale in comparison to the benefits of sustaining this ecological system.”

More Moffat Collection System Project coverage here.

Frederick: Northern Integrated Supply Project update

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From the Carbon Valley Farmer & Miner (Emily Dougherty):

NISP, in which Frederick has 2,600 shares, is a regional water supply project coordinated by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District on behalf of 15 Front Range communities. Their goal is to provide participating water providers with approximately 40,000 acre-feet of new, reliable water supply, which is enough water for about 400,000 people per year.

The town’s current sole source of water for potable water system is the Colorado Big Thompson project, which Frederick has outgrown, especially considering the projection that few CB-T units will be available on the open market beyond 2015. The water source would be Glade Reservoir, located northwest of Fort Collins and north of Horsetooth Reservoir. To fill the reservoir, water would be diverted from the Poudre River using the existing Poudre Valley Canal. On its Web site, Frederick’s participation in NISP is estimated to cost approximately $10,000 per acre-foot of yield, which would amount to about $26 million…

Recently, Save The Poudre printed a press release calling the NISP/Glade proposal a “Ponzi scheme,” saying, “the analogy refers to the idea that the entire project is predicated on rapid population growth – if the growth doesn’t come, or doesn’t come fast enough, then the financing scheme falls apart.” In a response to the comments from STP, Carl Brouwer, NISP project manager, said, “The NISP financing has never been predicated on growth alone …if the project is phased as growth occurs, this will only enhance the financial feasibility of the project.”

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here.

Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program ditch company grants presentation

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From the Delta County Independent (Kathy Browning):

The presentation will be given at Memorial Hall in Hotchkiss on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. Members of local ditch companies, irrigation canal organizations and anyone else with an interest in salinity programs are invited to attend. Federal grant opportunities are available to ditch companies that qualify for the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program. The Bureau of Reclamation accepts proposals to reduce salinity. Funding is available depending on the ditch company’s ability to reduce salinity from their area…

“I will be presenting background information on the program and also how to apply for funding to pipe and/or line irrigation canals and ditches. Up to 100 percent of the project can be federally funded,” Mike Baker explained. “The Bureau of Reclamation is anticipating requesting proposals under a ‘Funding Opportunity Announcement’ (FOA) in 2010. In 2009, we entered into a $5 million contract to fund the Grandview Canal Company (near Crawford) to pipe about 10 miles of their canal and laterals. Additionally, a brief introduction will be given on the Gunnison Basin Selenium Management Program.” For more information, call Mike Baker in the Grand Junction office of the Bureau of Reclamation at 248-0637.

More water pollution coverage here.

Surface Creek sourcewater protection meeting recap

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From the Delta County Independent (Hank Lohmeyer):

The project is conceived as an effort on the part of local water providers, including the U.S. Forest Service which administers lands where water supplies originate, to identify threats to source water quality and cooperate on a plan to protect those sources from contamination threats. The water providers involved in the initiative are the Towns of Orchard City and Cedaredge, Coalby Domestic Water Company, and Upper Surface Creek Domestic Water Association.

According to Colleen Williams of the Colorado Rural Water Association, a government-funded 501(c)3 that is leading the planning effort, the communities of Collbran, Rangely, and Paonia are all at various stages of developing their own source water protection plans. Williams is the “facilitator” of the effort to develop a localized plan which hopefully in the initial stages will attract grant money for things like fencing and signage to help protect local water sheds.

The committee is at the stage of developing management strategies for dealing with a range of source water quality issues including the following ones: Oil and gas development, roads and dust, livestock grazing, wildland fires and forest health decline, noxious weeds, septic systems, and a half-dozen or more other factors.

More Surface Creek watershed coverage here.

Uncompahgre River: ‘Examining Abandoned Mine Lands in the Uncompahgre Watershed’ December 11

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From The Telluride Watch (Gus Jarvis):

The Uncompahgre Watershed Planning Partnership will be hosting a daylong workshop titled “Examining Abandoned Mine Lands in the Uncompahgre Watershed” on Friday, Dec. 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Ouray Community Center. Various representatives from state and local organizations will be attending the workshop, which will focus on reclamation activities and abandoned mine lands in the upper Uncompahgre watershed. The workshop’s organizer, Andrew Madison, who is an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) volunteer working in Ridgway to develop a mine reclamation strategy for abandoned mine lands in the watershed, said that while there has already been a lot of mine reclamation work completed in the area, the work has just begun…

The Uncompahgre Watershed Planning Partnership is a volunteer group seeking to involve citizens and organizations in the Uncompahgre watershed. Its mission is to protect and restore water quality in the Uncompahgre River through coordinated community and agency efforts. “I am really looking forward to the workshop,” Madison said. “I have had a great response so far and I am looking forward to getting people to talk to each other on these issues.” For more information about “Examining Abandoned Mine Lands in the Uncompahgre Watershed” contact Madison at 413/297-7232 or at

More Uncompahgre River watershed coverage here and here.