Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District board meeting recap

A picture named fountaincreek.jpg

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Colorado Springs Utilities and the Lower Ark already have committed $200,000 toward district expenses for the next two years. The district also will receive $300,000 over its first three years from Colorado Springs for a study of dams for flood control on Fountain Creek, a condition of the Pueblo County permit. Lower Ark and Colorado Springs also are spending $400,000 to complete the corridor study. Costs are shared equally. But the seed money has the potential to bring in other funding, including a possible $8 million legacy grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, Winner said. The master plan already has raised $1.5 million from other sources, said Carol Baker, Fountain Creek specialist for Colorado Springs Utilities.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District: 2010 budget comes in at 14.5 million

A picture named fryingpanarkansasproject.jpg

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District approved its $14.5 million 2010 budget Thursday. Most of the district’s revenues – $12 million – go toward repayment of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, including $5.3 million for the Fountain Valley Conduit.

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.

Tata Chemicals launches ‘Tata Swach’

A picture named tataswach.jpg

Here’s the release from Tata Chemicals:

Pure water is one of the world’s most precious natural resources. With much of India’s population denied access to safe drinking water, the delivery of safe, convenient and affordable water purification is one of the biggest social and technological challenges in the country today.

Responding to this challenge, Tata Chemicals today unveils ‘Tata Swach’ – a unique and innovative water purifier. Requiring no energy or running water to operate, an early version of the product first saw the light of day as part of the Tsunami relief efforts. Today, the replaceable filter-based product, which is entirely portable and based on low-cost natural ingredients, delivers safe drinking water at a new market benchmark of Rs30 per month for a family of five.

Speaking at the launch, Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons, said: “Safe drinking water is the most basic of human needs. The social cost of water contamination is already enormous and increases every year. Although today’s announcement is about giving millions more people affordable access to safe water, it is an important step in the long-term strategy to find a solution to provide affordable access to safe water for all.”

Tata Swach is the result of years of collaboration between several Tata companies, including TCS, Tata Chemicals and Titan Industries. Based on an innovative concept developed by the TCS Innovation Labs – TRDDC, the Swach technology combines low-cost ingredients such as rice husk ash with superior nanotechnology. The efficiency of the product has been rigorously tested to meet internationally accepted water purification standards.

Water-borne disease is the single greatest threat to global health, with diarrhoea, jaundice, typhoid, cholera, polio, and gastroenteritis spread by contaminated water. According to a 2007 United Nations report, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from water-borne diseases. In India, such diseases cause more than 1.5 times the deaths caused by Aids and double the deaths caused by road accidents.

Built around a bulb-like water purifier made of natural elements like rice husk ash impregnated with nano-silver particles, Tata Swach is convenient to use. It produces clean and safe water without using electric power or running water, which is often not available in rural areas. The cartridge bulb is packed with a purification medium which has the capability to kill bacteria and disease-causing organisms. It can purify up to 3000 litres of water after which the cartridge stops water flow. The water purifier gives the user enough lead time for cartridge replacement. Fourteen patents have been filed for the technology and product.

Commenting on the launch, R Gopalakrishnan, vice chairman, Tata Chemicals, said, “Safe drinking water is a basic human right. Tata Swach combines technology, performance, convenience and above all affordability to serve this basic human right of millions of consumers. The company has made affordability an important part of its innovation efforts. Tata Swach can play its part in the national efforts to reduce water-borne diseases.”

S Ramadorai, vice chairman, TCS, said: “It was the pressing need of people trapped by the effects of natural disasters such as the Tsunami that saw the deployment of one of the earliest versions of this product. A key part was the insight that a natural material like rice husk can be processed to significantly reduce water-borne germs and odours when impure water is passed through it. At TCS, we are enormously proud to have played our part in originating this technology which TCL has made into a consumer-friendly offering.”

Speaking on the superior technology used in developing Tata Swach, Murali Sastry, chief scientific officer, Innovation Center and one of the topmost nano-scientists in the world said, “It is an enormous privilege to be a part of the development team on a project which has the potential of positively impacting the lives of millions of people globally.”

R Mukundan, managing director, Tata Chemicals, said, “With the launch of Tata Swach, we are taking a small step towards fulfilling our Chairman’s vision of making safe drinking water available for all at an affordable cost. Just as Tata Chemicals dedicated itself to the eradication of goitre with Tata Salt, so with the launch of this product we are committing ourselves to work towards wiping out the curse of water-borne diseases.”

Thanks to The Denver Post for the heads ups. More water treatment coverage here.

Recession puts U.S. halfway towards short-term greenhouse gas emissions goals

A picture named coalfiredpowerplant.jpg

From Reuters (Timothy Gardner) via The Scientific American:

The recession has slashed U.S. output of planet warming gases and puts the country on track to reach President Barack Obama’s short-term emissions goal, but cutting the pollution further will take more effort as the economy recovers.

“Losing weight by starving is different than shedding pounds through exercise,” said Kevin Book, an analyst at ClearView Energy Partners, LLC.

More climate change coverage here and here.

Fort Morgan: Council retreat participants talk water

A picture named waterfromtap.jpg

From The Forgan Morgan Times (John Brennan):

Current council members, as well senior city staff and two new members who will join the council next month, discussed the city’s water situation and a variety of other topics during a council retreat Saturday morning at Memories Restaurant. Other topics on the meeting agenda included discussion of the city’s financial reserves; a review of the council’s rules of procedure; and the goals for the city’s new director of marketing and economic development. The first matter of business, though, was water…

[Director of Water Resources Gary Dreessen] presented charts showing the city’s supply compared to current demand in three different scenarios: with only the C-BT shares the city actually owns; with both owned and leased C-BT shares; and with a new supply from another project proposed by NCWCD, the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP).

“With NISP, we’re OK almost to 2050,” Dreessen said. “With just C-BT and leased (water), were in trouble by 2025.” Dreessen also noted that cost of C-BT water fluctuates with demand. While the price per unit has ranged as high as $16,000 to $18,000, the city was able to buy some shares this year for between $7,500 and $8,000 a share. The supply of C-BT water, however, is finite, and NCWCD officials expect it to run out of shares in about 10 years, he said.

The council has already agreed to participate in NISP, but the project will be costly — the city’s portion is expected to cost nearly $40 million. Water rates will have to be increased to help pay for the new supply.

“You’re going to have to make some tough decisions soon,” said Mayor Jack Darnell, who will leave office on Jan. 12 when new mayor-elect Terry McAlister takes over the mayor’s post. “Are you going to go with NISP? Is the council going to decide, or are you going to put it to a vote?”

Although the city would likely issue bonds to finance its share of NISP, Darnell also suggested the council consider starting with smaller increases in water rates soon, rather than waiting until the city’s NISP payments are due and hitting residents with a large increase all at once.

Projections included in Dreessen’s presentation showed the city will need to impose rate increases of 10 percent in 2015 and again in 2016, and another 7 percent in 2023.

More Morgan County coverage here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: The frac’ing debate surfaces again

A picture named hydraulicfracturing.jpg

From The JH Weekly:

What the frack? Hydraulic fracturing – also known as ‘fracking’ or ‘frac’ing’ – is a process of extracting oil or gas trapped in the tiny bubbles of tight sands commonly called ‘shale,’ by use of fluids under high pressure. The exact ingredients of the fluid are shrouded in mystery; closely protected trade secrets. “Halliburton’s proprietary fluids are the result of years of extensive research, development testing,” said Diana Gabriel, a company spokeswoman. “We have gone to great lengths to ensure that we are able to protect the fruits of the company’s research.” Industry reps maintain that the drilling fluids are mostly made up of water and sand, which acts as a proppant – holding a crack open long enough to extract the gas or oil. Officials insist that when chemicals are used, they are just a tiny fraction of the overall mix, and releasing specific details would only frighten and confuse the public, and would come at great expense to the industry’s competitive business. Chesapeake Energy, the nation’s largest gas driller, also stated proprietary concerns when asked by New York State regulators to disclose the chemicals in its drilling brew.

When New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) finally passed legislation forcing service companies to reveal the list of chemicals they use or cease drilling, they were shocked at the number: 260 chemicals. Of the 300 or so compounds the Bureau of Land Management suspects are being used by drillers in the Wind River Range and Pinedale Anticline, 65 are listed as hazardous by feds, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Many of the rest are unstudied and unregulated. Even more alarming, up to two-thirds of the fluids are never recovered through ‘flowback’ and remain underground … somewhere, according to Halliburton’s own records.

Meanwhile an Albuquerque company has patented new desalination technology for treating frac water at the wellhead, according to a report from Dohnia Dorman writing for Water and From the article:

The new water treatment unit, built by Altela, Inc. of Albuquerque, started purifying water last month at the BLX well head, and results show a complete success in the purification process. The mobile AltelaRain® system is 45 feet long and 8 feet wide – similar in size to a semi-tractor trailer. It is continuously converting the brackish frac water into water that is less than 50 mg/liter in salt concentration – about ten times cleaner than municipal drinking water.

“Altela’s new technology has created a unique opportunity for PA’s shale-gas industry to beneficially re-use and expand water supplies. The natural gas industry can now become a key element of environmental sustainability and stewardship here in the northeastern Unites States,” said [Stan Berdell, President of BLX, Inc., a natural gas producer in western Pennsylvania].

Altela has patented its new desalination process that economically removes all salts and other contaminants with a movable unit that sits directly at the gas wells. The innovation from Altela that allows the process to be so economical is centered around its non-pressurized technology, for which it can use inexpensive plastics, rather than corrodible metal, to purify these brackish waters. Its recent success in the Marcellus builds upon the company’s prior installations in the western United States and Canada, including receiving the first-ever water discharge regulatory permit to place clean treated oil-field water directly into the most pristine reach of the Colorado River.

“We don’t use pressure,” said CEO Ned Godshall, “so our product is much less expensive because it doesn’t have to have exotic metals to reduce their inherent corrosion. Our inexpensive plastic holds up to these brackish waters and that means our system provides clean water at a very economical price, from this 360-million-year-old Marcellus Shale brackish water. This is a real ‘win-win’ for both the environment and U.S. energy independence, since the water for the new wells being frac’d will be recycled water, rather than new water from Pennsylvania’s waterways.”

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Denver Water: Corps Moffat Collection System Project Boulder public hearing recap

A picture named grossdam.jpg

From Colorado Trout Unlimited (David Nickum):

[One citizen, Derek Turner] also noted that the EIS indicates that Denver will completely divert 100% of the flow from eight different streams in Grand County, and called for at least SOME protection of those resources.

Numerous residents of the Magnolia and Coal Creek Canyon areas – which would be impacted by the proposed multi-year constructon of the enlarged dam for Gross Reservoir – raised concerns about effects on the community, including heavy construction traffic on small rural roads, noise, and development of numerous quarries.

Several individuals highlighted the need to look beyond large engineering solutions for water supply and to instead look at options for conservation and water marketing opportunities including further leases of agricultural water. One witness emphasized that the rationale for the project was not based on basic water supply needs, but rather was based on the reliability standard – in other words, how severe of a drought should supplies provide for without the need for customers to go under restrictions (such as those that were used in the 2002 drought)? He noted that Denver planned to have far more water (and rarer need for restrictions) than did the City of Boulder, and suggested that the entire project supply might be unnecessary if Denver simply adjusted its planning expectations on this point…

Overall, the evening included a wide range of concerns expressed by citizens coming from a variety of different perspectives. There were no major supporters/champions for the project who spoke during the public hearing.

More coverage from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

… the plan requires federal approval, and at public hearings, opponents concerned about environmental harm have argued that Denver must rely more on using less water — not pump more from the mountains. “We need a paradigm shift. We need to start living within our means,” said Steve Paul, president of a Grand Lake homeowners group on the Western Slope and one of dozens who have testified before federal engineers.

Denver Water officials counter that their 1.3 million customers already have been cutting consumption — currently 87 gallons a day per person — by about 18 percent a year since 2005. They say nearly half the annual water-supply shortfall they project by 2030 — 34,000 acre-feet — will be met through further cuts. “We’re doing everything we can with conservation,” supply project manager Travis Bray said…

The battle promises to intensify in coming months as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a federal agency that oversees water projects, reviews public testimony and Denver’s submissions. Denver has not managed to push through a project on this scale since construction of Dillon Reservoir in 1963. The Environmental Protection Agency’s 1990 veto of Denver’s proposed $1 billion Two Forks Dam still looms in water-authority boardrooms. That project, backed by developers and opposed by environmentalists, also was aimed at preventing shortages.

Denver already owns rights to the water it would divert from the upper Colorado River basin — from the Blue River in Summit County and from the Fraser and Williams Fork rivers and dozens of streams in Grand County. But Trout Unlimited sportsmen’s advocates said that stream flows there already are dangerously low, threatening aquatic life, with algae increasing and once-clear Grand Lake turning cloudy. Boulder-area residents warned of harm to wildlife and lifestyle disruptions during construction to raise the dam and clear trees in expanding Gross Reservoir.

Some 350 advocates and community leaders have attended hearings in Boulder, Denver and Granby. The Army Corps of Engineers is now accepting public comments.

Learning how to live on less water “is a reality we’re going to have to face,” said Becky Long, water-caucus coordinator for the Colorado Environmental Coalition. “So why keep putting it off? . . . While Denver deserves credit for what they’ve done on conservation, we have a lot farther to go.”

More Moffat Collection System Project coverage here.

Deckers: Open house to discuss local watershed restoration efforts to mitigate effects of Hayman fire

A picture named haymanburnarea.jpg

From the Pikes Peak Courier View (Norma Engelberg):

The public is invited to an open house 4-7 p.m Dec. 15 at the Deckers Community Center to talk about ways to prevent damage to local streams.

More from the article:

Flood waters wash sediment into local creeks, and that sediment eventually ends up in Metro Denver reservoirs, decreasing holding capacity and causing the city millions of dollars in dredging costs. “Denver would love for us to restore the watershed but there are things we can do to help our local situation, as well,” Kot said. “Look at Trail Creek [Road], County Road 3. … That road is a lifeblood mechanism for all the hunters, fishers and tourists going into the backcountry, so Teller County does not want to abandon it. We’re looking at ways to restore it. We’ve been told in the past that sometimes the creek is the road and the road is the creek.” The three-year watershed restoration plan covers parts of Trail, Trout, West and Horse creeks in Teller and Douglas counties, all of which eventually drain into the South Platte River. Partners for this multimillion dollar project include the U.S. Forest Service, the National Forest Foundation, Vail Associates and other nonprofit organizations.

To restore the watershed, according to a letter from District Ranger J.R. Hickenbottom of the South Platte Ranger District, the plan includes:

Stabilization of eroded and sediment-filled stream channels.
Road or trail decommissioning, reconstruction, relocation or maintenance.
Planting of riparian and upland vegetation.
Treatment of noxious weeds.
Thinning of overstocked stands.
Monitoring of project effectiveness…

For information about the Hayman Fire watershed restoration project, attend the open house. For information on conservation district programs and opportunities, call the conservation district at 719-686-9405 or stop by the office at 800 Research Drive, Suite 100. The Natural Resources Conservation District office serving Douglas County is at 410 Fairgrounds Road, Unit B, Castle Rock, 303-688-3042.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here.

Denver Basin Aquifer System: State still issuing well permits despite falling water levels

A picture named denveraquifer.jpg

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

The number of pumping permits sought, and issued, has been falling for years, but regulators say they are still required to issue permits without regard for conservation. In fact, a state permit application fee raised in 2003 for budgetary reasons from $60 to $480 was lowered in 2006 to $100. “We may worry about it, but we issue the permits according to statutes,” Assistant State Engineer Kevin Rein said. “The question of whether or not it makes sense is something that counties, or the General Assembly, may address.”

Metro area water suppliers say the number of wells being drilled is likely to continue to fall, a sign of how deep, difficult and expensive drilling has become. “You have to build more and more wells to get the same amount of water,” said Douglas County Commissioner Steve Boand, a hydrologist by training and longtime leader in high-growth suburbs. “The conundrum is: Do we want to invest in more wells to get the same water we had? Or do we want to invest in alternative water supplies? I favor the latter — that we make an investment in renewable resources.”

The Colorado Division of Water Resources’ 2009 report on groundwater indicates levels are falling by as much as 30 feet a year at heavily mined areas around Castle Rock. Decreases at various wells range widely from less than 10 feet a year to 450 feet at one Parker-area well.

Metro area water suppliers have been seeking fewer permits, and drilling fewer wells, state records show. The number of permits decreased from 1,707 issued in 2000 to 249 so far this year. The number of wells drilled decreased from 1,294 in 2000 to 231 last year. This year, the data show, 92 wells have been drilled…

“Even though there are declines in water levels regionally, there still is significant water available in the aquifer. The concern South Metro has is to become reliant on renewable water resources, rather than groundwater resources, and hold those groundwater resources in reserve for periods of drought,” said Rod Kuharich, executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority, which represents 13 Douglas and Arapahoe county communities using groundwater including Castle Rock, Parker and Centennial. “Our current mix between renewable and nonrenewable water is roughly 60-40, and our members are moving steadily towards our goal of 85 percent renewable” by 2030, Kuharich said.

More Denver Basin Aquifer System coverage here and here.