Energy policy — hydroelectric: Projects in Silverton and Ouray score dough for micro hydroelectric

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From the Telluride Daily Planet (Katie Klingsporn):

Telluride Energy was awarded a $20,000 grant from the USDA Rural Development Renewable Energy for America Program this fall to install an 8-kilowatt micro-hydro turbine at the Mayflower Mill in Silverton. The company will be working with the San Juan County Historical Society to tap into water that flows through an existing pipeline in the Arrastra Gulch a couple miles east of the town. Once completed, the project will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 80,000 pounds annually, Johnson said.

In Ouray, meanwhile, the city was last week awarded a $30,000 grant from the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office to install a 20-kilowatt micro-hydro unit at the city-owned hot springs pool. Telluride Energy will be managing the project, which will again entail using an existing pipeline. The electrical output produced will offset the electric use at the pool, and over the 30-year life of the project it will save the city an estimated $370,000 while cutting approximately 224,000 pounds of annual carbon dioxide emissions.

More hydroelectric coverage here.

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project: Planning for the future

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

In 2008, a banner year for imported water, actual results were 10 percent below estimates as conditions changed from a massive snowpack early in the season to a warm May. A row of dry years ahead of the runoff may have caused much of it to replenish depleted supplies held in the ground and ponds throughout the region. This year, closer to average in the amount of snowpack, but cooler and wetter than usual, saw three distinct runoffs that left many scratching their heads about where all the water was coming from. As a result, there was more water than expected.

[ Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District Executive Director Jim Broderick] also is looking at ways to maximize the yield of the Fry-Ark Project in the future. The historic yield of the project has been about 80 percent of what it was designed for, of what even the West Slope agreed could be moved way back when.

There are physical limits as to how much water can be carried through the Boustead Tunnel, but that could be expanded if there were some way to store water on the other side. Right now, it all depends on when and how fast the snowpack melts.

The district also could look at purchasing more water, leasing water or other ways to increase supply for its members in years to come. It also has to analyze the risks to its structures and work with the federal government to make sure dams and diversion structures continue to function well, Broderick said.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here and here.

Energy policy — nuclear: EPA hears from locals regarding Powertech’s Centennial Project

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

[Fort Collins resident Diane Marschke] and about 15 others confronted U.S. Environ-mental Protection Agency officials at the Nunn Community Center with their opinions about a proposed water pump test that will tell Powertech if its in situ leaching method of uranium mining is viable in the area. To conduct the test, the company needs a “Class V” permit from the EPA, which will allow Powertech to pump water out of the uranium-containing Fox Hills aquifer, store it, then reinject the water back into the aquifer. The permit will not allow the company to mine for uranium. Powertech will be responsible for doing its own tests on the integrity of the well hole and casing, which are meant to ensure the water will not contaminate aquifers above the area where the water is being reinjected, said Valois Shea of the EPA Underground Injection Control Program…

The pump test permitting process has been going on for nearly a year, and a public comment period ends Thursday. The EPA’s final decision on the permit is expected sometime in early 2010.

Most who spoke Monday night spoke passionately against the pump test and proposed mine, most of them fearing the pump test will stir up contaminants and harm drinking water quality. “Powertech is testing their own wells,” Fort Collins resident Scott Horak said. “They’re monitoring their own situation. It’s like the fox guarding the hen house. It isn’t gonna work.”[…]

One of the few who spoke in favor of the pump test was Erik Nelson, a mining engineer who lives near the Powertech site. He said any contaminants from the test won’t go farther than the well head, and neither the test nor the mine pose any hazard to the groundwater.

More coverage from Jakob Rodgers writing for The Greeley Tribune. From the article:

Should the EPA grant the permit, Mylott said Powertech hopes to draw water up through a pipe and store it in containers. After testing it to determine the quality of the water and how the aquifer recharges, the water would then be placed back into the aquifer unprocessed. The company has yet to file for a class III permit to actually mine uranium at the site, Mylott said. Once it does, Mylott said there would be another public comment period before a final decision is made…

Meg Corwin, the regional director for U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., also spoke at the meeting. She read a letter sent by Bennet and U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Colo., to the agency noting their constituents’ concerns and urging the agency to make the rule-making process public. The meeting was the second public comment meeting concerning the class V permit — the first meeting was held in July. The comment period is open through Thursday, Mylott said. Comments gathered until then will factor into the agency’s decision on whether to grant the permit, he said.

More nuclear coverage hereand here.

Greeley: New pipeline through LaPorte may utilize tunneling rather than trenching

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From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

Jon Monson, director of the city’s water and sewer department, said the city hopes to bore a tunnel underground for part of its new water pipeline from the Bellvue Water Treatment plant near Laporte, rather than dig an open trench. There are several reasons, Monson said, the least of which is that a tunnel will be less invasive to old railroad bridges, wildlife habitat and other environmental concerns dealing with restoration…

The area in question is about a quarter-mile in length. About 700 feet would be tunneled in three different locations, Monson said. “The problem is two ridges of rock, and we’ve decided it would be better to tunnel under that rock instead of trenching through it,” Monson said.

The decision doesn’t necessarily end a dispute with landowners in the area who are opposed to the pipeline going under their property. “We certainly hope this goes a long way toward ending the dispute with landowners, but they haven’t been terribly responsive” to the tunneling idea, Monson said. “We’re really trying to listen to their concerns. But they just don’t seem to want us there at all.”

Monson said the cost of tunneling is expected to be about the same as trenching because the price to restore the land and address historic and environmental concerns was substantial.

More coverage here and here.

Trinidad Lake North Watershed project scores $60,000 in stimulus dough

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From the La Junta Tribune-Democrat:

The first contract in the Trinidad Lake North Watershed (TLNW) Project using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 dollars was recently signed by John Knapp, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Area Conservationist, La Junta. The project area is in Las Animas County…A total of five Colorado watershed projects were approved for funding, including the TLNW Project in the Trinidad area, which will receive approximately $60,000.

The project area encompasses approximately 111,100 acres. Conservation practices installed will result in the reduction of sediment transported to Trinidad Lake, thus improving water quality. There will also be improved grazing values and significant habitat improvement for the Trinidad Lake fishery.
“We are very pleased that the Trinidad Lake North Watershed Project was one of the five watersheds in Colorado to receive funding,” stated Knapp…

NRCS partners in the TLNW Project include the Spanish Peaks Purgatoire River Conservation District, Purgatoire River Conservancy District, Las Animas County, City of Trinidad, and Colorado State Conservation Board. For additional information about the TLNW Project, contact Levi Montoya, district conservationist, Trinidad NRCS office, at (719)846-3681 ext. 3.

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.

Raw water systems winter operations

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Here’s a look at winter operations for Pueblo’s raw water system, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. Click through and read the whole thing. Here are a couple of excerpts:

“When we plow the roads out, those banks of snow start to melt and freeze again until they turn hard as rocks. The trucks can get pretty banged up, so those guys have to be careful,” said Bud O’Hara, water resources division manager for the Pueblo Board of Water Works. Avalanches, broken bulldozer blades and survival in a dozen feet of snow are all part of the job for those who maintain and clear the systems that bring the water over. “Every one is different,” O’Hara said.

The Twin Lakes system, where a caretaker lives year-round, is in a bowl of mountains where avalanches are common. Those who live with them say you can hear them coming. In the winter, the caretakers at Grizzly Lake, located in the high country of the Roaring Fork valley near Independence Pass, have to drive to Leadville through the Twin Lakes Tunnel for supplies because the drifts are too high to make the trip to Aspen. Their lifestyle is isolated in the remote valley.

More Pueblo Board of Water Works coverage here and here.