British Antarctic Survey: New pictures reveal rich Antarctic marine life in area of rapid climate change

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Click through and check out the cool photos of some of the marine life along the Antarctic continental shelf.

More climate change coverage here.

Aspinall Unit update

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From email from Reclamation (Dan Crabtree):

Flows in the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gorge decreased last week. This was due to water being diverted through the Gunnison Tunnel periodically at the rate of 100 cfs to fill Fairview Reservoir. Also, the 900 cfs flow through the Crystal Powerplant is not in an ideal operating range for that particular unit. This, combined with less than projected inflows, required that releases be reduced to 800 cfs.

Reminder – The next Aspinall Operations Meeting will be held on January 21st at the Montrose Holiday Inn Express, 1391 S. Townsend, starting at 1:00 p.m.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

Energy policy — coal: Colorado scores $7.3 million for coal mine cleanup

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From the Associated Press via

The grant announced Tuesday is part of a total $369 million going to 28 eligible coal-producing states. The reclamation program is financed through fees on coal production and the grants are based on each state’s past and current production.

More coal coverage here.

Orchard City: Town board approves new pipes

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From the Delta County Independent (Hank Lohmeyer):

The West Main water line work is estimated at $4.4 million. If a $2 million low-interest government loan becomes available as hoped, work will commence with a $750,000 expenditure from the town water fund. The budget document foresees spending $1 million of the hoped-for loan next year on the project in 2010 with the rest carried over to 2011.

Repayment of the 30-year, one-percent-interest loan is estimated at $78,000 per year. That money will come from the $5-per-month capital construction fee now included on all Orchard City water bills. That fee raises an estimated $130,000 per year. It is hoped that other money to pay for the West Main project will come from future tap sales.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Sterling city council approves two water resolutions

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From the Sterling Journal Advocate (Forrest Hershberger):

The council also approved two resolutions regarding the water quality improvement project. The first is a resolution defining the intent of the city to “execute and deliver” a loan agreement with the Colorado Water Resources and Power Authority regarding the $29 million loan voters approved in November. [ed. This debt will pay for the construction of a new water treatment plant.] “This basically authorizes the city to notify the lending institution that the money spent, already nearing $600,000, will be included in the loan,” city manager Joe Kiolbasa said…

A 7-0 vote did, however, approve an agreement with the Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife that would provide funds to treat the Overland Trail fishing pond. The pond has experienced excessive algae growth in recent years. The resolution approved the city’s part in a subgrant costing $12,800 total for aeration of the pond. The city’s share of the cost is $3,200.

More Sterling coverage here and here.

IBCC: Conservation, ag dry ups, pipelines?

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The Interbasin Compact Committee has been charged with determining how to satisfy Colorado’s future water supply needs. So far there is little agreement about the mechanics for solving the problem. There is a agreement that there is a problem. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. Click through and read the whole thing. Here are a few excerpts:

Here’s the choice: Colorado can dry up 400,000 acres of farmland, build a couple more pipelines through the Rockies or put 5 million new residents of the state – plus most already living here – on permanent watering restrictions or shower schedules. Can’t make up your mind? You’re not alone.

It’s the big question Colorado’s Interbasin Compact Committee has been struggling with for the past year, leading to development of a model that projects the impacts from mixing the strategies. The foregone conclusion is that Colorado’s population will double by the year 2050. Every time someone stands up in a water meeting and suggests the state bar the borders for new growth, the rest of the group shouts down the idea, saying you can’t stop people from moving in, raising families and adding to the general prosperity that benefits those already living here.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

Colorado Springs: Stormwater utility spent $1.6 million on equipment

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Daniel Chacón):

The soon-to-be-annihilated Colorado Springs Stormwater Enterprise has spent more than $1.6 million on trucks, trailers, mowers and other pieces of equipment since it was created in 2005, according to documents obtained under an open-records request…

With the looming demise of the enterprise, there have been questions about the fate of the enterprise-owned equipment. “These vehicles will be used in 2010 during the phase out of the program,” Scott said recently. “We will be doing a reduced maintenance program so we will be using the equipment required to perform the maintenance, we will also be working on the in-progress and pending (capital improvement) projects, etc. We have not yet identified what will happen with the vehicles in late 2010.”

More stormwater coverage here.

Wild and Scenic designation for parts of the San Miguel, Dolores and Gunnison rivers?

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From the Telluride Daily Planet (Katie Klingsporn):

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just released a draft Wild and Scenic Eligibility Report — one of the first steps in achieving the designation — that identifies segments of the San Miguel and its tributaries, the Dolores and the Gunnison rivers for Wild and Scenic status. “The idea is to safeguard the value of the rivers,” said Erin Curtis, public information officer for the BLM. The BLM’s Uncompahgre Field Office is currently seeking public comment on the draft report, which can be found at

The document is basically a 155-page inventory that describes some 35 segments that may be eligible in terms of value of geography, ownership, wildlife, recreation and more. It identifies roughly 55 miles of the main stem of the San Miguel River — stretches that runs roughly from Deep Creek to the confluence with the Dolores River. It also identifies pieces of several of the San Miguel’s tributaries: Beaver Creek, Fall Creek, Dry Creek, Naturita Creek, Saltado Creek and Tabeguache Creek. In addition, it identifies approximately 20 miles of the Dolores River, including segments where “the scenic value created by the river flowing within the canyon is rare in the region of comparison.” These rivers were plucked from some 174 segments that the BLM inventoried — and were chosen for their beauty or history, their geology, paleontology or hydrology.

But in the end, in order to achieve this designation, a river or stream segment much be determined as both “eligible” and “suitable” — qualifications that each come with their own review process. Right now, these segments are in the eligible stage, during which land managers work to determine if the river or stream segments possess one or more “outstanding remarkable value.” These could range anywhere from having fantastic wildlife activity to great recreation, holding significant historic value to just being really darn scenic…

The BLM will be accepting comments on the Draft Eligibility Study until Feb. 26. Comments can be emailed to or mailed to the Uncompahgre Field Office, Attn: RMP Revision, 2645 S. Townsend Ave., Montrose, CO 81401.

More Wild and Scenic coverage here and here.

Pitkin County: Draft CWCB consumption report flawed with respect to county numbers

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From the Aspen Daily News (Catherine Lutz):

The Denver Post published an article on Monday citing a state study showing Front Range water consumption to be down while “some parts of the Western Slope have seen per capita water use explode in the last decade.” Referencing the study, the Post wrote: “Residents of Pitkin County, home of Aspen, used 1,851 gallons per person each day, the data show, as Elbert County folks used 111 gallons each.”[…]

CWCB’s report, however, is a draft, and staffers are working on a number of inconsistencies they’ve been alerted to since it came out in June, said CWCB’s Eric Hecox, section chief of the water supply planning division. Water providers gave the CWCB data on their systemwide water deliveries, which was divided by the permanent population of the service area to get at the per capita water use figure, said Hecox. The Pitkin County data was flagged for follow up, he said, because it was assumed there had to be some inconsistencies on how either the total water delivery or total population was calculated. For example, the population of Aspen’s water service area had somehow decreased by 10,000-15,000 people, Hecox said. And there are many communities in Colorado, like Aspen, that have high second-home owner and tourist populations that have to be factored in…

[Aspen utilities director Phil Overeynder] sent an e-mail to a CWCB staffer in November indicating that those served by Aspen city water use about 171 gallons per person per day — just under the national average and well below the Colorado average. In his e-mail, Overeynder explains that he’s using a local population of 12,000 people, taking into account second-home owners and tourists for a given period of time. Counting only the permanent population of the water service area — 7,550 people — Aspenites use 273 gallons per day. That does not include snowmaking, which is also served by the city utility…

The final CWCB report, whose full title is “State of Colorado 2050 Municipal and Industrial Water Use Projections,” should be finalized and released publicly by June, said Hecox.

More conservation coverage here.

Northern Integrated Supply Project: Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement now planned for summer 2011

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

The supplemental draft Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, for the project, which would draw water from the Poudre River, is now projected to be ready for public review in summer 2011. The final EIS is expected to be completed a year later, said Chandler Peter of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers…

A draft EIS on the project was released in April 2008. The document elicited hundreds of comments from members of the public and government agencies, including the city of Fort Collins. Because of the complexity and number of comments, the Corps announced in February it and a third-party contractor would craft a supplemental draft EIS with an eye toward releasing it next year. But more time is needed to collect data and work on computer modeling of the river’s flows and how it would be affected by various projects, Peter said.

The delay is tied in part to the Corps’ effort to use a “common technical platform” when evaluating several water projects proposed for the Poudre, including the expansion of Halligan and Seaman reservoirs, said Brian Werner, spokesman for Northern Water…

So far the process of crafting an EIS for the project has taken almost six year and cost more than $5 million.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.