DCWater.org: ‘Out of this world water conservation’

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Check out the video, Out of this world water conservation, that the Douglas County Water Resource Authority put together as part of their “Water Ambassadors” education program. Thanks to Mark Shively for the link.

More education coverage here.

Western Resource Advocates: ‘New House New Paradigm — A Model for How to Plan, Build, and Live Water-smart’

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A colleague at the office sent this link to a new report from Western Resource Advocates titled “New House New Paradigm — A Model for How to Plan, Build, and Live Water-smart.” The Stapleton development at the old Denver airport is featured along with a new project (Sterling Ranch) that will take advantage of legislation passed last year that allows 10 pilot projects for utilizing rainwater catchments (H.B. 09-1129). From the WRA release:

The Intermountain West is the driest region of the United States, and it is also the region that experienced the most explosive growth over the past decade. Though many western rivers already have more claims upon their flows than there is water flowing in them, the pace of development continues unabated. In the report New House, New Paradigm, Western Resource Advocates provides an innovative take on how new housing development should proceed: water conservation and efficiency must be built-in to the process of planning, building, and living in new communities in the West.

Water conservation is not new to the West. What is new is a coordinated effort throughout the development process to create and inhabit communities that are designed to abide with the region’s lack of water. A number of community developments have already taken this approach and their success serves as a model for future development. New House, New Paradigm shows why their approach is succeeding and how other planned developments can learn from these models.

New House, New Paradigm executive summary (0.4MB .pdf file)
New House, New Paradigm full report (3MB .pdf file)

More conservation coverage here.

EPA to Hold Public Listening Sessions on Potential Stormwater Rule

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Here’s the release from the Environmental Protection Agency:

Release date: 01/05/2010

Contact Information: Enesta Jones (MEDIA ONLY), Jones.enesta@epa.gov, 202-564-7873, 202-564-4355, Jonathan Angier (PUBLIC INQUIRIES), angier.Jonathan@epa.gov, 202-564-0729

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold five listening sessions to provide information to the public about a potential rule to strengthen stormwater regulations and to establish a comprehensive program to reduce stormwater from new development and redevelopment. These potential regulations would help to reduce stormwater discharges that can harm water quality into nearby waterways.

EPA seeks input on the following preliminary regulatory considerations: expand the area subject to federal stormwater regulations; establish specific requirements to control stormwater discharges from new development and redevelopment; develop a single set of consistent stormwater requirements for all municipal separate storm sewer systems; require those sewer systems to address stormwater discharges in areas of existing development through retrofitting the sewer system or drainage area with improved stormwater control measures; and explore specific stormwater provisions to protect sensitive areas.

The sessions will be held:

January 19, 2010, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at EPA Region 5 Office, 77 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago
January 20, 2010, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at EPA Region 9 Office, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, Calif.
January 25, 2010, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at EPA Region 8 Office, 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver, Colo. [ed. emphasis mine]
January 26, 2010, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at EPA Region 6 Office, 1445 Ross Avenue, Suite 1200 Dallas, Texas
January 28, 2010, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at EPA HQ Office, Ariel Rios Building, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

The public can register by going to the Web site below. EPA will accept written comments on the preliminary rulemaking considerations until February 26, 2010.

More information on listening sessions, the potential rule and instructions for submitting written comments: http://www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/rulemaking

More stormwater coverage here.

Palmer Lake raises water rates

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From The Tri-Lakes Tribune (Lisa Collacott):

On Dec. 3, the Palmer Lake Town council voted to increase water rates beginning in January. The basic rate will increase from $33.53 to $40.07. The increase is needed to fund the new water plant. There will be an $11.51 increase per tap per month. An additional $6.54 will be added to maintain a three-month reserve. The state has required the Town of Palmer Lake to create an emergency fund with the $6.54 that is collected. At the end of 2010 the $6.54 will be taken off the bill. The $11.51 will stay until the loan is paid off, which will be in 20 years.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Snowpack news

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Precipitation for 2009 totaled 15.83 inches at the Pueblo airport, where official records are measured by the National Weather Service. It was the wettest year since 1990, but not even close to the 23 inches that fell in 1957…

Snowpack, which supplies most of the area’s water, is a different story, however. After a strong start in October and November, the moisture in the snowpack has dwindled to just 89 percent in the Arkansas Valley and 83 percent statewide, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (pdf). Early snowfall totals mean little to the eventual water availability, because it accounts for only about 25 percent of the season total at most sites. The heaviest snowfall usually occurs in March and April. In the Colorado River basin, which supplies water imported to the Arkansas River basin, snowfall is only 80 percent of average…

The Arkansas River is flowing strongly above Lake Pueblo largely because of water being moved from Turquoise and Twin Lakes into Lake Pueblo in anticipation of bringing over water through transmountain tunnels in late springtime. At Wellsville, the river’s flow was 560 cubic feet per second and nearly half of that is Fry-Ark Project water. Vaughan is expecting Lake Pueblo to fill this spring as water is moved, winter water is stored and Colorado Springs maintains its account through exchanges. That could mean some water stored in excess-capacity accounts could spill. Aurora’s account would be the first to spill.

Reclamation is working to relieve the pressure on storage space, however. Irrigators were told in October there is little chance the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District would approve carry-over from winter water this year, meaning the remaining water stored in 2009 has to be out of the reservoir by May 1…

Through Pueblo, more water is coming into the river via Fountain Creek than from Pueblo Dam. The flow management program, set up under 2004 intergovernmental agreements, maintains 100 cfs through the city, with about one-third of that coming through the fish hatchery. Meanwhile, Fountain Creek was discharging 136 cfs – almost three times the median average – that is largely effluent from Colorado Springs and other urban areas in El Paso County. Under court decrees, Colorado Springs stores water in Lake Pueblo against its Fountain Creek return flows as a way to reuse transmountain and fully consumable native water.

From 9News.com (Bazi Kanani):

…Boulder has had twice as much snow as usual so far this winter. In Denver, we’re a foot above average. The cause is El Nino: warmer temperatures in the Pacific Ocean that affect weather patterns around the world. “If this is a typical El Nino year we should expect a dryer period mid-winter, January and February,” [Matt Kelsch] said…In most places west of the Divide, snow pack levels are a bit below average. It’s not been a bad year in that regard, but they would certainly like to see a little more snow in those areas.