The University of California at Los Angeles develops atmospheric-pressure plasma desalination membranes

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From Inventor Spot (Myra Per-Lee):

… the UCLA membrane is made of a polyamide thin film composite that is activated by atmospheric-pressure plasma, rather than high pressure. The plasma creates active sites on the new membrane where reactions are initiated that create a ‘brush layer’ on the polyamide surface. Because the brush layer is constantly moving, it makes it nearly impossible for impurities to stick to it.
Another aspect of the membrane is that the chemistry of the brush layer can be chosen to repel molecules of an opposite charge, making the membrane extremely adaptable to different water environments. Nancy H. Lin, a UCLA Engineering senior researcher and the study’s lead author, indicated that “The cost of desalination will therefore decrease when we reduce the cost of chemicals [used for membrane cleaning], as well as process operation [for membrane replacement]. Desalination can become more economical and used as a viable alternate water resource.”

More water treatment coverage here.

Water Wise Landscape Seminars

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From email from the Center For Resource Conservation (Jeff Woodward):

The CRC, in partnership with local utilities, is hosting a series of 10 free water-wise landscaping seminars over the next two weeks. The seminars cover a wide range of topics on xeriscaping and sustainable landscaping, and are taught by local experts such as Jim Knopf and Mikl Brawner…

The Center for ReSource Conservation presents….
WaterWise Landscape Seminar Week!

All seminars are FREE and open to the public.

Wednesday, April 7th Introduction to Xeriscaping, Ray Daugherty, Thornton
Monday, April 12th Introduction to Xeriscaping, Curtis Manning Boulder
Tuesday, April 13th Drip Irrigation, Ron Boyd, Longmont
Tuesday, April 13th Tricks of Xeriscaping, Mikl Brawner, Boulder
Wednesday, April 14th Renovating an Existing Landscape with Xeriscape, Bill Melvin, Lafayette
Wednesday, April 14th Permaculture, Zia Parker, Boulder
Thursday, April 15th Edible Xeriscape, Alison Peck, Lafayette
Thursday, April 15th Introduction to Xeriscape, Julie Hauser, Louisville
Saturday, April 17th Xeriscaping on a Budget, Jim Knopf, Longmont
Saturday, April 17th WaterWise Landscape Renovation, Alison Peck, Westminster

For more information and to register, please visit

The Water-Wise Landscape Seminars are offered in partnership with the cities of Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette, Louisville, Thornton and Westminster.

More conservation coverage here.

Aspinall Unit update

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From email from Reclamation (Dan Crabtree):

The Gunnison Tunnel continues to increase irrigation diversions from the Gunnison River and generally Crystal releases have been increased to satisfy this demand while maintaining flows in the Gunnison Gorge and Black Canyon in the 600 cfs range. The April 1st forecast from the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center is 560,000 ac-ft of unregulated inflow to Blue Mesa Reservoir during the April through July runoff period. This is down 10,000 ac-ft from the March mid-month forecast. If this forecast holds to May 1st , the Black Canyon water right one day spring peak target is about 3,900 cfs.

Don’t forget to put the Aspinall Operations meeting on your calendar for 1:00 p.m., April 22nd , to be held in Reclamation’s Western Colorado Area Office – Grand Junction, 2764 Compass Drive, Suite 106. We’ll be discussing spring operations and other Gunnison River basin water related activities The public is welcome.

Please contact Dan Crabtree ( with questions or suggested agenda items.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

Snowpack news

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From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

The overall snowpack for the Roaring Fork basin was 93 percent of average Monday, compared to 88 percent of average in the state as a whole, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

The Roaring Fork basin has benefited from storms in late March and early April. The conservation service measures snowpack at seven automated sites in the basin. The Independence site east of Aspen is 92 percent of average. Snowpacks were higher at sites in the Crystal Valley and lower in the Fryingpan Valley, both parts of the Roaring Fork basin. In the Crystal, Schofield Pass had a snowpack at 97 percent of average. McClure Pass was at 102 percent of average, and North Lost Trail, near Marble, was at 95 percent of average. In the Fryingpan Valley, Ivanhoe was at 94 percent; Kiln was at only 79 percent, and Nast was at 75 percent…

The average reservoir storage is above average in the state, so that will alleviate the low runoff.

From The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh):

In the Animas/San Juan/ Dolores basin, the snowpack was 101 percent of its April 1 average and 116 percent compared with April 1 last year. In the Gunnison, Colorado, South Platte, North Platte and Yampa/White basins, snowpacks ranged from 73 to 94 percent of average April 1 and from 70 to 97 percent of last year’s snowpack on the same date. Statewide, the snowpack was 88 percent of average April 1 and 92 percent compared with last year…

The Arkansas and Rio Grande basins had the most snow compared with normal, the NRCS said. The Arkansas basin has 109 percent of its average April 1 snowpack and 113 percent of last year’s total. The corresponding averages for the Rio Grande basin were 115 and 119 percent…

Reservoir storage continues to be near average, however, with the state overall at 106 percent of the April 1 average and 103 percent of last year’s amount. The Animas/ San Juan/Dolores basin had the lowest reservoir storage, 87 percent of average and 81 percent of last year.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

Statewide, the April 1 snowpack was at 88 percent of average, unchanged from a month earlier. The Colorado River Basin is at only 76 percent of average, the agency said…

The conservation service estimates that there’s only a 10 percent chance of the state still reaching a near-average snowpack this season. “It would take a pretty dramatic storm series to really make even much of a dent in this. It can happen and it has in the past a few times but at this point it’s not looking promising,” [Colorado snow survey supervisor, Mike Gillespie] said…

Statewide reservoir storage is 106 percent of average. It’s 111 percent in the Colorado basin.

From CBS4Denver:

The snowpack was about 90 percent of average statewide as of Monday, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. That was up slightly from 88 percent on April 1. However, reservoir storage was at about 106 percent of average.

From The Mountain Mail (Sue Price):

While statewide snowpack levels remain at 88 percent of average, the Arkansas River Basin made up for past deficits by increasing to 109 percent of average. The April 1 survey by the Natural Resources Conservation Service shows “remarkably little change in percentages statewide,” Mike Gillespie, snow survey supervisor, said. “The greatest increase this month was in the Arkansas River basin – from 95 percent of average March 1 to 109 percent of average April 1,” he said. As far as Arkansas River flow projection, Gillespie said it “won’t be that much different” from last year. In 2009, river flow was slightly above average at 108 percent…

Porphyry Creek, near Monarch Pass, continued its steady build-up to 99 percent of average. Fremont Pass decreased from 80 percent to 74 percent of average while Brumley stayed high at 103 percent. “Next door, in the Rio Grande basin, they improved a bit also,” Gillespie said. The Upper Rio Grande, now reporting the highest percentage in the state, increased from 109 percent last month to 115 percent April 1.

Flaming Gorge pipeline: Drew Peternell — ‘It’s time to stick a fork in it’

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Here’s an opinion piece listing some of the reasons that should keep the project from moving forward, from Colorado Trout Unlimited’s Drew Peternell running in the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

> Exorbitant cost. Million recently released a list of potential project customers. Almost all are irrigators. According to a recent analysis by Western Resource Advocates, the value of irrigation water in eastern Colorado is less than $100 per acre-foot. By comparison, water from the $3 billion pipeline would cost an estimated $2,200 per acre-foot. There’s not an agricultural operation in the state that could afford Million’s water, and few municipalities have expressed interest in the project. The economics don’t add up, and it appears Million is engaging in water speculation, which is illegal according to Colorado law…

> Environmental impacts. Million has said that if the pipeline proposal has adverse environmental impacts, he’ll be the first to “stick a fork in it.” It’s time to stick a fork in it…The pipeline itself would cut across and degrade sensitive wildlife habitat, such as Wyoming’s spectacular Little Mountain area, renowned for its trophy elk and native cutthroat trout populations. And it could spread invasive aquatic species – such as zebra mussels and burbot – to Wyoming and Colorado waters…

> Economic fallout. The pipeline could inflict an economic double whammy on the region. Communities in Utah and Wyoming that depend heavily on tourism and recreation dollars associated with Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the Green River could see their economic livelihood dry up. But the other shoe would eventually fall in Colorado, too, when water users in Colorado find that Million’s go-for-broke pipeline has used Colorado’s last remaining allocation of water under the Colorado River Compact, effectively shutting off the tap on other municipal water development projects on both sides of the Continental Divide…

> Missed opportunities. With their enormous economic and environmental costs, big dams and pipelines are water-supply solutions of the past. The West is entering a challenging new era of water scarcity and limits, one that requires a new spirit of cooperation, pragmatism and innovation. We have cost-effective and common-sense water solutions available to us, such as voluntary leasing arrangements with irrigators, aquifer recharge, water reuse and municipal conservation.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.