The Town of Berthoud is fighting the good fight against taste and odor complaints

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From the Longmont Times Call:

This year, however, the story is somewhat different. The first part starts out the same: stinking water and public complaints. But this year the town has gotten serious about trying to solve the problem. It has hired water experts to advise the community. Activated carbon is being added to the water at a different point in the treatment process in hopes of clearing the taste and eliminating the smell.

It has negotiated a deal to bring in treated water from deep, cold Carter Lake via the Little Thompson Water District water system. For a little over a week now, 230 gallons a minute of treated water is making its way to Berthoud to serve about a fourth of the community demand. Some are talking about whether the Carter Lake plant can produce enough to supply the entire town. Given that water systems throughout the region are at peak demand right now, Berthoud should know shortly whether that’s a potential solution.

More South Platte River Basin coverage here and here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: Aspen Institute’s Environmental Forum Tuesday recap

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From the Aspen Daily News (Brent Gardner-Smith):

It takes about 4 million gallons of water to develop a natural gas well using the technique known as hydraulic fracturing. And the “fracking” process, which is commonly used in Garfield County, also requires that about 6,000 gallons of undisclosed chemicals be injected into a typical well to help break up underground rock formations. Those estimates are from Marianne Lavelle, a senior editor on energy issues for National Geographic Digital Media, who spoke Tuesday at the Aspen Environment Forum.

Lavelle said about 80 percent of the water used in the fracking process stays deep underground. But the rest of the toxic watery mix comes back up to the surface and is often stored in earthen pits lined with black plastic. “It now has not only chemicals, but a lot of salt and a lot of minerals,” Lavelle said of the water, which is called “fracking water” or “produced water” in the gas industry. And Lavelle said it is a big challenge for the industry to dispose of the produced water.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Summit County, Keystone Resort and Denver Water ink agreement for snowmaking supply

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From the Summit Daily News (Julie Sutor):

The resort relies on water from the Roberts Tunnel, owned by Denver Water, to blanket its slopes in white every year through early-season snowmaking. Keystone is allowed to pump as much as 1,500 acre feet from the tunnel between Sept. 1 and March 31 each winter. Denver Water needs to make repairs on the Roberts Tunnel, which draws about 54,000 acre feet per year from Dillon Reservoir to supply municipal water to the Denver Metro Area. The tunnel is 50 years old and requires valve replacements at its east end — a project that must be performed while the tunnel is drained, thus rendering water unavailable for Keystone during construction. The repairs were originally scheduled to begin on Nov. 1 and last throughout the winter until April 4, 2011. “That would impact an entire season of Keystone’s snowmaking, which is essential to guarantee good snow by the holidays,” Summit County manager Gary Martinez said…

So Keystone and Summit County have negotiated a deal through which the resort will pay Denver Water $120,000 to postpone work on the Roberts Tunnel until Dec. 16. The delay will allow Keystone to draw water through Dec. 15. Denver Water is still planning to finish construction by April 4, 2011, in time to capture spring runoff and fill reservoirs with water for summer use. The Keystone funds will cover the added costs of completing the project on a tighter timeline. In the event that construction isn’t done by the April deadline, and Denver Water loses the opportunity to store spring runoff, both Summit County and Keystone will make up for the deficits with water from Clinton Reservoir and Dillon Reservoir for up to three years. “This is an example of the county putting our water portfolio to good use. It would be really tough for our revenue budget to have Keystone fall flat because of an inability to make snow,” Martinez said.

More Summit County coverage here and here.

NIDIS Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment Summary of the Upper Colorado River Basin

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Here are Henry Reges’ notes from Tuesday’s webinar. From the notes:

Much of the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) has only received about 50% of its normal  precipitation for the month. Areas which have seen the best precipitation are in the San Juan basin (around  the  4-­‐corners) and in the Yampa-­‐White basin. Most of the precipitation in the San Juan basin for the month fell as a result of monsoonal moisture over the past week, with some stations recording nearly an inch of rain or more. Also seeing good amounts of precipitation over the past week were the  Dolores and Gunnison basins.

U.S. Drought Monitor update

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The southwest monsoon surged into most of the Southwest, dumping 2 to 4 inches of rain on southwestern Texas, most of New Mexico, east-central Arizona, and southern Colorado, reducing or eliminating short-term dryness (D0A) and trimming away D1 where over 2 inches fell. In southern Colorado, however, even though 1 to 2.5 inches fell, it was not enough to overcome accumulated short and medium-term deficits, and D0 remained. In contrast, the monsoon has failed to reach into western and northern Arizona and southern sections of Nevada and Utah. This region doesn’t receive a lot of monsoonal rain (normally 1 to 2 inches in July), but gets enough to support the growth of summer grasses. With the lack of rain and reports of very poor pasture and range conditions, D1 was expanded across much of northern Arizona. Abnormal dryness was slightly extended into southern Utah, southern Nevada, and western Arizona. Last week’s D2 in northeastern Arizona was repositioned northwestward to better represent the area with reports of lingering long-term drought impacts and minimal summer rains (northern Navajo and northeastern Coconino counties).

2010 Colorado Elections: John Suthers makes a stop in Frisco

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From the Summit Daily News (Julie Sutor):

Suthers … said Colorado’s water resources are a big priority in his office. “We’ve done a very good job protecting Colorado’s water interests. These fights go on forever, and we need to be diligent in making sure those interests are protected in the future,” he said.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

Reclamation has $12.8 million for ‘WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants’

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Here’s the release from Reclamation (Peter Soeth):

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor announced today the selection of 37 WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow) Grants that will use $12.8 million in federal funding to construct projects that seek to save water, increase energy efficiency and improve environmental conditions while addressing water demands in the West.

“Reclamation is taking a step forward to improve conservation and more efficient use of water and energy in the West,” Commissioner Connor said. “Our nation faces many water related challenges including drought, climate change, energy demands, expanding populations and increased environmental needs. With the money from these grants, project sponsors will accomplish important water conservation and energy efficiency improvements that will help to address those challenges and progress toward more sustainable water supplies.”

Through these new WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grant projects, federal funding will be leveraged to complete more than $54 million in water management and delivery improvements. These projects will improve water management, increase energy efficiency in the delivery of water, facilitate water marketing projects, protect endangered and threatened species, and carry out other activities to address climate-related impacts on water or prevent water-related crisis and conflict.

WaterSMART Grant projects funded this year will contribute to the Secretary of the Interior’s High Priority Performance Goal for Water Conservation. Under the goal, the Department seeks to enable capability to increase available water supply up to 350,000 acre-feet by 2012. Based on the information submitted by applicants, Reclamation estimates that the 37 projects announced today will result in more than 130,000 acre-feet of conserved water each year once construction has been completed. Adjustments to that projection will be made, if necessary, as Reclamation and project sponsors develop financial assistance agreements for each project.

A number of projects will address the connection between water use and energy use. For example, the Laguna Madre Water District in Port Isabel, Texas will make improvements to its non-potable water system, including installation of an energy recovery turbine to create an expected 17,520 kilowatt-hours per year of electricity from wastewater flows. Other projects expect to save energy through water conservation. The Lower Colorado River Authority in Texas will automate 11 check gate structures, expected to result in 2,560 acre-feet of water savings annually. The Authority estimates that completion of the project will decrease pumping needs and reduce energy consumption by approximately 132,000 kilowatt-hours per year.

Other projects are expected to make contributions to environmental restoration by conserving water or making other improvements that benefit endangered or threatened species. For example, the Three Sisters Irrigation District in Oregon, will provide water saved through pipeline construction to the Deschutes River Conservancy for a protected instream right, complementing habitat restoration efforts in Whychus Creek for threatened species, including bull trout, red band trout, summer steelhead, and Chinook. In Clallam County, Washington, the Agnew Irrigation District expects to save 658 acre-feet of water annually by converting open irrigation ditches to pipe. Conserved water will remain in the Dungeness River during the period most critical to fish, benefiting the Puget Sound chinook, Hood Canal summer chum, bull trout and Puget Sound steelhead.

The District will also work with the Washington Water Trust to facilitate the launch of the Dungeness Water Exchange, which is intended to restore in-stream flows during critical low water periods. In California, the Los Molinos Mutual Water Company will undertake water management improvements with expected savings of approximately 3,000 acre-feet of water annually. Conserved water will remain in Mill Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River, to benefit chinook salmon and steelhead migration.

Proposals were received from water districts, municipalities and native American Tribes across the West. This year Reclamation received 197 applications, with requests for more than $84 million in federal funding. Projects were ranked through a published set of criteria in which points were awarded for those projects that incorporate renewable energy or address the water-energy nexus, address Endangered Species Act concerns, contribute to water supply sustainability, or incorporate water marketing and banking.

WaterSMART Grants include three other grant categories this year in addition to the Water and Energy Efficiency Grants announced today. Next month, Reclamation plans to announce selections for System Optimization Reviews, Pilot and Demonstration Projects for Advanced Water Treatment, and Research Grants to Develop Climate Analysis Tools.

For more information on the WaterSMART program, visit

More conservation coverage here.