Metro Denver area reuse and wastewater projects update

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

The projects are driven by scarcity — the growing difficulty of drawing sufficient new supplies from mountain snowpack — and by rapid depletion of groundwater wells that some metro residents rely on. Water providers say they also increasingly are detecting new contaminants, such as pharmaceutical residues from birth-control pills, cosmetics and antidepressants, that they anticipate might have to be removed. “We’re preparing for the future. There’s still expected to be a lot of growth along Colorado’s Front Range. That’s what these plants are for,” said Steve Witter, water resources manager for the Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority…

At the end of June, Arapahoe County and Cottonwood water authorities activated a $30 million purification plant serving residents of the southeastern metro area. Many now receive water purified using membrane and reverse-osmosis filtering, chemicals (hydrogen peroxide and chlorine) and ultraviolet light…

This fall, Aurora’s $659 million “prairie waters” system is expected to start treating South Platte River water that otherwise would not be diverted. Aurora raised water prices (bills now average $75, up from $35), tripled tap fees and issued $450 million in bonds to pay for the project…

Parker water authorities are developing a large reservoir and are hunting for water to fill it and also designing a $50 million treatment plant, said Jim Nikkel, assistant manager of the Parker Water and Sanitation District. The plant will filter up to 10 million gallons a day, he said, and will be useful in shifting away from reliance on wells.

East Cherry Creek Valley water authorities are planning a $30 million treatment plant, using reverse-osmosis and ultraviolet methods, to sustain their 50,000 metro-area customers.

More reuse coverage here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: The Environmental Protection Agency is holding a hearing in Denver to gather information on hydraulic fracturing

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From email from the San Juan Citizens Alliance

The EPA will be conducting a study on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and its potential impacts on drinking water. In designing the scope of the study, the EPA is soliciting public comments on its draft study plan. EPA will solicit these comments at a public hearing.

6-10 p.m., July 13,
Marriott Tech Center’s Rocky Mountain
Events Center Denver
(4900 S. Syracuse Street, Denver, CO)

Staff and members of the San Juan Citizens Alliance will be attending the Denver public hearing to urge the EPA to develop a comprehensive study plan. If you are interested in going to this hearing to speak, please contact Josh Joswick 970-259-3583.

Written comments may be submitted to EPA:

Jill Dean, Office of groundwater and drinking water
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Mailcode 4606M
Washington, DC 20460
phone: 202-564-8241

submit electronic comments to EPA:

For more information on the meeting:

More oil and gas coverage here.

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District settles with the state over new ag rules in the Arkansas Valley

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A 14-day trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 16, but in many water cases, many of the provisions that would be argued in court are settled through stipulations. Many of the objections, called statements of opposition, are filed to monitor the case, protect water rights or conditions that have been previously worked out.

State Engineer Dick Wolfe and Division Engineer Steve Witte hosted meetings in 2008-09 with many of those who would be affected by the rules, altering them along the way with suggestions made during the meetings. The rules are meant to protect Colorado from future litigation by Kansas over the Arkansas River Compact. The rules prevent increased consumptive use through irrigation efficiency improvements like sprinklers, drip systems and canal linings.

Southeastern is the first to reach a stipulation, which also has led to a draft proposed decree in the case. The stipulation preserves the proper use of Fryingpan-Arkansas Project flows, winter water storage and compliance with U.S. Supreme Court decisions on the compact…

Ditch companies and some landowners are still not happy with the rules, and filed in protest of them. They include the Fort Lyon, Catlin, Amity, District 67 ditches, Beaver Park Water in Penrose, Smith Mutual Ditch in Lamar and the Arkansas Valley Ditch Association. Other individuals and lateral groups also protested. “The proposed rules are unconstitutional, contrary to law, vague, arbitrary, capricious and not reasonable,” wrote Carolyn Burr, attorney for the Catlin Canal.

More Ark Valley Consumptive Use Rules coverage here and here.

Castle Rock: Water Wiser workshops

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From The Douglas County News Press (Rhonda Moore):

Castle Rock offers Water Wiser workshops for free, courtesy of the utilities department. Participants learn irrigation tips, sprinkler system management and how to tap into the town’s water conservation resources. What they walk away with is a greater awareness of fundamental water-saving measures and a window sticker identifying them as a participant.

The sticker is the key to grant participants a waiver from the town’s three-day-per-week watering restrictions.

The town takes a proactive stance when it comes to water conservation, and part of its effort includes watering restrictions between May and August each year. The restrictions limit landscape watering to every three days for Castle Rock residents…

While the town aims for a zero penalty community for watering infractions, the penalty-financed rebates include the popular rebate for high efficiency washing machines and a rebate for replacing turf with drought-tolerant landscaping.

Of the several rebates available for water saving measures, all are exhausted for 2010 except the rebate for Smartscape renovation. The Smartscape rebate reimburses residents who replace their turf with water wise landscapes at a rate of $1 per square foot.

Department personnel rely on drive-by inspections and neighborhood watches to ensure residents are watering within their schedule, said Rick Schultz, water conservation specialist for the town’s utilities department. Those inspections are a thing of the past for Water Wiser participants.

“The main goal is to open people’s eyes to the common sense of irrigation and the common sense of managing your sprinkler,” Schultz said. “As a benefit we’ll exempt them from every third day watering schedule. By taking them off that schedule they have the flexibility to say, ‘it’s my watering day but it’s going to rain so I’m not going to water,’ and wait for another day.”

More conservation coverage here.