Water and the energy costs associated with consumption

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From the Summit Daily News (Roxane Peyser and Jennifer Schenk):

The water we use for residential and commercial consumption requires the use of enormous quantities of energy. Again, this is different from the more limited notion of thinking about water consumption solely from the perspective of depleting a vital resource. On average, energy used solely for pumping raw water collected from lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers through treatment facilities represents 15 percent of all the energy used in the treatment and distribution process; the remaining 85 percent of the energy used in the process is for distribution to homes, business and industry. This doesn’t even take into account the additional energy required for circulation, filtering and pumping after water is delivered to homes and businesses. When water leaves homes and businesses, it goes through an extensive wastewater treatment process…

Consider that the energy it takes to run a faucet for five minutes is equivalent to the energy used to run a 60-watt light bulb for 14 hours. Additional energy is consumed when we heat and cool the water we use. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, we use more energy to heat the water just in our homes than to light them. Initial and wastewater treatment is 3-4 percent of our national total electricity use, and this is expected to increase 20 percent over the next 15 years…

• Denver water used just over 20,000,000 kWh in 2007 to treat raw water and over 31,000,000 kWh for distribution

• The City of Parker (south metro Denver area) used 24,749,000 kWh of electricity in 2008 in connection with its water treatment process.

Lakes Appreciation Month

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From email from the Colorado Lakes and Reservoir Management Association via Loretta Lohman:

Every year, CLRMA has the Governor sign Colorado ‘ s official Lakes Appreciation Month proclamation and this year is no different. Governor Bill Ritter has again recognized the importance of our lakes and reservoirs throughout the state.

This year will be the biggest celebration yet. Starting with Grand Lake, the annual Buffalo BBQ celebration will be on the lakefront and CLRMA is taking advantage of this classic lake celebration in July to help honor one of Colorado ‘ s most important natural lakes . If you missed the last l ake a ppreciation event up at Grand Lake , make sure you head up on July 16-18 to see the State ‘ s largest natural lake and have a great BBQ experience . Contact Sarah Clements for more details about the weekend events (sarahclements@rkymtn hi.com).

For people farther west , Ridgway Reservoir will be hosting the second annual Lake Appreciation Day on July 17th. Last year’s Lake Appreciation Month event saw record attendance for the park. Contact Sarah Sauter for more information ( sarah@coloradowater.org).

Also on July 17 th , Barr Lake State Park will have their annual shoreline clean up. This year, organizers are having to cap the number of volunteers at 400. Last year , an army of 500+ volunteers showed up to help clean up the reservoir. Volunteers will again collect tires, batteries, and other trash from the shoreline in the morning and then enjoy a free BBQ at 11:30am . Afternoon activities include boat rides with the park ranger, free canoe lessons, fishing poles for kids, and other fun activities for the family. Contact the Barr Lake Nature Center to RSVP or get more details (303) 659-6005.

If you can ‘ t make it to one of these fun lake events, then make sure you get out there some other time in July and enjoy one of your favorite lakes or reservoirs.

Please check out http://www.clrma.org/ for more information.

16 states ban dishwasher soap with more than 0.5% phosphorus

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USA Today (Thanks to Loretta Lohman for the link):

Stores will not be allowed to sell detergent with more than 0.5 percent phosphorous. The bans do not apply to commercial dishwashing products, and detergents for hand-washing dishes generally contain no phosphorus…

States instituting the rule include Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, reports the Associated Press…

“Phosphorous is like a fertilizer. It increases algae and aquatic weed growth in water bodies,” Bernie Duffy, natural resource specialist with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, told the AP. He said too much algae depletes oxygen needed for healthy fish and aquatic life. Sewage treatment plants and private septic systems can remove much but not all of the phosphorous from wastewater, so some of it ends up in lakes, streams and rivers.

More wastewater coverage here.

Moffat System Collection Project: How will the project affect the whitewater season?

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From CBS4Denver.com (Stan Bush):

The expansion plans are raising the anxiety level in other parts of the state. Rafting companies say the Denver Water plan could ruin their business. “It could mean shorter seasons and lower flows,” said Campy Campton, Kodi Rafting Owner. “It could significantly affect what we’re doing and what we’re looking at in terms of water flows on the rivers.”[…]

The rafting companies say the plan would decimate a business that brings millions of dollars into Colorado. “The direct expenditures of $350,000 would be, within the community of Summit County, would be all but gone,” Campton said.

Denver Waters says it will need the water for an expected population boom in the metro area. It says an environmentalist’s assessment of its plan should be finished by 2011. Denver Water says if it doesn’t get more storage capacity it may have to cut off service to $85,000 homes by the year 2030.

More Moffat Collection System Project coverage here.

Snowpack/runoff news

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From the Summit Daily News (Julie Sutor):

“June was so warm and dry that all the snow has left our measurement sites — we are now snow-free,” said Chris Pacheco, assistant snow survey supervisor for NRCS. The timing of the snowpack’s disappearance this year was fairly typical, Pacheco said. But some sites in the northern part of the state near the Wyoming border just melted out last week, a little later than usual.

Reservoir levels in Colorado are in good shape, with many river basins above average for this time of year. Statewide, water storage is at 106 percent of average — slightly below last year’s figure. The Upper Colorado basin, which includes Summit County, has the highest reservoir storage in the state, at 113 percent of average. On July 1, Dillon Reservoir was just more than 100 percent full. The Upper Rio Grande basin has the state’s lowest reservoir storage, at 81 percent of average. All other river basins in the state are hovering slightly above average…

[Klaus Wolter of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Boulder laboratory] is somewhat optimistic about the moisture picture for the next few weeks. But after that, he predicts about three months of dry weather for the Front Range, which has the potential to decrease reservoir levels.

Energy policy — hydroelectric: Proposed Aspen hydroelectric plant update

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From the Aspen Daily News (Curtis Wackerle):

The city of Aspen is about $3.3 million into the Castle Creek hydroelectric project so far, with officials hoping to apply this summer for federal permission to construct the power facility. The project, if granted a “conduit exemption” by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is expected to remain within its $6.19 million budget, Aspen public works director Phil Overeynder said. “The unknown cost is permitting and what it will take to complete the permitting,” Overeynder said.

The conduit exemption would allow the city to bypass the more complex federal licensing process. In deciding whether or not the city qualifies, FERC “puts a high degree of deference” to state agencies which monitor natural resources, such as the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Overeynder said. The DOW has looked at the project, and requested that the city obtain a study to determine minimum baseline water levels in Castle Creek. That study is nearly complete and established a minimum flow of 13.3 cubic feet per second to protect fish and other aquatic life. Once FERC gets the application, Overeynder said he hopes to have a decision within six months, although there is no guaranteed timeframe for a ruling.

The city has spent $632,653 on design of the “energy center,” which would house the turbine; $272,850 on planning; and $99,091 on studies related to the project, according to information provided by the city of Aspen…

The city has budgeted $665,000 for construction of the energy center, including controls inside the building and a pipe to return water to Castle Creek. The turbine itself is expected to cost about $1.4 million, including a pressure-reducing valve, Overeynder said.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.