Summit County: Blue River residents are moving off septic systems and on to the Upper Blue River Sanitation District system

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From the Summit Daily News (Robert Allen):

Sewer service expands into Blue River this month as the town of about 680 residents begins phasing out septic systems. About 100 lots are to have access to sewer service after the first round of construction ends in November…

The sanitation district’s improvements there includes installing a lift station and other equipment for the sewer. Construction is to then proceed south through the Mountain View and Sherwood Forest subdivisions. The district awarded the $800,000 contract to Stan Miller, Inc. Carlberg said the Blue River sewer expansion is to include about 670 lots over the next 10 to 12 years, depending when subdivisions want to connect. Service and connection costs are deferred until people have connected with the system.

In other sanitation news, the district’s $34 million treatment plant expansion at Farmer’s Korner is on track for completion as early as next summer — earlier than a previous projection of December 2011, Carlberg said.

More wastewater coverage here.

Energy policy — geothermal: The Bureau of Land Management is assessing the geothermal energy potential for the San Luis Valley

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

The agency, which administers the federal mineral estate, has started an analysis of what lands should be open to geothermal leasing and what conditions should govern the development, said Joe Vieira, project manager for the valley’s BLM office. There are no outstanding geothermal leases in the region, nor have there been any parcels nominated for leasing, but federal and state officials hope that will change…

Nine areas of the state have been identified as spots with the best potential, including the edges of the San Luis Basin, the Raton Basin west of Trinidad and Mount Princeton near Buena Vista…

The agency is seeking public comment on the kinds of leasing stipulations that should apply and what areas should be off limits to development. Restrictions could include no surface occupancy, controlled surface occupancy or timing limitations, in which developers are barred from any construction activity for a specific time frame. Areas that will be excluded from leasing include the National Park System, congressionally-dedicated wilderness areas and wilderness study areas.

More geothermal coverage here and here.

Summit County: Update on county efforts to thwart invasive species

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From the Summit Daily News (Julie Sutor):

Aquatic nuisance species like zebra mussels, quagga mussels, New Zealand mudsnails and rusty crayfish have thus far not been detected in Summit County’s waters. But they’re practically banging on our door. Populations of the invasive mussels are already established in Pueblo Reservoir and in multiple reservoirs in Grand County. Stopping them from crossing the county border depends on the vigilance of boaters, anglers and others who enjoy the water…

According to [Elizabeth Brown, state invasive species coordinator for the Colorado Division of Wildlife], people can get confused or intimidated by the topic of invasive species, but halting their spread is actually quite simple. “It’s very easy for an everyday person who knows nothing about natural resources biology to stop invasive species just by making sure their boat or ATV doesn’t have any biological material on it. Whether on land or water, it’s the same message: Keep your stuff clean, take nothing with you, and leave nothing behind,” Brown said.

Taking nothing with you includes not picking up plants or animals from one body of water and move them to another. For that matter, don’t take water from one place and move it to another — some species are so small at juvenile stages of development that they’re invisible to the naked eye. And if you’ve become tired of tending your household aquarium, never release species into local habitats…

Both [zebra and quagga] mussels are small barnacle-like mollusks with dark and light stripes. They smother aquatic organisms, such as crayfish and native clams and outcompete for food and aquatic habitat. They damage equipment by attaching to boat motors or hard surfaces and clog water treatment facilities. Once they’re in the water, there’s no way to control them, so prevention is the best — and only — cure. Each female mussel produces about one million eggs a year. From the time the mussels enter a water body, they can completely cover its bottom and begin creeping up the shoreline within a matter of five years…

The rusty crayfish, native to the American Midwest, is Colorado’s newest invasive aquatic species. It was originally spread by anglers who used it as bait. The crustacean has been discovered in the headwaters of Colorado’s Yampa River. “They don’t create the high-dollar cost for water supplies like zebra mussels do, but from an ecological standpoint, they’re pretty horrendous. They have strong impacts to the food web and native fishes,” Brown said.

The Eurasian watermilfoil, a submerged aquatic plant, also appeared recently in the Centennial State. It forms extensive, thick, dense mats that clog water bodies, disrupting fisheries, fostering mosquitos and impairing drinking water.

The New Zealand mudsnail was first detected in Colorado rivers and streams in 2004. The mudsnail invades new habitat when it becomes attached to fishing gear, boats, trailers, fish or bait, and then it comes off in the next stream or river. Mudsnails consume aquatic vegetation, upsetting the balance of the aquatic environment.

More invasive species coverage here.

2010 Colorado elections: Did Scott McInnis plagiarize some of his writings on water?

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A few weeks back there was a bit of controversy over the availability of a series of articles about water that Scott McInnis was paid $300,000 to write by the Hasan Family Foundation. When they became available I read through them, sending my comments to Jason Salzman at I gave McInnis the benefit of the doubt for the content since he had been directed to write at a level that most readers could understand. I questioned some of his facts but in general found that the articles were accurate and interesting. The problem is that McInnis appears to have plagiarized some of the writing. Here’s a report from Karen Crummy writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

Although GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis presented his “Musings on Water” for publication as original works, portions are identical and nearly identical to an essay on water written 20 years earlier by now-Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs. A Clemson University expert who reviewed McInnis’ work next to Hobbs’ essay called it a clear case of plagiarism of both words and ideas…

In at least four of those articles, McInnis’ work mirrors Hobbs’ 1984 essay published by the Colorado Water Congress, “Green Mountain Reservoir: Lock or Key?” In one of his installments of the musings, titled “Pumpbacks and Roundtables,” McInnis uses four full pages that are nearly reprinted verbatim from Hobbs’ earlier work. The justice reviewed examples of his work and McInnis’ essays provided by The Denver Post and released a statement through court spokesman Rob McCallum. “There are definite similarities,” Hobbs said. “I would expect there would be some attribution.”

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

Arkansas Valley Super Ditch update

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“If anyone in this country thinks the cities are not going to try and buy the whole thing, they haven’t been paying attention,” said John Schweizer, Super Ditch president. “This way the farmer gets to keep the water to sell as another crop.” Schweizer disagrees with recent objections raised about the Super Ditch exchange application in Division 2 Water Court that the movement of water will diminish flows in the Arkansas River…

He is concerned not only about Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District hunting for water rights on ditches in the valley, but also last year’s sale of more than one-quarter of the Bessemer Ditch to the Pueblo Board of Water Works. “If Woodmoor, or Pueblo, takes the water, it won’t come back for 100 years. I don’t understand the difference,” Schweizer said. “Why is it all right for them to buy up the Bessemer? The people will take the money, spend it and then they’re gone. If the water stays here, the money will be spent here.”[…]

The High Line Canal’s lease agreement with Aurora in 2004-05 was a demonstration of how a temporary contract can help farmers, Schweizer said. “In 2002, we didn’t have enough water to spit at,” he said. The next three years weren’t much better, but the deal with Aurora allowed farmers to sell the water, while keeping some land in irrigation. Since there are no deals yet for the Super Ditch, no one is sure how much land would be dried up. “We’ve talked about a 35 percent limit, but in a drought year, there’s not enough water. All the High Line lease did was help the farmers by giving them another crop, and the money from it was put back in the valley,” Schweizer said…

Schweizer said the water needs to stay in the Arkansas Valley to retain the ability to grow food locally and is convinced that when the time comes there would be no way to keep cities from taking the water, unless they could merely borrow it.

More Arkansas Valley Super Ditch coverage here and here.