Energy policy — hydroelectric: ‘Big Dam Party’ to celebrate 100 years of power generation at the Barker Meadow Dam — August 4

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From the Boulder Daily Camera (Laura Snider):

…the Boulder History Museum has organized a “Big Dam Party” at the dam Wednesday to celebrate its importance — creating with the power it creates and the water it stores — to the city of Boulder. “It’s going to be very casual and informal. We’re just encouraging people to bring their own beverages, food, chairs and blankets,” said Bob Yates, president of the museum’s Board of Trustees. “Really, it’s just a good excuse for a party.” Like many dams being built at the time, the Barker Dam — which helped electrify Boulder, Denver and the nearby mining boomtowns — was built specifically to run a hydroelectric plant. In the early 1900s, hydropower accounted for more than 40 percent of all the electricity produced in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

In the 1940s, hydropower provided about 75 percent of all power in the West, but only one-third of the power in the country. Today, hydropower provides 6 percent of the electricity consumed in the United States.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Runoff news: Colorado River drops to its lowest levels in 5 years

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The experts kept telling us that this would be a below average year for streamflow. The unexpectedly quick runoff season and quick filling of most storage vessels seemed to belie their experience and judgment. Well streams are dropping across Colorado. Here’s a report from NBC11News.com. From the article:

In early June, the mighty Colorado River crested at 12 feet, making for a rough and dangerous ride, for rafters. Now forecasters say the water has dipped to the shallowest level in five years…

“We have not had great deal of rainfall here in the Colorado basin, so the river level dropped quite a bit. Right now it’s running below average for this time of year,” says Chris Cuoco, of the National Weather Service.

Here’s the link to the Colorado River gage near Kremmling, running at 853 cfs this morning.

July 31, 1976 Big Thompson flash flood remembered

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From 9News.com (Chris Gallegos):

The sun began to set on the bittersweet crowd as one by one, five candles were lit to commemorate the five people that were never found in the flood’s aftermath: Evelyn Kindred, 62; Vernon Oler, 51; George McCarty, 20; Teresa Graham, 10 and Rochelle Rogers, 2.

The United Nations declares that safe and clean drinking water is a human right

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From the UN News Center:

Studies indicate that an absence of clean water or sanitation exacts a huge human toll. About 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year and 443 million school days are lost because of water- and sanitation-related diseases. “With almost a billion people suffering from lack of access to an improved water source, and 2.6 billion without access to improved sanitation, recognition of the human right to water and sanitation is a positive signal from the international community and shows its commitment to tackle these issues,” Ms. de Albuquerque said.

On Wednesday 122 members of the General Assembly voted in favour of the resolution declaring water and sanitation to be a human right. No countries voted against the text but 41 Member States abstained.

More coverage from the Environment News Service. From the article:

Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights, the United Nations General Assembly declared Wednesday, voting to expand the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to include the right to clean water and sanitation. The 192-member Assembly called on United Nations member states and international organizations to offer funding, technology and other resources to help poorer countries scale up their efforts to provide clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for everyone. Introduced by Bolivia, the resolution received 122 votes in favor and zero votes against, while 41 countries abstained from voting…

The United States was one of the 41 countries that abstained from voting on this measure – not because the U.S. does not support the universal right to water, but because the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva is working on the issue in a better way, said John Sammis, U.S. deputy representative to the Economic and Social Council. “This resolution describes a right to water and sanitation in a way that is not reflective of existing international law; as there is no “right to water and sanitation” in an international legal sense as described by this resolution,” Sammis said. “The United States regrets that this resolution diverts us from the serious international efforts underway to promote greater coordination and cooperation on water and sanitation issues,” said Sammis. “This resolution attempts to take a short-cut around the serious work of formulating, articulating and upholding universal rights,” he said. “It was not drafted in a transparent, inclusive manner, and the legal implications of a declared right to water have not yet been carefully and fully considered in this body or in Geneva.”

South Platte River Basin: Progressive 15 discusses management of the river

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Here’s a recap of last week’s meeting from Dan Barker writing for The Fort Morgan Times. From the article:

The South Platte Water Cooperative is working on finding ways to use the excess water that goes unused during wet years, said Jim Yahn, who works with the cooperative and is the chairman of the South Platte Water Roundtable. Growers along the South Platte have been doing a lot of recharge to groundwater to replace water that is pumped out of wells, he said…

If farmers enter into agreements to provide leased water, they might have to agree to provisions that they provide water each year, which might mean that in dry years they would not have water for their crops, Yahn said. However, that might not happen often and the payments every year would be a steady supply of cash.

More South Platte Basin coverage here.

Northern Integrated Supply Project: Club 20 endorses NISP

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Here’s the release from the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Brian Werner):

Club 20, Western Colorado’s leading advocacy organization, has endorsed the Northern Integrated Supply Project. Club 20 stated NISP is a project that “appropriately proposes to develop water supply solutions from within the basin of demand.” The water would come from the Cache la Poudre and South Platte rivers.

Club 20 described NISP as “an environmentally sound project and will help contribute to the economic stability of the agricultural economy by preserving the dry-up of 100 square miles of irrigated ag lands.”

“Club 20’s endorsement is a major boost for NISP. They have been the voice of the Western Slope since 1953. Their endorsement shows that NISP not only serves communities on the Front Range, but does it in a way that doesn’t harm the West Slope,” said Kathy Peterson, NISP Participant Committee Chairperson. “We are especially pleased that Club 20 recognized the project’s efficient use of water within Northeastern Colorado.”

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.

Orchard City: Trustees are busy getting ready to spend federal dough for waterline work

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From the Delta County Independent (Hank Lohmeyer):

The $2 million “principal forgiveness loan” for Orchard City’s West Side main transmission line project got three unanimous town board approvals, as expected, during the July 14 trustee meeting. The three separate resolutions adopted by the board were requirements for getting the loan deal closed.

The town had been applying for a $2 million low-interest loan and was surprised to learn three weeks ago that it had qualified for a federal government funded program that converted the loan into a grant. The federal program is administered through the Environmental Protection Agency and utilizes funds from the $787 billion stimulus enacted by Congress last year.

More infrastructure coverage here.