U.S. Bureau of Reclamation ‘WateSMART’ program updates

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

Reclamation Selects Research Grants to Develop Climate Analysis Tools through WaterSMART Program

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor announced the selection of $773,483 in research grant proposals to develop climate analysis tools. This money will be leveraged to fund $1,624,396 in climate change research.

“The science is quite clear that climate change will add to the challenges we face today in managing our water supply, water quality, flood risks, wastewater, aquatic ecosystems, and energy production,” said Commissioner Connor. “Improving our knowledge about how climate change will impact water resources in the west will improve our ability to manage water into the future.”

The research grants to develop climate analysis tools are new this year. This grant program was developed to fund research projects that will lead to enhanced management of western water resources in a changing climate. It was open to universities and non-profit research institutions as well as organizations with water or power delivery authority.

Five grants selected this year for funding. Those scheduled to receive grants are:

Climate Central, Inc., a non-profit, collaborative group of scientists will receive $200,000 in Reclamation funding with a total project cost of $400,000. They will create a comprehensive and new historical climate data set for the western United States. The project will also create an associated set of downscaled projections of future climate for the region in a complementary manner to temperature and precipitation projections currently in existence by including descriptions of solar radiation and wind speed, for example.

The University of Colorado Regents, through the Center for Advanced Decision Support for Water and Environmental Services, will receive $150,000 in Reclamation funding with a total project cost of $372,418. They will develop a set of tools to facilitate robust water management decision-making. The project will add new capabilities to RiverWare, an existing water management tool, so that adaptation strategies can be evaluated to reduce the risk and impacts associated with climate change to future water systems operations.

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board and the Oklahoma Climatological Survey will receive $84,647 in Reclamation funding for a total project cost of $174,293. They will provide practical methodologies and tools to assist with the incorporation of climate change impacts into water resources planning efforts within the State of Oklahoma and beyond. It will explore multiple methods for translating climate projections into estimates of water supply availability through explicit and implicit hydrological modeling.
Dr. Bridget R. Scanlon of the University of Texas at Austin – Bureau of Economic Geology -will receive $199,999 in Reclamation funding with a total project cost of $399,999. The University of Texas will study the impacts of past droughts and potential future droughts with the geographic area of the High Plains aquifer. It will explore the relationship between the climate of the 20th Century, the High Plains Aquifer, and the droughts of the 1930’s and 1950’s.

The Arizona Board of Regents through the University of Arizona will receive $138,837 in Reclamation funding with a total project cost of $277,686. This project will study the impacts of climate change and climate variability on the water demand of growing cities as demands are compounded by the “urban heat island” effect, which is an increase in temperatures relative to the surrounding environment resulting from the infrastructure in urban environments.

WaterSMART is a program of the U.S. Department of the Interior that focuses on improving water conservation and sustainability, and helping water-resource managers make sound decisions about water use. It identifies strategies to ensure that this and future generations will have sufficient supplies of clean water for drinking, economic activities, recreation, and ecosystem health. The Program also identifies adaptive measures to address climate change and its impact on future water demands.

More Reclamation coverage here.

Denver: Green sludge coming out of storm sewer and flowing to the South Platte River near Globeville Landing is algae from City Park lake

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From 9News.com:

9NEWS received multiple newstips from hikers and bicyclists near Globeville Landing Park wondering about the green substance, which flowed from a box culvert near 38th St. and Arkins Ct. in Central Denver…

Denver Wastewater employee Al Ortiz said his crew had to pull about 30 manhole covers along the storm drain line to determine the origin of the green substance. Ortiz was unaware whether anyone from Denver Parks and Recreation had notified his division about the draining of the lake.

More water pollution coverage here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: COGCC commission issues record fine in tainted spring case near Parachute

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

State regulators Thursday unanimously signed off on a record $423,300 fine against Williams for benzene contamination of a spring that led to a man becoming ill in 2008…

The previous record fine by the commission was $390,000, imposed in April against Oxy USA for another case of spring contamination, also northwest of Parachute.

The same day, the commission levied another fine of $257,400 against Oxy for yet another case of spring contamination in the same area.

The state is investigating Oxy as the possible source of contamination of a second spring on the Prather property, although the Prather family has sued another company, Nonsuch, contending it’s to blame in that case. The Prathers also have sued Williams in connection with the first case.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Wiggins: Water Court application update

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From The Fort Morgan Times (Dan Barker):

Wiggins officials had expected to hear from the USDA by now about the letter of conditions which would allow the project to begin, but that has not happened, said Wiggins Town Administrator Bill Rogers during Wednesday`s meeting of the Wiggins Town Council. Now it seems like it will be the end of September before that will happen, said Tim Holbrook of Industrial Facilities Engineering, which is organizing the project. He is working on exhibits for easements for the pipeline for the USDA officials, he said…

Wiggins could probably begin construction on the project and start receiving water next spring, and it would be good to begin with the augmentation ponds on the property from which the town bought the water shares as soon as possible, Kuntz said. That would make it easier to get a temporary water supply plan. [water attorney Rick Fendel] said that legal fees will exceed $100,000, but it is difficult to say by how much. That is partly determined by how long Wiggins has to wrangle with other water users, although sometimes these cases are pretty clean and easy, Kuntz said. There is very little chance the overall plan will be rejected by the water court, Fendel said. Costs of Kuntz` engineering will probably cost about $10,000, he said. Since the court case is just beginning, and the town has already spent more than half the money originally estimated for the legal fees, how is the town to pay for them, asked council member Karol Kopetzky. The pipeline costs should be less expensive than estimated, since they wee based on $40 a foot and a recent estimate for another project came in at $26 a foot, Rogers said. Also, contingency funds should be built into the USDA loan, he said.

More Wiggins coverage here and here.

Moffat Collection System Project: What will mitigation look like?

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Here’s a look at the potential impacts of Denver Water’s Moffat Collection System Project from the Grand County point of view, from the Summit County Citizens Voice. Click through to read the whole thing and while you’re there check out the photo essay describing impacts from the current diversion system. From the article:

“We want to protect the resource, which is our economy,” said Grand County Commissioner James Newberry, addressing a small group of journalists during a lunch break on a day-long tour of the diversion system, which already gulps more than half the river’s native flows from the crystal-clear tributaries in the Fraser River Valley. And Newberry made it clear that it’s not only the impacts from the proposed new diversions that are under scrutiny. Before Grand County gives up another drop willingly, Denver Water needs to address cumulative impacts from existing projects. “We have a hole in the river from past diversions,” he said.

More Moffat Collection System Project coverage here.