Conservation: Northern Colorado Water’s Efficiency in Landscaping and Watering seminar Wednesday

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From the Loveland Reporter-Herald:

Northern Colorado Water’s Efficiency in Landscaping and Watering series will continue with a session on using less water and still looking good. The free water seminar will take place 12:30-1:15 p.m. Wednesday at Northern Colorado Water, 220 Water Ave., Berthoud. Reserve a spot at or call 622-2220. Walk-ins are welcome too.

For details, visit

More conservation coverage here.

Colorado State University Professor Developing Anaerobic Digester to Reduce Cost of Waste Disposal, Particularly in Western States

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Here’s the release from Colorado State University:

A Colorado State University professor is developing an anaerobic digester that turns animal waste into methane using much less water than conventional technology, making it more economically feasible and easier for use by feedlots and dairies in Western states.

Anaerobic digesters are often applied at large animal feeding operations elsewhere in the country, largely in the Midwest or on the East Coast, because of the abundance of water resources, said Sybil Sharvelle, assistant professor of civil engineering. High liquid content waste is required by existing technology to enable pumping and mixing of the waste in addition to stimulation of the growth of microorganisms that convert waste into methane.

“In the arid West, you pay for water rights, so water use is very controlled and there’s a financial motivation for producers to conserve water, which is why management practices are different,” Sharvelle said.

Sharvelle and her graduate student, Luke Loetscher, are collaborating with Fort Collins, Colo.-based Stewart Environmental Consultants Inc. and the university’s Agricultural Experiment Stations to evaluate the feasibility of anaerobic digestion at Colorado feeding operations. She has an Extension appointment to help tackle issues related to agricultural waste throughout the state of Colorado.
Stewart Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stewart Environmental Consults in Fort Collins, is working to commercialize the process and has an exclusive option to license the process from the Colorado State University Research Foundation, or CSURF.

Forbes Guthrie, CEO of Stewart Energy, said, “This process addresses a significant and underserved market of energy production from low-moisture biomass. In addition, the process will ultimately help the agricultural community to meet more stringent environmental regulations with regards to both air and water emissions and, at the same time, provide the operations with stable and predictable energy costs for multiple years in advance.”

Sharvelle’s system is unique because it separates the digestion process into two major steps. How it works: Water is trickled over dry waste in a vessel to capture organic materials and convert nearly 60 percent of the solid material into liquid organic acids. The liquid is put into another reactor which is heated to incubate the bacteria living in the digester. These bacteria then convert waste into methane.
That separation of processes also assists Western farming and ranching operations that must contend with rocks and sand in the waste when they scrape it from their lots. These materials are detrimental to operation of conventional anaerobic digestion technology. With Sharvelle’s system, remaining solids from the first step – known as hydrolysis – are separated and can be composted.

“Feedlots are huge and they produce a lot of manure, and the compost they produce is usually more than the area around them has demand for,” Sharvelle said. “Feedlots are often located in areas where there is not a lot of fertile farmland, so they’re ending up with this extra waste material that there’s nothing to do with.”

The methane produced in the digester can then be used as a source of energy to run a generator and used in a natural gas pipeline once byproducts such as carbon dioxide are removed.

Biological processing through anaerobic digestion became common practice with wastewater treatment in the 1960s and 1970s, Sharvelle said.

Sharvelle is based in the College of Engineering. Her research interests include biological waste processing, water reuse and sustainable water and waste management. She also contributes to the CSU Institute for Livestock and Environment with the goal of finding practical, economical solutions to minimize environmental impacts from the livestock industry.

Energy policy — hydroelectric: Governor Ritter Announces Acceleration Of Small Hydro Projects in Colorado

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From The Aspen Times (Aaron Hedge):

It’s too early to tell, however, if that would be a good route for Aspen and its proposed Castle Creek hydroelectric plant, for which the city utilities department plans to seek an exemption from the agency. City spokeswoman Sally Spaulding said the pilot program announced by Gov. Bill Ritter, which would establish a partnership with the federal government, would probably not accommodate the timeline the city is pursuing with the project…

Exemptions are available for projects that would generate five or more megawatts of power or projects that utilize existing pipelines that feed other water usage, such as Aspen’s Thomas Reservoir, which provides residents with drinking water…

Any projects in Ritter’s new program will have to be implemented via existing infrastructure, according to the MOU [between Colorado and FERC]…

City Council indicated earlier this month that it would support the exemption, but asked for more information on how the health of the stream would be maintained after the project is built. David Hornbacher, project director, said the city would conduct yearly studies modeled from a baseline Colorado Division of Wildlife review of the stream after the plant starts operating. The investigation would determine whether the project will damage the stream. The hydropower project would divert 25 cubic feet per second through an existing pipeline from water-intake facilities on Castle and Maroon creeks to Thomas Reservoir. The water would all return to Castle Creek about 300 feet above its confluence with the Roaring Fork River. To qualify for FERC exemption, a hydropower project must allow the water to return to the body it came from or be used again for non-hydropower purposes. Spaulding said that, either way, the water all eventually runs into the Roaring Fork River.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Republican River Basin Water and Drought Portal

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Say hello to the Republican River Basin Water and Drought Portal. From the front page:

Water resources in the Republican River Basin are vital to the sustainability of the life that surrounds them. Not only is it important to the well being of people but it’s also necessary for crop production, animal life, and the hydrological cycle. This portal was created to provide comprehensive information on emerging and ongoing water and drought issues for anyone that has an interest in the Republican River Basin. It will give stakeholders the planning information and tools needed to develop sustainable water strategies as well as information to better prepare for and respond to water shortage and drought.

Thanks to Fox 31 News for the link.

More from the McCook Daily Gazette. From the article:

The river has been a vital lifeline since prehistoric times, providing precious water to a parched prairie since before the region’s earliest European explorers named it in reference to the Kit-ke-hak-i, or Republican Pawnees…

A new website won’t solve the all problems, but should prove to be a valuable resource as the process continues. Created by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources, hosted by the Upper Republican Natural Resources District and created with the help of the Lower, Middle and Tri-Basin Natural Resources Districts, the site is at

More Republican River Basin coverage here and here.