The Forest Service and Water Supply and Storage Company ink the deal for the irrigation company’s Long Draw Reservoir operations

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From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

The decision gives the Water Supply and Storage Co. a 30-year easement for operations at Long Draw Reservoir, near the top of the Poudre Canyon. It requires the company to participate with the U.S. Forest and Park Services in the restoration of native trout populations and the installation of an early warning system to provide around-the-clock monitoring at the dam at the reservoir…

The decision signed Thursday, according to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service, includes a description of the background of the project that includes the Environmental Impact Statement. It will be posted online at

More Poudre River watershed coverage here and here.

Oak Creek: New tank for the distribution system is in the works

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From Steamboat Today (Zach Fridell):

…the town, with a federal grant through the De part ment of Local Affairs, is in the first stages of more than doubling its water supply in a project that could be finished by the end of next year.

The current tank, on the hillside at the top of Bell Avenue, is made of concrete. A project engineer with Nolte Engineering told the Oak Creek Town Board that the tank’s structural integrity is in question. The old 200,000-gallon tank can nearly empty at the highest point of demand. The new tank will be placed near the old tank so both tanks can use the same pump. It will be made of steel and will hold 240,000 gallons.

The new water tank also will help the town better handle other water emergencies. In January, water levels in the tank got down to 20 percent when a pipe froze and burst in downtown Oak Creek.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Stockholm: World Water Week 2010

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World Water Week kicks off today in Stockholm. This year’s theme is The Water Quality Challenge – Prevention, Wise Use and Abatement. Click through for a complete listing of events. Here’s the link for their RSS feed.

Colorado has no water quality challenges unless you consider past mining activities, agricultural runoff, storm runoff from our cities or pharmaceuticals in the water supply and the occasional case of illegal dumping.

Energy policy — nuclear: Proposed Piñon Ridge Mill update

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Here’s a report from Nancy Lofholm writing for The Denver Post. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

One fact is clear: The climate surrounding uranium processing is much different than during the secretive era of the Atomic Energy Commission and the Manhattan Project. Mills then were popping up across the state to fill a frantic need for wartime and Cold War nuclear bombs.

The Piñon Ridge Mill that Energy Fuels Resources Corp. wants to build on 880 acres of the Paradox Valley instead would feed nuclear power plants, fill medicinal and other technological needs, and provide steel-hardening vanadium for industrial uses. Unlike earlier mills approved with no consideration for their toxic legacy, Energy Fuels has handed over 15 thick binders to state regulators. The binders are filled with the design, environmental and safety details surrounding its proposed mill. Regulators are examining hydrology, seismology, demographic impacts and effects on flora and fauna, as well as demanding complete plans for how the mill ultimately would be torn down and the site reclaimed. This time around, overseers want to ensure radioactive dust won’t waft over Paradox Valley farm crops, chemical milling agents won’t harm wildlife, and heavy metals and radioactivity won’t trickle into water sources. “We’re taking every precaution with this mill,” [Warren Smith with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Radiation Program] said. “If the applicant can’t demonstrate they can conform to our regulations, they won’t get the license.”

In the past, mill owners weren’t required to clean up the detritus created by the crushing, leeching and drying of uranium ore into an enriched product known as yellowcake. As much as 99 percent of uranium ore is left as waste after the milling process. The finely crushed tailings still contain 85 percent of the ore’s radioactivity and heavy metals. It also contains milling reagents such as kerosene and ammonia. That waste wasn’t considered a problem needing a solution until 1978, when the Uranium Mill Tailings Remediation Act passed. Only then were the 200 million tons of health-compromising tailings spread around milling and mine sites across the country suddenly dealt with. In the heyday of uranium mining and milling, those tailings were simply piled along riverbanks or spread across unlined acres around the mills. The hydro-intensive mills were allowed to set up shop alongside rivers. In some cases, the tailings were trucked to nearby towns to be used as fill dirt in construction projects. The contamination left behind by all that, along with a more modern mess at the Cotter Corp. mill site near Cañon City, has cemented the idea of uranium milling as an environmental nightmare.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Precipitation news

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

August brought a precipitation surplus to Breckenridge, with 3.07 inches of rain, about 35 percent above the average. The monthly rainfall also brought the seasonal total to within .01 inches of average for the year to date, with just one month left in the hydrological year…

The 2010 year-to-date total is 18.86 inches, the historic average, based on records going back more than 100 years, is 18.87 inches.

At Dillon, the rain gauge at the Denver Water office told a different story, with the monthly rainfall total of 1.63 inches just a shade below the historic average for the month, 1.77 inches.