Proposed southwestern Kansas power plant would effectively export 3.9 billion gallons of Arkansas River Basin water back to Colorado critics say

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From the Associated Press (John Hanna):

Sunflower Electric Power Corp., based in Hays, estimates its new plant in Finney County in southwest Kansas will consume 3.9 billion gallons of water a year. Most of the electricity generated by Sunflower’s new plant initially would flow to a partner utility in Colorado, leading critics to suggest Kansas will be, in effect, exporting its water. But as much water as the plant would consume, local officials calculate that it represents less than 1 percent of the existing annual water use in the state’s heavily agricultural southwest corner. Farmers previously held the rights to the water Sunflower would use, and they would have been allowed to consume significantly more.

Ed Quillen calls it an A new twist in an old contention up on the High Country News weblog Range. He writes:

Others point out that even if the water remained in agriculture, it would effectively be exported to other states where the products are consumed. I ran some numbers on this last year. A farm-fresh potato is about 80 percent water, so a ton of potatoes contains about 200 gallons. Every 700-pound yearling steer that leaves my county, and most of them do, is 65 percent water.

So maybe there’s no way around the persistent truth that the two major exports from rural areas are smart kids and water — either flowing, used to make electricity, or contained inside potato skins and cattle hides.

2010 Colorado elections: Amendment 61 limits on government borrowing

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Here’s a report on the Legislative Council’s analysis of Amendment 61 from Patrick Malone writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

If the amendment passes in November, projects that traditionally have been financed through borrowing would have to be paid for by hikes in fees or funds earmarked for other purposes, according to an analysis by the Legislative Council…

As for negatives, the Legislative Council said important public services could be strangled without borrowed funds. During the past decade, Colorado’s population has grown by 20 percent, increasing demand for services that rely on borrowing to be offered realistically, it said. Private businesses also could suffer if government contracts for projects financed by borrowing disappear, the analysis said…

Unlike the state, which under Amendment 61 would be prohibited from borrowing, local governments could ask voters to approve indebtedness, with certain restrictions. For instance, a local government would be allowed to borrow only the equivalent of 10 percent of the assessed property value within its borders. Those currently with debt of that amount or more would have to pay down their debts before taking on new ones. Local governments typically borrow to construct or improve schools, roads, public buildings (such as jails and recreation centers), mass transit, water and wastewater treatment plants and to buy vehicles, including firefighting and police equipment. The amendment also would require local governments to repay loans within 10 years — rather than the current standard of 20- or 30-year loans — to keep down interest costs. Furthermore, it would require taxes to be lowered when government completes repayment of a loan, even if tax dollars weren’t used to retire the debt.

Here’s a long analysis of Proposition 101 and Amendments 60 and 61 from Pat Ferrier writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan: Click through an read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

Opponents, including many local business owners, say the measures threaten jobs and could result in a voter-approved recession exacerbating an already slow economic recovery. Coloradans for Responsible Reform, or CFRR, estimates more than 73,000 jobs – 38,000 from the private sector, 35,000 from public sector – and billions of dollars in infrastructure projects would be lost, creat-ing an anti-business reputation in Colorado that would detract from future growth. [Elaine Lauffer] said the amendments could cripple her family-owned business that relies on public-sector construction jobs.

Here’s a video about Proposition 101, Amendment 61 and Amendment 60 from the Bell Policy Center, The Bad 3.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

2010 Colorado elections: U.S. Representative John Salazar squares off with Scott Tipton at Club 20 debate

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Ellen Miller):

The three-term congressman brought that up in responses to a number of issue questions, including federal payment-in-lieu-of-taxes monies to counties with federal lands. “For somebody who wants to cut the budget 50 percent across the board, I don’t know where you’ll find any PILT funding,” Salazar said. He again used the statement referring to water projects, when Tipton called for funding more of them in Colorado.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

2010 Colorado elections: Hickenlooper and Maes at Club 20 debate in Grand Junction

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From The Denver Post (Lynn Bartels):

The candidates debated a range of issues, from taxes to transportation to water. The debate was one of several held as part of the fall meeting of Club 20, which represents governments, businesses and civic organizations in western Colorado…

The Democrat opened by reminding members of Club 20 he was invited to speak at their fall meeting in 2004, the year after he was elected mayor. “The big thing I talked about that day was water,” he said. “I said as a state we need a more collaborative approach to water. I told you I was willing to lead that effort.” He said that in the past six years Denver Water users have reduced their consumption by 20 percent.

More 2010 Colorado elections coverage here.

FEMA revokes accreditation for hundreds of levees across the country

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From USA Today (Peter Eisler):

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has revoked its accreditation of the levees as part of an effort to update the government’s flood hazard maps, which guide state, local and federal decisions on development in flood-prone areas. Properties protected by the levees now are in flood hazard zones, which means owners who have federally backed mortgages are required by banking laws to carry flood insurance.

More coverage from The Fort Morgan Times (Dan Barker):

Levees across the nation need to be recertified under the FEMA flood map modernization program, which began in 2004 and started in this area in 2008, she said. This mapping sets the flood insurance rate maps, which are also being converted to digital images, said Dawn Gladwell, mapping project specialist for FEMA. The Army Corps of Engineers inspects levees for its own insurance program, but has backed away from certifying levees, except when it maintains them itself in rare instances, said Mark Kempton of Anderson Consulting Engineers, a firm which does certification. One advantage of having complied with the Corps is that Wiggins likely meets FEMA`s requirements for periodic maintenance, and that documentation will help smooth the certification process, said Chris Pauley, senior project manager with Anderson Consulting Engineers. The modernization program must certify that all levees meet the minimum standards consistent with the possibility of a 100-year flood, Gladwell said.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Pueblo: Fountain Creek flood mitigation project groundbreaking ceremony tomorrow

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., will be on hand for the groundbreaking of a $1 million flood mitigation at 3 p.m. Monday at the site of a side detention pond in Pueblo near Colorado 47 and Dillon Road.

The area, behind the North Side Walmart, is a site that captured some flood water during a major 2007 thunderstorm after an embankment failed. There were damaging floods in a nearby neighborhood that might have been alleviated if the flood detention pond was in place, city officials said at the time. “This project is a demonstration of the tremendous benefits that can be delivered to Fountain Creek when people work together,” Salazar said. “It’s refreshing to see a group create a vision, devise a plan and carry it out. I look forward to continuing my support of collaborative efforts to restore this watershed.”

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

CDC: Don’t drink the groundwater near the Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill superfund site

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Here’s a report from Tracy Harmon writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Prolonged drinking of contaminated private well water, over several years, may have put some Lincoln Park people at risk for health problems, however, breathing air around the site was not found to be a health hazard, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study found that consuming the molybdenum-contaminated water for many years could put residents at increased risk for certain health effects including gout or other joint problems. Most people in Lincoln Park are now on the public water supply and are not exposed to the contaminant, according to the report. “However, some residents may still have operational private wells. These residents should have their wells tested, and if they are contaminated, they should stop using well water for household purposes such as drinking, cooking or bathing,” according to a statement issued Thursday by Vivi Abrams of the CDC.

Lincoln Park residents also should limit their use of contaminated well water to irrigate vegetables. Exposure to molybdenum through locally grown vegetables irrigated with private well water is not thought to be at levels that would harm people’s health, however, as a precaution the vegetables should be thoroughly cleaned prior to eating them.

Other findings in the report concluded that accidentally eating or touching soil and sediment near the Cotter Mill property or in Lincoln Park will not harm people’s health. Air emissions of particle-bound radionuclides have not resulted in exposures to the public at levels that could cause adverse health effects, according to the report.

Federal health officials will conduct two open houses for the public from noon to 2 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 23 at the Holy Cross Abbey, 2951 E. U.S. 50. Public comment on the report will be accepted until Nov. 9.