The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area scores $425,000 from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for restoration work

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From The Mountain Mail (Cailey McDermott):

The project is designed to reduce the sediment in the river, improve river health and fishery imports. “Probably when all is said and done, it will cost close to $1 million,” Rob White recreation area park manger said. Additional financing will be from Colorado state parks, he said. Construction is set to start in the spring at Hecla Junction recreation site. White is hopeful work will be finished by fall. Hecla Junction was chosen because it’s an area of heavy recreational use and it received back-to-back flash floods in 2006 and 2007, White said. “The floods cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. We want to make the site more sustainable,” White said. Tom Waters, area assistant park manager, said focus of spring construction will be to remove sediments from the river so they can be measured and examined. It will create detention ponds where sediment is captured before reaching the river.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

Durango: Winter maintenance for Smelter Rapid

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From The Durango Herald (Garrett Andrews):

Track hoes in the middle of the Animas River at Santa Rita Park were performing winter maintenance on rock formations Monday, capitalizing on the 180 cubic feet per second flow of the Animas, which can run at several thousand cfs in the spring. The work, overseen by the city’s Animas River Task Force and funded by Durango Whitewater, should wrap up by the end of the week. The excavators are replacing dislodged boulders moved during monsoons and high flows over the last two years. Monday, Miguel Montoya of Spriggs Excavation of Durango was trying not to kick up silt while refashioning a river run that churns heavily in high water…

Durango Whitewater received a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and raised $14,000 to fund the project. Spriggs donated the track hoe and Montoya’s services. Wolf Creek Ski Corp. also donated a track hoe and operator.

More whitewater coverage here.

Tamarisk control: The Tamarisk Coalition scores $25,000 from Xcel

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From the Grand Junction Free Press:

The Tamarisk Coalition will be accepting $25,000 from the Xcel Energy Foundation for the continued restoration activities at Watson Island 9 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 16, at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens. The Tamarisk Coalition will be using these funds in partnership with the City of Grand Junction, Western Colorado Math and Science Center, Mesa State College, the Botanical Gardens, and the Western Colorado Conservation Corps to reach the ecological objectives for this site which include replacing invasive plant species with native plants to benefit wildlife habitat.

More Tamarisk control coverage here and here.

Southern Delivery System: Colorado Water Quality Control Division 401 certification challenge recap

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Colorado Water Control Commission, which oversees the division, heard testimony on the appeal of the certification at an all-day meeting Tuesday. The commission did not reach a decision, choosing to consider some points in executive session and deferring discussion and a ruling to a meeting at a later date. The case apparently is the first time a Section 401 certification has been appealed in Colorado…

Rather than set numeric standards for selenium, sulfates and E. coli levels that will increase as a result of SDS, the state chose instead to allow monitoring and cooperative action outlined in the adaptive management plan, Barth said. “There was no analysis done, and everything was based on a gut feeling,” Barth said in summarizing an eight-hour deposition of John Hranac, the state employee primarily involved with the Section 401 certification…

Barth continued to hammer on his point that there need to be specific limits on discharges because the streams already are impaired. Barth also said the state failed to look at how increased sanitary sewer and stormwater flows that will result from SDS will affect water quality on Fountain Creek and in the Arkansas River. The state ignored the demise of a stormwater enterprise that was used in the EIS adaptive management plan, he said. The division also didn’t take into account the high number of violations of water quality laws Colorado Springs has had over the past 12 years, he added. “There have been repeated violations that resulted in fines from the division and from federal courts,” Barth said, pointing out that some of the sewer line breaks were a direct result of lines crossing channels that washed out during floods. “Now you add more water? It’s putting more flame on the fire.” Barth, along with the coalition’s attorney Susan Eckert, asked the commission to either deny certification or remand the decision to the water quality division to develop numeric standards and analyze growth as a part of the process.

Colorado Springs argued that the scope of the certification is narrowly defined as a step toward a Section 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would allow digging and dredging in Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River. “The pipeline and treatment plants (in SDS) do not include any discharges,” said Jennifer Hunt, an attorney for Colorado Springs…

During questioning by Colorado Springs Utilities’ attorney David Robbins, SDS Project Director John Fredell said growth will occur with or without SDS, and that the project has other purposes — including providing redundancy of water delivery systems, reliability of service and development of water rights. Annette Quill, the state’s attorney, argued the adaptive management plan is enforceable, and defended the division staff as using their “best professional judgment,” not a gut reaction, to make the decision to certify SDS. The state favored the adaptive management plan rather than a strict limit on contaminants, said Steve Gunderson, director of the Water Quality Control Division. “An adaptive management program made sense, because you could study this thing to death and still not be conclusive,” Gunderson said. “Fountain Creek involves as much scrutiny as any basin in the state, and we’re definitely going to be involved.”

More coverage from The Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold):

State regulators Tuesday delayed a decision until next month on a dispute involving Colorado Springs Utilities’ Southern Delivery System water pipeline. The group Rocky Mountain Environmental Labor Coalition and Pueblo County District Attorney Bill Thiebaut have challenged a water-quality certification obtained by Utilities in April.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.