Water treatment: Oasys Water says it will test complete, large-scale systems using forward osmosis early next year

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Here’s a report from MIT Technology Review (Kevin Bullis):

Oasys Water, a company that has been developing a novel, inexpensive desalination technology, showed off a new development facility in Boston this week. The company, which has been demonstrating commercial-scale components of its system in recent months, plans to begin testing a complete system early next year and to start selling the systems by the end of 2011.

Currently, desalination is done mainly in one of two ways: water is either heated until it evaporates (called a thermal process) or forced through a membrane that allows water molecules but not salt ions to pass (known as reverse osmosis). Oasys’s method uses a combination of ordinary (or forward) osmosis and heat to turn sea water into drinking water.

On one side of a membrane is sea water; on the other is a solution containing high concentrations of carbon dioxide and ammonia. Water naturally moves toward this more concentrated “draw” solution, and the membrane blocks salt and other impurities as it does so. The resulting mixture is then heated, causing the carbon dioxide and ammonia to evaporate. Fresh water is left behind, and the ammonia and carbon dioxide are captured and reused.

Oasys says the technology could make desalination economically attractive not only in arid regions where there are no alternatives to desalination, but also in places where fresh water must be transported long distances.

Thanks to Loretta Lohman for the link.

More water treatment coverage here and here.

Custer County augmentation plan update

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From The Wet Mountain Tribune (Nora Drenner):

If all goes according to plan, the Custer County commissioners and Upper Arkansas Conservancy District will meet after the first of the year to talk about the implementation of a blanket water augmentation plan for the county.

More Custer County coverage here and here.

South Platte Basin: Leadville Water joint venture gets a thumbs down in water court

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FromThe Fairplay Flume (Mike Potter):

According to Jim Culichia, the attorney who represented the Center of Colorado Water Conservancy District, one of six entities that challenged the application, Leadville Water sought 2 cubic feet per second of water, or about 2,880 gallons of water per day. The water was coming from the Dauntless Tunnel in between Mount Sherman and Mount Sheridan, located at the headwaters of Fourmile Creek west of Fairplay. According to Culichia, Leadville Water sought to get the water and had a contract to sell it to United Water and Sanitation for more than $20 million…

Culichia told The Flume that the water judge [James F. Hartmann] rejected the Leadville Water arguments after it failed to prove “alleged lack of any subsurface hydraulic connection between the water captured by the Dauntless Tunnel and Fourmile Creek.”[…]

The two entities in the Leadville Water joint venture are Leadville Corp., which owns the mining claims on Mount Sherman, and Dakota Water Resources, which is a Centennial-based water acquisition firm.

More South Platte Basin coverage here.

Arkansas River voluntary flow program

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

…the outfitters weren’t asking for any water. They just wanted it to come during the warm days of summer when tourism was at its peak. “What turned things around was the attitude of the Bureau of Reclamation, which in 1989-90 drained Twin Lakes for maintenance,” Dils said. The release during the summer months showed that water could be moved without damaging water rights. The details of how much water was enough for rafting or too much for fish had to be worked out.

Beginning in 1990, a voluntary flow agreement that balanced the needs of boaters and fishermen began, and it’s been renewed every year. It came a year after the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area was formed. Since the formation of the recreation area, the river has become the most heavily commercially rafted river in the world. The river has also been the site of the annual FIBArk boat races since 1949. “Colorado water law allowed for the water to be moved, and the agreement requires the state to replace the evaporative loss, so no one loses water,” Dils said.

Meanwhile the Pueblo Board of Water Works has approved the recent settlement between Pueblo County and Pueblo West in the lawsuit over the Pueblo Winter Flow Program. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“The water board’s staff is the one group that looks out for that stretch of the Arkansas River, from the dam to Fountain Creek,” said board member Jim Gardner. The agreement was important to the water board not only because it protects the flow program and puts on hold a Pueblo West plan to pump effluent into a wash that leads directly into Lake Pueblo, said Alan Hamel, executive director of the water board. “Importantly, for the entire Pueblo community, we’ve enhanced the flow program without disturbing the three-party and six-party agreements,” Hamel said.

He was referring to 2004 agreements that settled issues relating to SDS and the Preferred Storage Options Program. Those pacts also set up a program that maintains seasonal flows through Pueblo by curtailing exchanges.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

Energy policy — geothermal: BLM Mt. Princeton lease sale update

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

John Kreski, who owns the Creekside Hot Springs vacation rental in the lease area, is among private landowners breathing a sigh of relief. “They (3E Geothermal) have 10 years to develop it and I think the reason they bought it was to protect the drinking water supply in the area and keep the aesthetics of the area pristine,” Kreski said…

The lease will not be issued until the 16 protest letters have been resolved. If the lease is issued, it would be the first step in any geothermal development process, according to Keith Berger, BLM field manager. “The BLM’s next action would come if the lessee submits a project proposal. The BLM would then initiate an environmental review of the proposal and seek public input for concerns and potential issues related to that proposal,” Berger explained.

More geothermal coverage here and here.

Fort Collins: Water innovation business cluster profile

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Here’s the announcement from the City of Fort Collins webiste:

Announcing the formation of a new, exciting industry cluster focused on water-related issues and innovation! The future of water safety, water supply and water management is a global issue; Fort Collins area companies, Colorado State University and industry partners around the state are ready to take on water challenges and discover solutions that are best for the planet, for business and our societies.

The newly organized industry cluster unites these companies and organizations as they contribute to the economic vitality of our area and beyond.

CWCB: Next board meeting January 24-26

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board:

Notice is hereby given that a workshop for members of the CWCB will be held on Monday, January 24, 2011. This workshop will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn, Denver Tech Center, located at 7675 E. Union Ave., Denver, CO 80237, commencing at 1:00 p.m.

Notice is hereby given that a meeting of the CWCB will be held on Tuesday January 25, 2011, commencing at 8:00 a.m. and continuing through Wednesday, January 26, 2011. This meeting will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn, Denver Tech Center, located at 7675 E. Union Ave., Denver, CO 80237.

More CWCB coverage here.

Arkansas Valley: Wildlife water needs

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Here’s a look at the work of SeEtta Moss’ work to preserve water for wildlife, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Moss, who lives in Canon City, is the conservation chairwoman for the Arkansas Valley Audobon and Colorado Audubon societies, and her influence in water issues has grown in the past five years. In 2005, she joined the Arkansas Basin Roundtable as the representative for nonconsumptive needs — the water that provides landscape and habitat for birds and other wildlife. In that time, she has taught other members of the roundtable the importance of wildlife-related activities, helped develop a groundbreaking method of measuring the relative importance of nonconsumptive use in the basin and worked for state grants to study wildlife habitat throughout the basin…

So, what do all those animals have to do with the value of water?
“Protecting the environmental values is a job creator,” Moss said. “Protecting these assets is important to creating jobs in Colorado. People come to see pretty landscapes and the birds. Not many want to come here to see dry mountain streams.” Watching wildlife, hunting and fishing have an estimated $3 billion impact on the state’s economy…

Moss gives the creatures who cannot own a water right a place at the table as decisions are made.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

Rio Blanco River restoration update

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From The New York Times (Chris Santella):

To create a habitat that would support trout in the valley reaches of the Rio Blanco, it was necessary to slow the river enough to stem erosion and create deeper pockets of water to provide shelter for the fish. Before he could begin to create a blueprint to engineer the necessary changes, Rosgen needed to find a river in the region that would provide a natural model.

“I looked for a system that had a similar flow regime and hence was naturally stable,” he said. Once such a model was found — the East Fork of the San Juan in an adjoining valley — Rosgen set to work, hauling in boulders and parts of old trees to rejuvenate the Blanco’s banks and direct its waters toward a more defined channel.

“My goal was to develop a naturally meandering stream that has a close connection to the surrounding riparian environs,” Rosgen said. “In the past, methods included using junked cars and concrete to shore up stream banks. That doesn’t exactly give the river a natural feel.”

One of the main challenges Rosgen faced on the Rio Blanco was filtering out the massive amounts of sediment that is carried down from the mountains during spring runoff. If the sediment was not diverted, the stream bed would be clogged and water would flow outside of the primary channel. Rosgen and his team constructed a tube to divert cobble, gravel and sand away from the river channel; water flows through, and sediment is routed to a holding area that can be periodically emptied. The excess gravel — which during my visit rivaled the sand piles along highways during the snow season — is used to supplement the roads and trails around the ranch.

Because of Rosgen’s efforts, there are three miles of the Rio Blanco that may be fished by guests of El Rancho Pinoso, which is owned by Robert Lindner Sr., the founder of United Dairy Farms. The price tag for the renovation was about $1 million.

Thanks to Loretta Lohman for the link.

More Rio Blanco River watershed coverage here.

Purgatoire River: Colorado Trout Unlimited is embarking on project to enhance the trout fishery

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From the CTU Newsblog (Joanie Muzzulin):

…a few, like Chapter President Howard Lackey, could see beyond the trash and invasive plants and envision the potential of the Purgatoire River as a trout steam. Howard’s grandfather taught him the best way to recover from a stressful day of work is to take out the fly rod, and that is easier to do with a stream near where you work and live. The Trinidad Community Foundation was founded in 2006, with a mission to improve the quality of life in Trinidad and Las Animas County. Howard was on the board of directors, and one of the first projects tackled was improving the river corridor. The Foundation began a spring clean-up of the river corridor. They partnered with The Comcast Foundation, and this spring over 230 people volunteered at the Comcast Cares clean-up event.

Members from Chapter 509 Southern Colorado Greenbacks in Pueblo had become interested in the Purgatoire River a couple of years ago, and toured it with city officials and Kim Pacheco Schultz, the Executive Director of the Trinidad-Las Animas County Chamber of Commerce. They were excited by the possibilities but knew it would be difficult to work on a project 75 miles away. Chapter 509 generously off ered to allow a new TU chapter to form in their southeastern Colorado territory. A meeting was held in September 2009 to measure the local interest, and Chapter 100, Purgatoire River Anglers, came into being that night.

More Purgatoire River watershed coverage here and here.

Electric generation and water in the Arkansas Valley

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Here’s a look at the water requirements for electrical generation and the current state of power plants in the Arkansas Valley, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The purchase of half of one of the valley’s largest irrigation systems, the Amity Canal, by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association shines a new light on how water and electricity are connected. “The system is out of balance. We really had the need for power-generation resources on the eastern side of our system,” said Lee Boughey, communications director for Tri-State. “We did it differently, because we saw the need for having the water on-site with options for any number of technologies.”[…]

While initial plans called for a pair of coal-burning power plants that would generate 1,400 megawatts of power, Tri-State now is looking at options that could incorporate coal, natural gas, wind, solar or even nuclear technology. Until then, the water that eventually will be used in electric power generation remains in agriculture, on farms that Tri-State bought along with the water and now leases to tenant farmers. “When we do build a power plant, the transmission lines associated with it will help facilitate renewable energy because you will have a more stable infrastructure,” Boughey explained. “At the same time, it’s important to maintain the land and keep it in production.”[…]

An even larger share of the electricity generated at Pueblo will go to Denver metro area customers beginning in 2012. Black Hills Energy is building a gas-fired plant near Pueblo, also with water supplied by the Pueblo water board, and is planning on closing its Canon City generating plant. Colorado Springs Utilities, which supplies the largest customer base in the basin, controls its own water supply, and reuses nonpotable water as part of the supply for its coal and gas plants. It also produces some electricity by hydropower. The city will increase its power demands when it builds the Southern Delivery System, because it will have to pump water uphill from Pueblo Dam. Right now, Colorado Springs has the capacity to produce more electricity than it uses, said Bruce McCormick, chief energy officer for Colorado Springs Utilities. Colorado Springs controls its own water, wastewater, electric and gas utilities.

Click through for Mr. Woodka short bio of Mr. Boughey.

More energy policy coverage here.