Colorado entrepreneur modifies GE membrane water treatment plant to use solar for use in developing countries

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From (Marc Gunther):

Jack Barker and his wife, Carmen, have been in the water business for years, providing maintenance and support to small water systems in Colorado. “It’s always been a passion of mine, drinking water,” he told me. About four years ago, Barker got the local distributorship for the GE Homespring, which uses thousands of tiny, fibre membrane strands to block out contaminants like bacteria, parasites and viruses. He thought: “Wouldn’t it be neat to get this technology to places in the world that need it the most?”

Easier said than done. Costs were one issue, he knew, and the availability of parts and technicians was another. What’s more, places that lack safe drinking water often also lack electricity.

It was then that Barker decided to design and build the Sunspring, which incorporates GE’s technology, but runs on solar power. “It’s probably 96 percent assembled when you get it,” he says. “From crate to making water takes about two hours.” Surplus electricity can even be used to charge a mobile phone…

Barker’s company, Innovative Water Technologies, has deployed about 20 Sunsprings in Haiti. He says they should last 10 years and can purify up to 5,000 gallons of water a day, at a cost as low as $.0013 per gallon.
“It’s one of the most cost-effective water treatment systems in the world,” he says.

Here’s a A Q&A with Jack Barker on Solar Powered Water Purification from R&D Magazine.

More water treatment coverage here.

Colorado College State of the Rockies Project releases ‘Conservation in the West’ survey: Westerners favor environmental protection

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Here’s the release from the State of the Rockies Project:

Majority of Western Voters Believe Environmental Protections, Strong Economy Can Co-Exist

First-ever “Conservation in the West Survey” measures voters’ environmental attitudes in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — A new bi-partisan poll of inter-mountain West voters shows that a strong majority (77 percent) believe that environmental standards and a strong economy can co- exist. The findings, from the first-ever “Conservation in the West Survey,” reveal differences and many points of agreement among voters on issues such as conservation, regulations, renewable energy and other environmental issues.

The poll, conducted by Lori Weigel at Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican firm) and Dave Metz at Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (a Democratic firm), measured environmental attitudes of 2,200 voters in the five Western states January 23-27, 2011. The survey is being released by the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project, which, for the past eight years, has worked to increase public understanding of vital issues affecting the Rockies through annual report cards, free events, discussions and other activities.

“This research underscores an interesting and important trend in these five states,” said Walt Hecox, Ph.D., professor at Colorado College and director of the State of the Rockies Project. “While there are differences of opinion on a range of issues, there are true common values shared between each state, including a commitment to protect the important natural resources that make this region so unique.”

“Particularly interesting is the emergence of renewable energy sources – such as solar and wind power – as a much more attractive option over traditional fossil fuels,” added Hecox. (According to the results, voters indicate more positive impressions of solar and wind power as energy sources than they do for coal or oil.) “Voters see renewable energy as producing jobs, and they have ambitious goals for using more of these sources to supply their states’ overall energy needs.”

[Click here for] some of the key findings. To view the executive summary or entire report, please visit:

More coverage from David O. Williams writing for the Colorado Independent. From the article:

Conducted by both a Republican and Democratic polling firm and produced for the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project, the “Conservation in the West” survey found that voters thought the average percentage of their state’s electricity coming from renewable resources should be about 65 percent.

Generally expressing more positive impressions of solar and wind power than coal or oil (with the exception of Wyoming residents), 77 percent of all those surveyed felt environmental standards and a strong economy can co-exist. And 65 percent said they disagree that renewable energy is “too unreliable to be a significant part of our energy supply.”

And a majority of voters in all five states (70 percent), which also included New Mexico, Montana and Utah, said it’s “time to start replacing coal with other energy sources like wind and solar power.”

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

The “Conservation in the West” survey, commissioned by Colorado College and released this morning, also found that two thirds of voters believe current laws protecting air, land and water should be strengthened or better enforced. Even when offered an economic rationale for relaxing environmental standards, 77 percent of voters surveyed said standards that apply to major industries must be maintained. Only 18 percent favored relaxing standards in an effort to boost the economy and generate jobs. The survey indicates most voters consider environmental protection and a strong economy to be compatible goals.

A majority in every state where voters were surveyed – Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – said they favor replacing coal with other energy sources such as wind and solar power. And 54 percent indicated they’d be willing to pay at least ten dollars more per month to increase the use of renewable energy to generate electricity in their state.

Conservation front and center for Donala Water and Sanitation District — Xeriscape Expo February 26

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From The Tri-Lakes Tribune (Lisa Collacott):

In an effort to help its customers switch to xeriscape gardening and landscaping Donala has hired Susan McLean, a professional horticulturist and designer, as conservation manager. McLean’s plans are to take Donala customers from the existing irrigation rationing program to a xeriscape design. In doing so, she will offer training and assistance. “We are really trying to encourage water conservation,” McLean said. “Xeriscape is an excellent way to save water.”

She said there is enough water now but Donala is looking toward the future. As a kickoff to the new program, the company is having a Xeriscape Expo Feb. 26 at Antelope Trails Elementary School. There will be presentations on xeriscape, displays of water-wise gardening resources, efficient irrigation and lawn care, and door prizes…

Another project in the works is the Donala Gardens, a xeriscape demonstration garden on Gleneagle Drive. The garden, which will start at the Gleneagle subdivision sign and extend to the shopping center, will give customers ideas for putting their own xeriscape garden together. “You can have a fabulous garden on very little water,” McLean said. “You can really make a big difference with xeriscape.”

The Xeriscape Expo is free and intended for Donala customers, but everyone is welcome to attend. It will be from 1-3 p.m. on Feb. 26.

More conservation coverage here.

The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District hires Edwin Winton as their new director

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From the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District via the Pagosa Daily Post:

The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors are pleased to announce the hiring of Mr. Edwin (Ed) Winton to fill the position of District Manager. Mr. Winton was selected from a group of four well qualified finalists. His career history includes extensive experience not only in the water/wastewater utility field, but also in management. He will be relocating from Topeka, Kansas, and is expected to assume his new post with PAWSD on approximately March 14, 2011.

The PAWSD Board believes Mr. Winton will be a positive addition to our staff, the District and the community we serve. We look forward to his arrival.

More Pagosa Springs coverage here and here.

Grand County files for a Recreational In Channel Diversion right on the Upper Colorado River

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Tonya Bina):

Appropriated on Dec. 21, the 2010 water rights, if realized, may give Grand County traction with future water cases affecting the Fraser and Colorado Rivers, according to county officials. A recreational in-channel diversion allows for a call in a certain place and time for the benefit of “boating, rafting, kayaking, tubing, floating, canoeing, paddling, and all other non-motorized recreational uses” as “part of (the county’s) ongoing effort to improve water-based recreational and economic opportunities for its citizens and the general public,” states the water rights application. The “byproduct” would be allowing Grand County to be “in the conversation” when it comes to decisions about future river uses, according to Grand County Commissioner James Newberry…

Objectors to the Division 5 conditional water rights filing in Garfield County’s 9th Judicial District Court, Glenwood Springs, have until the end of February to oppose the application. Town boards and rights holders from Kremmling to Winter Park are considering opposing the filing as a means to join the case to ensure their water interests are protected — in some cases, a position of objection could be viewed as “friendly opposition,” and in others, genuine opposition…

Grand County’s application for conditional rights names a Hot Sulphur Springs Whitewater Park in Pioneer Park near the town, with no rights at flows above 900 cubic feet per second (cfs), and a Gore Canyon Whitewater Park in two locations, one above and one below Pumphouse recreation area west of Kremmling, with no rights at flows above 2,500 cfs. One or more of these sites could be the source of calls for recreation water in the river from the headwaters of the Colorado and in the length of the Fraser River…

The county’s 2010 water right would be junior to existing rights and may only influence future development and diversions on the river, [Grand County Commissioner Gary Bumgarner] said.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

2011 Colorado legislation: The Colorado Department of Wildlife agrees to look at water projects

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From the Summit County Citizen’s Voice (Bob Berwyn):

The five-year program was announced a few weeks after State Rep. Jon Becker (R-Fort Morgan) proposed a bill that would have diverted revenue from hunting and fishing licenses to the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The wildlife agency now says it will work with Becker to explore opportunities that will first and foremost benefit wildlife and wildlife recreation, but will also help other entities and individuals who depend on water resources in the state.

“In the face of budget issues that are creating challenges throughout state government, it is especially challenging to plan for increasing water demand while protecting natural resources over the long term,” Department of Natural Resources director Mike King said. “There is a lot of overlap between healthy wildlife habitat and what sportsmen and agricultural communities need. We welcome the opportunity to combine these goals and find ways to make limited state funding go further.”

“We have several critical water development needs, such as repairing the dam at Beaver Reservoir to allow us to store water again,” said Division of Wildlife Director Tom Remington. ”We also have some great opportunities, such as reaching a storage agreement with Rio Grande Reservoir operators to store Division of Wildlife water critical to our needs in the San Luis Valley.”

More coverage from The Fort Morgan Times (Marianne Goodland):

The bill’s [HB 11-1150] problem, and Becker`s too, was that diverting the money from DOW would have cost the agency $200 million over the next 10 years in federal funds. That money, according to DOW, funds hunter and aquatic education, sportfish and wildlife restoration, and boating access. Lisa Dale of DOW told this reporter that the money represents 25 percent of the division`s annual funding. Losing it “would have touched everything we do,” she said. And that put Becker on the radar for hunters and fishermen and women, and not in a good way, and as a result HB 1150 faced a probable defeat on Monday. Instead, Becker got a little help from Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, and the cooperation of a new Citizen`s Wildlife Advisory Council that Sonnenberg heads. Sonnenberg told this reporter that he made sure the “right people were in the right room at the right time” to hammer out the issues, and eventually, the agreement.

More 2011 Colorado legislation coverage here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: Water and the Niobrara oil play in northern Colorado

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From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

Weld County companies involved in supplying, delivering, treating and recycling water are among many benefiting from the economic boom rippling from the billions of oil and gas dollars being invested in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming to find and extract oil and gas from the Niobrara shale.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Rio Grande Basin Roundtable meeting recap

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

…local officials pointed to the rehabilitation of local reservoirs as an important step in getting more water for basin users. The state has imposed storage restrictions on six of them, including Continental, Terrace and Sanchez reservoirs. The latter three each have storage capacities of over 10,000 acre feet.

But getting funding for reservoirs that need repair and are owned by private irrigation companies is a tricky proposition. “Its out of the realm for the ag users,” said Travis Smith, who sits on both the statewide roundtable and the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

The most likely source of infrastructure funds would be the federal government…

Greg Johnson, a water resource planning specialist for the conservation board, said the desire to avoid having to deal with the [National Environmental Policy Act] was an important reason for the increase in agricultural transfers on the Front Range over the last two decades. He added that repairing the state’s reservoirs so they can store at full capacity ranks first among already-identified projects that could help the state meet its shortfall. He cited a recent media report that such repairs could result in nearly one million acre-feet of additional water. The board also called for more work to be done on the analysis of the valley’s nonconsumptive needs, such as the water required to maintain fisheries.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

Southern Delivery System update

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

The final review of the proposed excess capacity contracts for the Southern Delivery System is now open, Reclamation announced today. Reclamation will be accepting written comments on the proposed final version of the contracts through Monday, April 25, 2011.

The excess capacity contracts were publicly negotiated between Reclamation and the SDS Participants.

To receive a copy of the draft contracts or to provide written comments, contact Carmen Boggs via mail, fax, or e-mail:

Bureau of Reclamation
11056 West CR18E
Loveland, CO 80537
(fax) 970-663-3212

SDS is a water delivery project designed to provide the communities of Colorado Springs, Pueblo West, Fountain and Security a reliable way to deliver water. The system consists of 62 miles of pipeline, a water treatment plant, three water pump stations, and two reservoirs. The project is scheduled to deliver water to these communities in 2016.

The draft contracts are available at

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

As part of SDS, however, each community will store water in excess-capacity accounts in Lake Pueblo beginning this year. Lake Pueblo was built as part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, authorized by Congress in 1962. Non-project water can be stored in most years. During negotiations last year, a rate of $36 per acre-foot was negotiated, with an increase of 1.79 percent annually over the 40-year life of the contract. Participants have spent the last few months deciding the timing of storage and other minor details. For the first seven years of storage, the bills will be reduced by a total of $6 million in recognition of oversizing the initial quarter-mile of pipeline from Pueblo Dam to the Juniper Pump Station. Once that section of pipeline is completed, it will be deeded to Reclamation. Consequently, payments through 2017 will total about $760,000. Payments from the four communities will total more than $1.25 million in 2018, and will increase each year by terms of the contract and as more water is stored…

Construction on the North Outlet Works will begin in May. ASI Constructors of Pueblo West is the lead contractor. The first section of pipeline will be 7 miles through Pueblo West, beginning in July. The pipe will be 5-feet in diameter, buried in a 12-foot deep trench. The total construction easement will be about 100 feet wide, with a permanent 50-foot easement. The Pueblo County north section of the line, mostly through 7 miles of Walker Ranches, will begin in September. The line from Pueblo Dam will begin in October. Construction on the Juniper Pump Station will begin by October 2013, Fredell said.

Meanwhile, rancher Gary Walker is concerned that Colorado Springs Utilities is bullying landowners along the SDS route, including Walker, who still holds out hope of keeping the pipeline away from his family’s holdings. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Colorado Springs officials said there have been discussions with Walker about moving cattle and conducting revegetation tests along the route of the Fountain Valley Conduit, another buried water line that cuts across Walker Ranches. They said the tests are being conducted on Walker’s recommendation by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program at Colorado State University and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “There have been delays to getting on the property,” [Project Manager Keith Riley] said, adding that the delays have been on Walker’s end. “At a meeting yesterday, he showed excitement to get going.”

From Walker’s point of view, it’s more like agitation than excitement. He said he wants the revegetation tests done if he loses his bid to keep SDS off his property. He wants Colorado Springs to pay the costs of relocating his cattle to a nearby location, and he bristles at an offer by Colorado Springs to move them to a site owned by Utilities several miles away during construction. “The purchase of the land is just a small part of this transaction,” Walker said, when told about the meeting. “They are liars. They have never tried to meet with me on doing what needs to be done to protect the environment and Walker Ranches.” Some delays with the test plots have occurred because of weather or the availability of Colorado Springs contractors, Walker said. “We never allow them to enter if it’s muddy or snow-covered,” he said. “We’ve had several meetings and they’ve been productive.” Walker said he wants Colorado Springs to pay for moving the cattle to his Turkey Creek Ranch during construction because it would be less expensive than relocating operations to another site. “There’s $1 million worth of cattle out there,” Walker said. “That’s our livelihood.” Walker also objects to the route of the pipeline. The existing Fountain Valley Conduit jogs to the west after entering Walker Ranches, while the SDS route cuts straight across the land, crossing several deep arroyos. “The route is the wrong way to go,” Walker said. “It’s going to be causing problems for the rest of my lifetime and for the rest of Colorado Springs’ lifetime. If they had followed the old route, there probably wouldn’t have been a problem.”

Pueblo County is looking closely at appraisals done on behalf of Colorado Springs Utilities and the Southern Delivery System pipeline, according to Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“There’s a moral obligation to treat people in Pueblo County the same as in El Paso County,” Commissioner Anthony Nunez told officials for the Southern Delivery System during an update of commitments Colorado Springs agreed to under a 1041 land-use permit. “If you’re willing to pay more in El Paso County, why can’t Pueblo County be treated the same?” Nunez said the project largely benefits El Paso County, so the values in Pueblo County should be on a par all along the line. Instead, Colorado Springs is offering more in many El Paso County cases. Easements or purchases are needed along the route of a buried pipeline from Pueblo Dam to Colorado Springs.

Nunez’s comments came after County Attorney Dan Kogovsek asked SDS Project Director John Fredell about how property values were determined. “When you say you’ve offered 30 cents a square foot, is it one size fits all?” Kogovsek asked, adding that homeowners who live on the property would have to live with construction impacts. “Your contracts on the El Paso County, are they 30 cents a square foot?”

Some El Paso County contracts have been for more money, because comparable property sales in that area are higher. Sales in the immediate area were used, Fredell replied. He also defended the 30 cents per square foot offer, saying real estate professionals hired by Colorado Springs used actual sales data. Utilities has also worked with property owners who had fences, buildings, trees or pets on the lots by increasing the amount offered.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.