Platte River basin: Will the feds fund the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program this year?

A picture named platteriverbasin.jpg

From the Kearney Hub (Lori Potter):

“There is a level of concern,” Executive Director Jerry Kenny of Kearney said Monday, because federal funds — annual appropriations — provide most of the dollars for [Platte River Recovery Implementation Program] projects in the first 13 years. “Will the federal government honor the promises it made in the authorizing legislation?” Kenny asked. “Or will other priorities force cuts? I think it’s a legitimate concern.”

During a visit to south-central Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin and Platte River Monday, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, “I’m very concerned. At the end of the day, if we don’t invest in conservation, we take away the legacy (that’s been built). “Even though we’re in a time of crisis, this is not the time to go back on conservation,” he said, adding that Abraham Lincoln protected Yosemite from development during the Civil War.

More South Platte River basin coverage here. More North Platte River basin coverage here.

Durango: The city is opening up a comment period for their proposed ‘Water Efficiency Management Plan’

A picture named animasriver.jpg

Here’s the release from the City of Durango (Sherri Dugdale):

The City of Durango has begun work on revisions to its Water Efficiency Management Plan, the plan that describes how water conservation and other measures will be implemented to more efficiently use the water resources in the area, reduce water system operating costs, postpone the need for investments in city infrastructure, and reduce the need for water rate increases to its customers.

Using a grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the City and its consultant, the Great Western Institute, have prepared a draft plan for review by the citizens of Durango. The draft plan will be available for review for a 60-day period, after which it will be considered for approval by the Durango City Council. The draft plan describes the existing conditions in the City of Durango including per capita consumption of water, water losses in the distribution system and ongoing programs to reduce water waste, and describes new programs the City should consider to postpone the need to invest in new water treatment facilities and alternate supply sources.

The plan is available for review at the Durango Public Library or on-line at http://www.durangogov.org/pubworks/water.cfm. The public comment period will extend until 4:30 p.m. on May 15, 2011. Public comments need to be submitted in writing to:

City of Durango
Department of Public Works
949 East 2nd Avenue
Durango, Colorado 81301

Comments may also be submitted by email to ossegeja@ci.durango.co.us

A public hearing will be scheduled before the Durango City Council after the public comments have been reviewed in early summer of 2011. For questions, please contact the Public Works Department at 375-4802.

More Animas River watershed coverage here.

Glenwood Springs: New wastewater treatment plant on schedule and under budget

A picture named wastewatertreatmentprocess.jpg

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Heather McGregor):

Workers have poured more than 5,000 cubic yards of concrete, driven nearly 3,000 feet of vertical pilings and hardened more than 18,000 cubic yards of soil at the site. Through the winter months, they dealt with cold and nearly constant shade at the site. “The sun was going down for the day at 10:30 in the morning,” said Buddy Burns, manager of the city’s wastewater treatment system. Now the snow is melting, soils are thawing and the site is mired in mud and puddles…

The city will be paying off the bonds in twice-a-year payments of $958,000 over 21 years, from 2011 through 2032. To cover the bond payments, sewer rates for Glenwood Springs customers have been gradually increasing since 2006. Rates for residential customers have climbed from a minimum of $25.56 in 2007 to a minimum of $47.84 in 2010, and are expected to take another upward jump this spring…

The new wastewater treatment system is actually a series of four projects stretching from the existing plant site at the confluence to the new site at Chatfield Ranch in the far western end of West Glenwood. It includes a new lift station at the existing plant site, a two-mile stretch of pipelines to carry wastewater to the new plant site, a new, mile-long road extending from the west end of Wulfsohn Road to the plant site, and the new plant itself, a complex of three buildings and four giant open tanks.

More wastewater coverage here and here.

Energy policy — nuclear: New power plant for Pueblo County?

A picture named nukeplantcattenomfrance.jpg

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper):

The three-day public hearing this week on the zoning request for the Colorado Energy Park brought out local residents both for and against the proposed plant. Besides their comments, they brought reports, news articles, petitions, books and other items they wanted noted in the official record of the hearing. “There is a lot there,” Commissioner Jeff Chostner acknowledged Friday. A lawyer, he’s accustomed to reviewing stacks of documents. “From a legal perspective, we need to review what’s been presented for the record. The standard for appealing any decision we make is whether we’ve acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner. So it’s going to mean hours of review.”[…]

The commissioners have three possible decisions on April 25. They can deny Banner’s proposal, approve it, or approve it with conditions. Postponing a decision isn’t really an option, said to Gary Raso, the county’s land-use attorney. After the public hearing ended Thursday night, Raso and county staff spent hours reading all of the offered testimony into the official record, which he will maintain at his law office in case the commissioners’ final decision is appealed by Banner to district court. County officials intend to have much of that material available for public review on the county’s website, but that will take some time. “We’ll have copies of everything that’s come in and it’s monumental,” Commissioner Anthony Nunez said. “That’s a reason we’re taking as much time as we are in reaching a decision. We understand whatever we decide could affect not only the current residents of the county but future generations, as well.” While Banner’s proposal is a land-use request, the commissioners actually have broad latitude in making a final decision. The fundamental question argued at the public hearing — is nuclear power safe or dangerous? — could well be the basis of the commissioners’ decision.

“There are zoning standards the commissioners will have to address in their decision, but the overriding purpose in any land-use proposal is whether it will impact the best interests and safety of the public,” Raso said. “So if the commissioners would determine they don’t believe nuclear power is safe, that would be sufficient to deny the application.”

More coverage from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summit County Citizens Voice. From the article:

Wednesday night, the crowd was so big that the commissioners chose to continue the hearing for another night. Nearly all the citizens commenting at the Wednesday hearing referred to the ongoing disintegration of an entire nuclear complex in Japan, citing the potential for a similar disaster in Colorado. A clip of some public comments is online here.

Questions were also raised about the water needed to cool a nuclear reactor in an area where water is even more of a precious commodity than energy.

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

Another strike against nuclear power is the storage of spent nuclear fuels rods, which remain highly radioactive after they’re no longer producing power. The New York Times reports the spent fuel rods still onsite in Japan are now a bigger problem than the stricken reactors.

More coverage from the La Junta Tribune-Democrat (Andrea Flores):

Tuesday, March 14, more than 200 community members, business leaders, engineers, professors, and former nuclear plant workers to name a few, gathered at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center to hear Mr. Banner’s testimony to the commissioners. Banner began his testimony by first expressing his concern and regret for the problems Japan is facing. He went on to say that the nation has progressed in 50 years from black and white televisions to having the technology of iPads and iPhones. Banner went on to say this project would bring national attention to Pueblo. He has received calls from major networks such as NBC and CBS. Following Banner’s presentation to the commissioners, several supporters were allowed to give a three-minute presentation to the commissioners. Fowler realtor Sheila Norton told the commissioners, “I have contacted realtors from areas in the United States who have nuclear plants in their neighborhoods. All have said the property values have sky rocketed as well as new schools being constructed and businesses being built.” A former nuclear power plant worker traveled from Silverthorne to attend the meeting to give her support, saying the workers are well trained, and the plants are operated with the utmost care causing no harm to the environment…

Those who oppose Pueblo attorney Don Banner’s proposed nuclear power plant filled the Sangre De Cristo Arts and Conference Ballroom to capacity on Wednesday, March 15. After a four-hour hearing on Tuesday night, the commissioners asked the speakers to limit their comments to five-minutes and to hold any applause until the entire hearing was over. With a couple dozen people stating their disapproval of allowing this project to occur and testimony lasting another four hours, the commissioners had to continue the hearing on Thursday.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

‘The Poudre Runs Through It’ final session March 24

A picture named cachelapoudre.jpg

From the Northern Colorado Business Report:

The March 24 session will feature Rena Brand, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps of Engineers is charged with reviewing applications for water storage projects. The session will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Larimer County Courthouse, 200 W. Oak St., in Fort Collins. Sponsored by UniverCity Connections, Colorado State University and the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, the sessions are aimed at educating Northern Colorado residents about water issues and the future of the region’s water supply.

More Poudre River watershed coverage here.

Energy policy — nuclear: Operating license for the proposed Piñon Ridge Mill is now in the court case phase

A picture named doloresrivercanyon.jpg

From the Telluride Daily Planet (Katie Klingsporn):

In early February, Telluride environmental organization Sheep Mountain Alliance filed suit against the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in the wake of the agency’s decision to grant a radioactive materials permit to Canadian company Energy Fuels. The suit argued that Colorado regulators violated federal and state laws and ignored dangers to Colorado’s air and water when they issued the permit to Energy Fuels, which plans to build and operate a uranium mill in the stark and remote Paradox Valley. The CDPHE and Energy Fuels have responded — both have filed motions urging the court to dismiss SMA’s suit. The CDPHE filed a motion to dismiss in late February, and last week, Energy Fuels filed its own salvo.

The CDPHE motion, filed by Attorney General John Suthers, argues that SMA lacks the standing to file its lawsuit. “In reality, it is a broad but vague and ill-defined attempt by SMA to interject itself, through this court, into the Department’s day-to-day administration of its radiation control program,” the motion reads. “The Department disputes the vast majority of SMA’s allegations, many of which are misstatement of fact and law, irrelevant, exaggerations and mischaracterizations.” The motion goes on to argue that the court itself can’t restrain an executive branch agency from performing its duties nor does it have jurisdiction to interfere with the department’s exercise of its enforcement discretion.

Energy Fuels’ motion buttresses the CDPHE’s arguments, defends the manner in which the licensing process unfolded and requests that the court hold a hearing on the motions to dismiss as soon as possible following the closing of briefing on April 11. “CDPHE and Energy Fuels held at least 8 public meetings — 6 more than required by statute — regarding Energy Fuels proposed license and provided multiple opportunities for the public to comment on the proposed license,” the motion reads.

Travis Stills, an attorney with Energy Minerals Law Center in Durango, is representing Sheep Mountain Alliance. The position taken in these motions, he said, is that only the applicant for a uranium mill is able to participate in any formal process, whether it be administrative or judicial. “I find that to be an astonishing public policy statement for the CDPHE to make,” Stills said. “They are taking the position basically that it’s nobody’s business but theirs and the industry’s, and that everyone else … should take their three minutes and go away.”

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Colorado Ag Day celebrated at state capitol

A picture named coloradocapitolfront.jpg

From The Colorado Statesman (Marianne Goodland):

The noon conference also featured the presentation of a check for $65,000, representing food and cash donations from the Colorado Ag Council, to five area food banks. The food donations included 130,000 eggs, 40,000 pounds of wheat, 14,000 pounds of onions, and 350 gallons of milk, which will be turned into 250,000 meals.

Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar pointed out that 40 different food commodities are produced in Colorado. Consumers have numerous options when providing nutritious meals for their families and a wealth of local products to choose from, he said. Coloradans treasure its agricultural bounty, and said the governor has said agriculture will be a priority in his administration. Colorado’s challenge, and the nation’s, will be to help feed the global population; in the next 50 years, more food will be needed than in the previous 10,000 years combined, he said.

“Don’t ever buy Idaho potatoes!” said Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, chair of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Schwartz’ district includes the San Luis Valley, which produces much of the state’s potatoes. “Make sure it’s a Colorado potato!”

Representing the U.S. Department of Agriculture, former Sen. Jim Isgar said the Obama administration has put an emphasis on exports, and that in Colorado, $1.65 billion had been exported to other countries from Colorado agriculture, almost $1 billion more than just five years ago.

More ag business coverage from Marianne Goodland writing for The Colorado Statesman. From the article:

Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, spoke at a Monday conference in conjunction with the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The conference focused on improving global exports for small business, including agriculture. Colorado agricultural exports were up 14 percent last year, Vilsack said, and the USDA is projecting a 21 percent increase in 2011. Colorado is an agricultural state, which he said is not appreciated by people outside of the state. Every billion dollars of trade generates 8,500 jobs, and with Colorado’s $1.65 billion in agricultural trade last year, that’s more than 14,000 jobs, he said. “If we can increase [the number of jobs] by 21 percent, obviously we’re talking about more job opportunities and a better bottom line for farmers and ranchers, one that allows them to stay in business and even expand their business.”[…]

One of Colorado’s problems, as identified by Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar and his predecessor, John Stulp, is the flight from the farm, and the reluctance of young people to get into farming. Vilsack said the USDA has several programs to address that issue, such as a beginning farmer and rancher loan program, which provides help to farmers and ranchers to get them started. The program helps beginners with learning how to put a business plan together and how to access USDA products and programs. The USDA also helps with marketing, linking new fruit and vegetable growers with local farmer’s markets, he said.

Silverthorne: Conservation easements seminar March 29

A picture named blueriver.jpg

From Summit Daily News:

A water rights and land conservation educational seminar, “Water on the Land, Keeping Water Local: Protecting Water Rights through Land Conservation,” is scheduled for March 29 from 12:30-5 p.m. at the Silverthorne Pavilion. Presented by the Continental Divide Land Trust and the Colorado Water Trust, the seminar is $65 for Realtors, attorneys and CPAs seeking Continuing Professional Education credits and $15 for those not looking to earn credit. Admission includes handouts, refreshments and a complimentary ticket to Peter McBride’s evening presentation on his new book, “The Colorado River: Flowing through Conflict.”

More Blue River watershed coverage here.