Conservation: Boulder city agencies cut consumption 19 percent over the past three years

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From the Boulder Daily Camera (Heath Urie):

“We’ve decreased our usage by 19 percent,” said Joanna Crean, a project manager for the city’s public works department. A recent report to the City Council shows that some city departments saw double-digit reductions in their water consumption between 2008 and 2010. Conservation efforts and fixing leaky pipes helped the Housing and Human Services division reduce its water use by 34 percent, while the Boulder Municipal Airport used 33 percent less water and Boulder police used 15 percent less water over the past three years. In total, the city has reduced its indoor water use by 5.5 million gallons, while its outdoor water usage has dropped by 43.3 million gallons.

More conservation coverage here.

Snowpack/Precipitation news: Grand County is taking an early look at potential flooding

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

If this spring is anything like last year when the high country experienced consecutive hot days during peak runoff, there’s a chance of flooding, officials say.

Snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin contains 142 percent of the average water content for this time of year, meaning it’s a “pretty robust year” for snowpack, said Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District spokesperson Dana Strongin. In fact, in an April 5 “Runoff Update,” Northern blogged: “Some of us are using words like ‘epic’ to describe the West Slope snowpack.”

The Grand County Office of Emergency Management has held its first meeting with town managers and public works directors to talk about planning for high water levels and coordinating with dam operators…

The Fraser River Basin is at about 136 percent of average for snowpack water content…

The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District is planning controlled releases out of Granby Dam in its preparation for the runoff season. As of Wednesday, April 6, Granby Dam elevation sat at 22 feet from full. Willow Creek snowpack is at 150 percent of average. Beginning April 6, releases from Granby Dam into the Colorado River increased by 60 cfs. Another increase brought the flow below the dam to 140 cfs. Another change on Friday is planned to bring the flow to about 200 cfs through the weekend. Northern is also making changes at Willow Creek Dam. Flows in Willow Creek below the dam could be as high as 350 cfs.

From the Snowmass Sun (Scott Condon):

Skiers and riders have been treated to powder days with four or more inches of fresh snow on 29 days this season at Snowmass and 23 days at Aspen Mountain. Chances are they might score more before the two ski areas close Sunday. Snowmass has collected the most snow of the four local ski areas, tallying 316 inches so far this season since Nov. 1, according to the Aspen Skiing Co. Snow is forecast for Friday through Sunday.

Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill superfund site update: Trichloroethene is spreading in the groundwater around the site

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

State regulators Friday confirmed [trichloroethene] in the toxic and radioactive waste from the mill, adjacent to Cañon City, and said they’ve asked Cotter to investigate. “It’s in the groundwater. It’s not in the public drinking water supply that we know of,” said Jeanine Natterman, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Cañon City’s 16,000 residents, many of whose wells already are tainted, received no notification. “Nothing surprises me anymore,” because the plant “is like an octopus with 20 arms,” said Sharyn Cunningham, 64, who lives 1 1/2 miles away and co-chairs Colorado Citizens Against Toxic Waste.

More Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill superfund site coverage here.

Colorado River Basin: The impacted nature of the riparian environment at the headwaters should drive the environmental analysis of moving more water to the Front Range

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Guaranteed flows would be a great start. Flushing flows at times. Something similar to the settlement over flows through Black Canyon. Click here for a video of the Crystal Dam Spill last May (William Woody and The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel).

Here’s a report about current impacts from Scott Willoughby writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

…the network of pipes eventually grows to include tunnels with names like Harold D. Roberts, Gumlick, Vasquez and Moffat that stretch across the Divide to move acres of water out of the Blue, Williams Fork, Fraser and other mountain streams. Rather than joining the collective headwaters that unite to form fish and wildlife habitat in the Colorado River, that water winds up in sprinklers and car washes, beer bottles and bathroom spigots along the Front Range.

More of that water is targeted for removal as Colorado’s population continues to swell. Proposals on the table from Denver Water and Northern Water Conservancy District to divert additional water from the Fraser, Williams Fork, Blue and Upper Colorado rivers are designed to keep water supply ahead of demand in municipalities from Denver to Greeley.

Yet, even as the water entities lay out plans required to mitigate the impacts on fish and wildlife from their Moffat Collection System and Windy Gap Firming Project, it’s increasingly evident that these troubled waters can’t accommodate the demands already placed on them. Aquatic species ranging from green drake mayflies to mottled sculpin minnows already have disappeared, whatever the blame. The whole situation is a hot mess. We can’t manufacture water. And apparently we can’t manage it very well, either.

More Moffat Collection System Project coverage here and here.