Climate change: ‘How the West Was Warmed’ event at Chautauqua Auditorium August 18

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Here’s the link to the flier from Beth Conover. The event includes remarks from Governor Hickenlooper.

Back over the summer of 2005 Ms. Conover and then Mayor Hickenlooper teamed up for a series of education pieces on water called, Wringing Water from the Rocks. It was a hoot.

Eagle County water providers’ consumer confidence reports available online

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From the Vail Daily (Lauren Glendenning):

In Eagle County, many municipalities provide their own water supplies to their citizens, and the county’s largest suppliers — the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority — are reporting high marks in their recently released 2010 consumer confidence reports. “Managing the public water system is about protecting public health,” Eagle River Water and Sanitation District Water Division Manager Todd Fessenden said. “It’s important to inform people about their water supply.”[…]

The consumer confidence reports are required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and they show lists of the various contaminants found in local water supplies. Each public water supplier is required by law to produce the annual reports — something the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water, does not require of the bottled water industry. The contaminants shown in the reports are the contaminants that were detected in that water supply during thousands of water quality tests that are performed over the course of any year. Even the cleanest of water supplies will show some levels of some contaminants. “The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk,” the 2010 Water District report says…

The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority reports are available online at http://www.erwsd.org/quality/drinking-water-quality.
The town of Eagle’s report is available at http://www.townofeagle.org, under “news and information.”
The town of Minturn’s report is available at http://www.minturn.org.
The town of Gypsum’s report is available at http://www.townofgypsum.com, under “document center.”

More water treatment coverage here.

Trout Unlimited plans a documentary highlighting the Dolores River watershed

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From the Cortez Journal (Kimberly Benedict):

“We are really working to highlight the Dolores River basin and the hunting, angling and local culture that is tied so closely to this river,” said Matt Clark, SCP’s backcountry coordinator for the southwest corner of the San Juan Mountains and the river basin. “We want to bring attention to why people think this is such a great resource.”

Planning efforts in the area have already begun to address issues like roadless areas, conservation easements and water quality. Clark emphasized that conservation incorporates many uses and despite Trout Unlimited’s association with fishing, the Dolores River basin campaign is larger than just the quest of hooking a highcountry fish. “We are laying the foundation for whole watershed protection,” Clark said. “It is about the fish and the watershed around them. This is a very intentional campaign and every arm of TU has some involvement in the Dolores.”[…]

[Kris Millgate, an award-winning freelance videographer and outdoor journalist and CEO of Tight Line Media] role…was to document the day and to interview local anglers like Perry for a 10 to 15 minute Trout Unlimited-sponsored documentary highlighting the Dolores River basin. While local organizers have set a vision for the documentary, it is up to Millgate to cull the pertinent information and create a finished product that conveys the emotion behind the basin campaign…

“The Dolores is still really wild,” Clark said. “This is not a degraded watershed and there is not a huge amount of impact. We want to be sure we get ahead of any negative impacts and make sure the values and experience that exist now for hunters and anglers and all users remain into the future.”

Toward that end, TU is keeping an eye on local land management issues and working to complete the documentary as well as the collaboration with Field and Stream. Millgate visited the area last winter and will come again this fall to finalize her footage.

More Dolores River watershed coverage here.

Aspinall Unit update: Inflows drop, Reclamation to start dropping outflows, 2,200 cfs in the Black Canyon Wednesday

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From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Inflows to Blue Mesa Reservoir have been steadily decreasing over the last week and side inflows to Morrow Point and Crystal Reservoirs have dropped significantly. Blue Mesa Reservoir is now at elevation 7518.2 and both Morrow Point and Crystal Reservoirs have lost some storage over the last week. Therefore releases from Crystal Reservoir will be decreased by a total of 500 cfs over the next 2 days. Flows will decrease 300 cfs today, July 26th, and 200 cfs tomorrow, July 27th. This should bring flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon down to around 2200 cfs by Wednesday afternoon.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

Runoff/precipitation news: Fryingpan-Arkansas Project water users will receive their full appropriation this season

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The project so far has brought over 94,000 acre-feet of water, which is the second-highest amount of water imported by the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project since 1972, after the completion of the Boustead Tunnel from the Fryingpan River into Turquoise Lake…

“The water will be available at a time when flows in this basin are beginning to drop off,” said Bob Hamilton, engineering director for the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District…

The Pueblo Board of Water Works — entitled to 10 percent of the project’s yield — took no water, and like Colorado Springs and Aurora, even leased excess water to agriculture in the Arkansas Valley. As a result, nearly 60,000 acre-feet of Fry-Ark water — roughly the equivalent of annual diversions to the Bessemer Ditch — will go to farmers, the vast majority of whom irrigate east of Pueblo, where a yearlong drought has made the additional water critical.

The Boustead Tunnel was still bringing over about 500 acre-feet per day Monday, but the amount is slowly dropping, said Roy Vaughan, Fry-Ark manager for the Bureau of Reclamation. “There is still a little snow very high in the mountains, but it’s dropped off,” Vaughan said…

The river was running at 1,380 cubic feet per second west of the Royal Gorge on Monday, about one-third of its highest levels this year but above average for late July. There are no advisories on rafting or kayaking in the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, but boaters are reminded to watch for changing conditions.

From the Associated Press via The Columbus Republic:

Farmers tell the Greeley Tribune they anticipate an average yield. But they say recent afternoon storms in the area are giving their crops “water stains,” which can indicate mold. Farmers won’t know how their crops have done in the wet weather until they receive germination tests.

“What we need now is hot, dry, breezy weather,” Bill Markham of M&M Farms near Berthoud said after test cutting in his fields Thursday afternoon but stopping early due to the amount of moisture still on the crop. “The only way we’re going to make any progress is if we get the rain to stay out of here.”

From the Summit Daily News (Janice Kurbjin):

With inflow to Dillon Reservoir dropping [ed. as of July 19] substantially from last week, Denver Water is focusing on topping off the water storage area — which means cutting the outflow through the dam from about 1,600 cfs to about 1,350 cfs. The reservoir level is 1.21 feet below the spillway. The inflow to the reservoir dropped to 1,446 cubic feet per second Sunday, and the reservoir elevation dropped 0.09 feet. Early last week, inflows had nearly reached 2,200 cfs, but by the end of the week had dropped to just over 1,950 cfs.

Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety officials are exploring the Pennsylvania Mine to try to determine how to lessen acid mine drainage from Peru Creek into the Snake River

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From the Summit Daily News (Janice Kurbjin):

The mine is among nearly 400 others in the area, but is the main target for stream improvements that don’t involve actually treating the water — cost and liability assumed under current law inhibits a third-party treatment system. “We see a noticeable spike (in zinc concentrations) when Peru Creek runs by the Pennsylvania Mine,” said Ryan Durham, remedial project manager with the Environmental Protection Agency…

Some experts contend that the hillsides above Peru Creek are rich with metals that leach naturally, but most officials on this particular project agree that while there may be natural metal deposits occurring to make the creek a consistently uninhabitable place for fish, it’s likely the mine is a big player in sending metals downstream and causing low pH in the water. Downstream, in the Snake River above the Dillon Reservoir, the water is diluted enough by clean stream inflows for fish to live and reproduce…

The proposed next step should allow further investigation of the amount of water that actually discharges from the mine (including groundwater sources), where and in what condition the water enters the mine, flow paths within the workings, and the accessibility of the mine’s innards. The end goal is finding a feasible control remedy. Proposed solutions currently include building a bulkhead to protect against surge events, sealing entry sources so clean surface water isn’t contaminated and, separating clean water paths from dirty water paths to consolidate the waste.

More water pollution coverage here.

USGS: Piceance Basin surface and groundwater online database meeting in Rifle Thursday

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Here’s the release the Middle Colorado River Partnership via the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey will present an overview of an online databank to track changes in surface water and groundwater resources of the Piceance Basin, and provide an update of a water resources assessment for the basin.

Ken Leib and David Brown will make the presentation at a meeting of the Middle Colorado River Watershed Partnership. The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, July 28, at the Garfield Re-2 School District Administration Building, 839 Whitewater Ave., Rifle.

The Piceance Basin covers much of northwestern Colorado. As energy development continues within the basin, the West Divide Water Conservancy District is seeking to understand the potential for changes in surface water and groundwater.

In partnership with local governments and energy companies, West Divide entered into an agreement with the USGS to create a common data repository to support the planning, conservation and management of water resources within the basin.

West Divide received a $300,000 mineral impact fund grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for the project. Matching funds were provided by West Divide, Colorado River Water Conservation District, Garfield County, Delta County, USGS, the city of Grand Junction, the towns of Silt, Carbondale and Parachute, Encana Oil & Gas, Williams Production, Chevron, Shell Exploration & Production, Genesis Energy and Berry Petroleum.

Information gathered in the repository will be used to develop a baseline assessment of the region’s water resources. The results from the assessment will be used to develop regional monitoring strategies to fill data gaps and minimize information redundancies.

In addition to the water resources assessment effort, the USGS has launched a website to provide the public immediate access to the water quality data gathered for the basin.

“The purpose of the website is to provide all stakeholders with equal access to this important information,” said Jude Thomas, a hydrologist with USGS. “A database such as this is an important tool in understanding changes in water quality over time.”

The website is at http://rmgsc.cr. usgs.gov/cwqdr/Piceance/index.shtml.

Sam Potter, president of the West Divide District, said the USGS assessment and website will be useful tools in understanding the relationship between energy exploration and water resources.

“There is a tremendous amount of water sampling data out there from government entities, water districts and energy companies. Until now, however, it hasn’t been aggregated and presented in a format that is easily accessible to the public,” he said.

“This repository is a boon for anyone with an interest in understanding water quality in this region-landowners, energy companies, regulators, and public officials,” Potter added.

Otero Junior College to Offer New Water Quality Management Technology Program

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Here’s the release from Otero Junior College via Water World:

Otero Junior College is pleased to announce that a new certificate program in Water Quality Management Technology will begin on August 22 with the start of Fall Semester. The new program will include two certificates, Water Treatment and Waste Water Treatment, each requiring one semester of study. Upon completion of the certificates, students will be prepared to sit for the Colorado Water and Wastewater Facility Operators Certification Board operator’s certification test at the C and D levels.

Dr. David Cockrell, associate vice president of instruction at Otero Junior College, explained that the new certificate program is currently the only program of its kind in the state offered by a community college outside of the Denver-metro area.

“We’re very happy to be able to offer this program of study that shows some great potential for employment demand over the coming years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, the demand for new employment opportunities in Colorado is projected to increase by 21 percent by 2018. The salary range for 2009 was between $36,000 for entry-level to over $60,000 for experienced operators,” said Cockrell.

Cockrell explained that the program will be offered during a time frame that is convenient for students who may already be working in the field or have other employment.

“During Fall Semester we will be offering WQM 124: Water Certification Review for Class C & D, and WQM 120: Water Quality Equipment Maintenance on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The completion of both classes allows a student to sit for the C and D Water Treatment certification tests. During the Spring Semester students can complete two more classes that will prepare them for the class C and D Waste Water Treatment certification exam. Within two semesters, a student can complete both certificates,” said Cockrell.

Cockrell explained that the new program is open to anyone interested in obtaining a Class C & D operator’s licenses.

“We’re hoping to generate some new interest in this field of study as well as provide the required training needed by people who are already working in local water company systems and city water systems,” he said.

Jack Barker, president of Innovative Water Technologies, Inc., in Rocky Ford, is a member of the advisory committee for the new Water Quality Management Technology program at OJC. Barker was instrumental in helping to develop the program and said he is extremely pleased to see the program getting started at OJC.

“This program will help meet the pressing need statewide for certified operators in water and wastewater. Our company was very happy to be in on the development of this important training venue for current and future water quality professionals,” said Barker.

Joe Kelley, director of La Junta Water and Wastewater Treatment, chairs the OJC Water Quality Management Advisory Committee.

“This is a great program to see come to OJC. The college has worked hard to make sure that all the courses being taught in the program have been approved by the Colorado Water and Wastewater Facilities Operators Certification Board and that they satisfy the minimum experience requirement for eligibility to sit for the class “D” operator’s exam,” said Kelley.

Fall classes will be taught by Scott Duff, director of the Rocky Ford City Water and Waste Water Department.

For more information and registration, contact the OJC Office of Student Services at 719 384-6831, or visit http://www.ojc.edu/cteWaterQual.aspx.

More water treatment coverage here.