South Platte River basin: Sand Creek Volunteer Work Day September 3

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From the Sand Creek Regional Greenway via the Commerce City Sentinel:

The eighth annual REI/Sand Creek Greenway Volunteer Work Day will be from 8 a.m. to noon, Sept. 3, at the Smith Road Trailhead west of Havana Street.

It’s a joint project between the greenway partnership, Denver Parks and Recreation, Aurora Parks Recreation and Open Space and Commerce City Parks and Recreation.

Crew leaders will work with groups of volunteers to maintain the greenway’s urban wilderness. The native prairie habitat is home to many species of animals and it is enjoyed by many including hikers, runners, cyclists, and horseback riders.

Volunteers meet in the parking lot on Smith Road, west of Havana Street in Denver. Wear long pants, sturdy footwear and work gloves, if available. The groups work in Denver, in Sand Creek Park in Aurora and around the Wetlands Park in Commerce City.

Opportunities are available for adults and children 8 and older. Pets are not permitted. Participants will receive an REI tech T-shirt, morning snacks, lunch and beverages.

Preregister online at either http://www.volunteeroutdoors.net or http://www.sandcreekgreenway.org. Contact the Sand Creek Regional Greenway at 303-468-3262 or via email at bschubert@sandcreeekgreenway.org.

More South Platte River basin coverage here.

Work begins on Clark Reservoir enlargement

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From the North Forty News (Cherry Sokoloski):

The project is part of Phase I of the Boxelder Basin Regional Stormwater Authority project, designed to reduce flooding along Boxelder Creek. Three ponds, each several acres in size, will be built. When they are finished, likely early this month, dredging of Clark Reservoir will begin. The dredge pump will pump water-laden sediment into the ponds, where sediment will separate from the water and settle to the bottom. The water will then be pumped into the Inlet Canal and returned to Clark Reservoir. Dredging is scheduled to be completed by late November, according to authority manager Rex Burns.

More stormwater coverage here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: West slope conservationists worry that Governor Hickenlooper’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission appointments lean too heavily towards those companies being regulated

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From the Washington Independent (David O. Williams):

“The new commission lacks a member who is intimately aware of Western Slope community impacts,” said Frank Smith of Western Colorado Congress. “We’re cautiously optimistic but concerned about the ability of the new COGCC to protect public health and Colorado air and water.”

Republican Fort Lupton Mayor Tommy Holton is a new appointee who replaces former Democratic Garfield County Commissioner Trési Houpt as the local government official on the board.

Other new commission members include Republican John Benton, a vice president and general manager for Rex Energy in Denver; Democrat W. Perry Pearce, manager of state government affairs for ConocoPhillips/Burlington Resources; and Democrat Andrew Lawrence Spielman, a natural resource attorney at Hogan Lovells in Denver.

Thomas Compton of Hesperus and Richard D. Alward of Grand Junction were both reappointed to the board that’s also comprised of Mike King, executive director of the Department of Natural Resources, Dr. Chris Urbina, executive director of the Department of Public Health and Environment, and Republican petroleum engineer Dolly Ann “DeAnn” Craig.

“The new COGCC will have tough decisions to make, and some of these will highlight their allegiances and values,” Smith added. “COGCC will make big decisions related to drilling in and near communities and updating fracking [hydraulic fracturing] regulations. The poor economy led the previous COGCC to expedite drilling and, some may say, place less of an emphasis on understanding natural gas’s impacts to public health.”

Meanwhile, the first meeting of the new board is next week, according to Gene Sears writing for the Fort Lupton Press. From the article:

“Not much time to get ready, so I will be doing some studying over the weekend and make sure I’m up to speed,” [Fort Lupton Mayor Tommy Holton] said. “I was up to speed at one time when we were doing so much with the oil and gas, especially when they brought in the 318-A rule (The Greater Wattenberg Area special well location rule that governs the placement of wells in the Wattenberg field).

“Different voices and a united spirit of collaboration are key to the success of the commission,” Hickenlooper said in a release detailing the appointments. “We are confident this group will help serve the industry, land owners and the environment well as it navigates through issues that are important to both the state’s economy and protection of Colorado’s beautiful landscapes.”

It’s a vision Holton says he shares, bringing along his unique perspective from a lifetime of interaction with oil and gas development, starting at home. “From dealing on the farm with oil and gas, and then dealing with the county on oil and gas and then with the city, it is just something I am interested in. I think Weld County does need representation there, seeing as how 37 percent of the production in the state comes from Weld County. It just makes sense to have someone there,” Holton said.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Opinion: State Representative J. Paul Brown wants to see more storage particularly on the eastern plains

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From The Durango Herald (J. Paul Brown):

Last year, 600,000 acre-feet of Colorado water flowed through the Eastern Plains to Nebraska, water that if stored in Colorado would satisfy that demand. This year, it is estimated that 1 million acre-feet of our water will go to eastern states downstream.

It is imperative that we build water-storage projects in Colorado, especially on the Front Range. I’m convinced that with adequate water storage, places east of the Continental Divide won’t need Western Slope water.

We can all agree that we like to eat, and it is kind of nice to spend less than 10 percent of our income on food. It is truly an honor to be one of a handful of Colorado legislators who are agricultural producers. Agriculture is the second-largest sector of Colorado’s diverse economy with cash receipts of more than $6.3 billion and providing more than 105,000 jobs.

More Colorado water coverage here.

Fountain Creek: ‘Dirt-A-Tracter’ sediment collector is working as planned so far, Colorado Springs plans more installations if evaluation project is successful

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From the Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

Located just above the confluence of Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River, the collector is designed not only to remove clogs that contribute to flooding, but also to improve conditions for aquatic life. The 400 cubic yards a day of sandy material it removes will be used to extend the Palo Verde Trail and expand levees in Pueblo.

If it’s successful during its one-year test period, others could be installed along the creek, says Larry Small, former Springs City Councilman and executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District, which spearheaded the project. And it might help to improve relations between Pueblo and Colorado Springs…

The collector, dubbed the “Dirt-A-Tracter,” is the Watershed District’s first tangible project. The second is a detention pond in northeast Pueblo, funded with $700,000 in state and federal grants, that’s to become operational in September. But the district faces $200 million worth of projects, as outlined in a soon-to-be-released long-range master plan.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” Small says. “That 44-mile corridor is in pretty bad shape.”

He notes the district has authority to levy up to 5 mills in property tax, with approval of voters in both El Paso and Pueblo counties, but any ballot measure would be years away. The district also can impose fees, but there’s no talk of doing so within the 692-square-mile watershed. As Small says: “You know how successful the stormwater fee was in Colorado Springs.” (The city’s Stormwater Enterprise was dismantled following a 2009 ballot measure.)[…]

Small says Colorado State University-Pueblo will monitor the collector system’s impact on sediment and aquatic life over the next year.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.