State Engineer Dick Wolfe issues the order to drain Bonny Reservoir

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From The Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

In a letter to Aaron Thompson, area manager for the Bureau of Reclamation based in Grand Island, Nebraka, Wolfe ordered that the release begin as soon as practicable, and in an amount that is the maximum safe and practicable flow through Bonny Dam…

While Colorado is building a pipeline to send water down the North Fork of the Republican River for compact compliance, Kansas has insisted it also meet the compact requirements along the South Fork, which flows from Bonny through the northwest corner of Kansas into Nebraska. The Republican River Water Conservation District has determined the only way Colorado can get into compliance on the South Fork is to drain Bonny Reservoir to eliminate the evaporation that counts against Colorado in computing compact allocations.

More Republican River basin coverage here and here.

CWCB: San Miguel River gets an instream flow right

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Here’s a report from The Telluride Daily Planet (Katie Klingsporn). Click through and read the whole article — Ms. Klingsporn chronicles the history of the flow right. Here’s an excerpt:

Even during spring runoff, the river normally stays below 1,500 cfs, and in winter months, it drops to less than 100 cfs…

The Colorado Water Conservation Board voted 8 to 1 last week to appropriate an instream flow for the lower San Miguel River. Instream flows require that rivers stay at certain minimum levels year round. The recommended minimum flows for the San Miguel range a low of 80 cfs (from Sept. 1-Feb. 29) to a high of 325 cfs (from April 15-June 14). The decision affects the 17 miles of the river from Calamity Draw to the confluence with the Dolores River…

[April Montgomery, the Dolores/San Juan/San Miguel Basin representative on the CWCB] said she feels that there was ample time for the public to study and understand the process and give input, and she felt the BLM and CDOW recommendations were solid. “The importance of this and I guess the reason that I believe that it will hopefully benefit the San Miguel watershed in the long-run, is it will hopefully postpone delay indefinitely of an endangered species issue on the San Miguel,” she said. She added that she believes it’s a long-term benefit to the local boating and river recreation economy.

More San Miguel River watershed coverage here and here.

Energy policy — oil and gas: Produced Water Development LLC is hoping to provide a new water source in the water short South Platte River basin

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Steve Porter):

It’s estimated that 90 percent of the liquid brought up through drilling is ‘produced’ water while only 10 percent is oil. Until recently, that produced water has been seen as a waste product and a liability to oil and gas drilling companies, with some of the vast quantities simply reinjected back into the ground in geologically sealed wells. But there’s a company that’s aiming to take that waste product and turn it into a valuable commodity.

Produced Water Development LLC is a spinoff company of Fort Collins-based Stewart Environmental. The company is partnering with Houston-based Energy Water Solutions to marry SE’s filtering technology with EWS’ sales and marketing to create a new water resource in the always-thirsty West…

The water used for fracking must be fresh, cleaned of the inorganic salts, hydrocarbons, solids, metals, dissolved gases, bacteria and other living organisms found in produced water. Oil and gas companies can have their own produced water cleaned with the devices patented by Produced Water Development and reuse it for their fracking operations. But even if there’s too much water to reuse for their own purposes, the produced water can be sold and recycled for agricultural, industrial, even municipal drinking uses…

“Every drop of water in Colorado is spoken for,” [Dave Stewart, founder of Stewart Environmental and Produced Water Development LLC] said. “This is the only new resource for water now, and the last thing we should do is pump it down a well.” Stewart said the recently patented technology can clean produced water to the point that it can be consumed by animals and humans. “We can actually take (all contaminants) out,” he said. “We can discharge to a cold-water fishery and not have an issue.”[…]

Under Produced Water’s business plan, oil and gas companies would lease a filtering plant from the company. The date of the installation of the first filtering device into the field has not yet been confirmed, said Shasha, who notes that oil and gas companies still have a learning curve before they start lining up to use the new technology.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Colorado State University Water Expert Publishes Book to Help Private Industry Tackle Public Projects

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Here’s the release from Colorado State University (Emily Narvaes Wilmsen):

Neil Grigg has written a dozen books in his 30 years at Colorado State University, but his most recent is the first directed at industry’s growing role in public water infrastructure projects.

“Water Finance: Public Responsibilities and Private Opportunities,” published by Wiley, focuses on creating public/private partnerships within the water industry.

“We’ve got so many unmet infrastructure needs and water needs in the country,” Grigg said. “It’s hard to convince people to invest in these, and the government’s having a hard time all the time. The action is going to shift to the private sector.”

As an example, he pointed to the Colorado Department of Transportation, which is seeking private companies to improve congestion along the I-70 corridor.

“The government doesn’t have enough money to expand the highway, but if a private sector company can offer some way to solve the problem without raising tax money, you’ve got a win-win deal,” he said.

Closer to home in Fort Collins, industry, education and government officials have formed the Colorado Water Innovation Cluster to share information and collaborate on water-related projects. The cluster highlights the region’s water capabilities and addresses workforce gaps. The collaboration helps to identify new market opportunities, he said.

“There are a lot of opportunities for private companies to develop products and services for the water industry,” Grigg said. “The water industry is very diluted. It’s got a lot of small parts.”

Grigg is a civil engineering professor and renowned water resources engineering consultant who has been at Colorado State since 1967. He is an expert in Colorado’s water history, drought management, government water resources planning, Western water management issues and water system infrastructure engineering.

Among his other books is “Colorado’s Water: Science and Management, History and Politics,” a book that presents long-range views about Colorado’s water issues, including drought. He has authored or co-authored about 200 publications and several other books about water resources engineering and infrastructure.

Researchers have sustainably produced hydrogen gas, a potential source of clean energy, using only water and bacteria

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From Science Magazine (Sid Perkins):

Hydrogen may be the ultimate clean fuel because burning it—in chemical terms, reacting it with oxygen—yields only water vapor. Previously, researchers have produced hydrogen gas in microbial-powered, batterylike fuel cells, but only when they supplemented the energy produced by the bacteria with electrical energy from external sources—such as that obtained from renewable sources or burning fossil fuels, says Bruce Logan, an environmental engineer at Pennsylvania State University, University Park. Also, by using devices that contain large stretches of permeable membranes that separate salt water from fresh, scientists have tapped the voltage difference that exists between them. But those devices create only a voltage difference; they don’t generate the electrical current required to produce hydrogen, Logan notes. Hydrogen atoms are formed in such devices only when electrons flow into a fluid where they can combine with hydrogen ions; those atoms in turn combine with each other to create hydrogen gas.

Now, Logan and Penn State environmental engineer Younggy Kim report online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they’ve done something no other team has: They’ve successfully combined the two types of devices to generate hydrogen without any external sources of energy whatsoever. The prototype device contains two small chambers—one holding the bacteria and their nutrients, the other holding salty water where the hydrogen was produced—that are separated by five stacked cells through which the researchers circulated fresh water and salt water. Together, these stacked cells generated between 0.5 and 0.6 volts—enough, the researchers say, to enable hydrogen production in the microbial fuel cell, in which bacteria feed on acetate compounds.

For each 30 milliliters of sodium acetate solution provided for the bacteria, the device generated between 21 and 26 milliliters of hydrogen gas over the course of a day. Admittedly, this is a small volume, about four times the amount of fuel in a disposable lighter, but it’s enough to prove that the hydrogen-generating concept works in the lab, the researchers contend. Although the equipment needed to produce the hydrogen is expensive, the device needs no external source of energy—and therefore no greenhouse gases are generated during the process.

‘Colorado Water 2012’ scores $25,000 from the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District allocated $25,000 Wednesday to help with the Colorado Water 2012 initiative in the Arkansas River basin.

The initiative is an effort by the state’s water community to commemorate several events, including the 50th anniversary of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, and the 75th anniversary of the Colorado Big-Thompson Project, which led to the formation of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Colorado River Conservation District and Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District…

The Lower Ark board intends to stay involved for the planning of Colorado Water 2012 as a way to promote its mission of keeping water in the Arkansas River basin. [Perry Cabot, a research scientist with Colorado State University Extension] outlined a broad approach that builds on activities in the state and in the valley to celebrate water next year. For example, it will tie into the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s plans to mark the 50th anniversary of Fry-Ark and the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum in Leadville next spring. There are other water education programs being initiated by CSU Extension as well.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.