Machiavelli and a possible reason for the resistance to climate science’s conclusion that the earth is warming due to anthropmorphic influences


I read his book The Prince years ago in a course about political philosophy. Here’s a quote from The New York Times weblog Dot Earth (Andrew Revkin):

“It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries, who have the laws in their favor; and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.” — The Prince.

Thanks to Loretta Lohman for the link.

October 12 issue of the Intermoutain West Climate Summary is now online


Here’s the link to the webpage. Here’s the summary:

Temperature — Temperatures for September were warmer than average across nearly all of the region.

Precipitation — September was generally drier than average across the region, and especially dry in Wyoming, northern Utah, and southeastern Colorado.

ENSO — After a brief hiatus this summer, La Niña conditions have re-emerged and are expected to persist through the winter season.

Climate Outlooks — Consistent with the La Niña conditions, in the late fall and winter seasons, the CPC seasonal outlooks call for some enhanced risk of warmer and drier conditions in the extreme southern portions of our region, and of wetter conditions in the northern portions.

Thanks to the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn) for the heads up. Click through for Mr. Berwyn’s post on the issue.

Colorado Water 2012 launches their book club


Here’s the link to the webpage. Here’s what they have to say:

Welcome to the Water 2012 Book Club!

Please join Colorado authors Pete McBride, Jon Waterman, Craig Childs, Will Hobbs, Greg Hobbs, George Sibley and Patty Limerick as you read and discuss their books.

The theme of the Water 2012 Book Club is the adventure, fun and challenge of Colorado’s most precious resource, water.

As the 2012 year of water celebration unfolds starting this coming January when Governor John Hickenlooper kicks off the celebration, these authors will be presenting and discussing their books in person, online, and through live and recorded video, webinar, facebook and blog programs.

More details to follow! We encourage you to share this list with other book club members and we look forward to your participation!

Water 2012 Book Club Selections

The Statewide Books for 2012

General Audience:

The Colorado River, Flowing Through Conflict by Peter McBride and Jonathan Waterman

The Colorado River from it’s headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park to its delta in Mexico is beautiful, used, stressed and deserving of protection. Peter McBride Jonathan Waterman

House of Rain by Craig Childs

The ancestral Puebloans of the Colorado River Plateau, how they lived on the land, adapted in a water short region and migrated to sustain themselves. Craig Childs

Young Adult Audience:

River Thunder by Will Hobbs

Three young women and three young men learn about themselves and how to pull together through the crashing waves of the Grand Canyon. Will Hobbs

Regional Programs: To Be Announced

First Quarter 2012:

The Colorado River, Flowing Through Conflict and House of Rain

Second Quarter 2012:

River Thunder and

Living the Four Corners, Colorado Centennial State at the Headwaters by Justice Greg Hobbs

There is nothing so inspiring and challenging as living in the Four Corners States of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, where water is life and its careful use and preservation is a necessity. Living the Four Corners

Third Quarter 2012:

Conserving the Headwaters, The Colorado River District at 75 by George Sibley

The Colorado River Water Conservation District grows into its role of being the western Colorado steward of the state’s water treasure. CRWCD

Fourth Quarter 2012:

A Ditch in Time, Denver, the West, and Water by Patricia Limerick

How a great and growing city on the eastern plains learns to cross many political, legal, and cultural divides. Center of the American West

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

The Town of Ophir joins Telluride lawsuit over the licensing of the proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill


From The Telluride Watch:

The Town of Ophir has joined the Town of Telluride in seeking to intervene in a lawsuit challenging licensure of the mill because the public was not allowed to have a meaningful role in the process, as required by both state and federal law.

Public Justice, the national public interest law firm, represents both Ophir and Telluride, each about 50 miles from Piñon Ridge’s proposed location in the Paradox Valley of Montrose County, Colo. Critics note the potential dangers from milling uranium – namely, toxic and radioactive air and water contamination.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Brush: The city council sets priorities, completion of the wastewater treatment plant, purchasing water rights, conservation and stormwater improvements are on the list


From the Brush News Tribune (Iva Kay Horner):

At Monday night’s meeting of the council, City Administrator Monty Torres presented the list, with the top priority for council targeted at completing the wastewater treatment facility. “We’re well underway with that project and expect it to be completed in the next 12 months,” Torres commented.

Also on the list is to continue improving water resources and upgrading of the water distribution system, with Torres further explaining that council consider, when given the opportunity, of purchasing water rights or shares if it will benefit the city. Along the same lines, the administrator noted that officials also continue with water conservation…

Listed at number five on the list is storm water improvements with the downtown area at the top of the list. “There are five areas in the city that have pretty significant flooding but the top priority is downtown where we are enlarging the water lines. We also are looking at the storm water pond,” the city administrator stated.

Here’s a post from last February that has been getting a lot of traffic on Coyote Gulch, Brush wastewater treatment plant construction update.

More South Platte River basin coverage here.

Fountain Creek: Colorado appeals court rules that the Pueblo District Attorney is not authorized to sue Colorado Springs for pollution under the Clean Water Act


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nixes Thiebaut’s intention to sue the city again for discharging pollutants from its sewage system into the creek. Thiebaut said, however, his 2005 lawsuit, under the federal clean water law, prompted Colorado Springs to improve its sewage system, which discharges into the creek. “It is important to take stock of what this suit has accomplished for our community,” Thiebaut said. “No one has ever stood up against Colorado Springs on behalf of Pueblo before this suit was filed.”[…]

Thiebaut said Wednesday his lawsuit “woke up Colorado Springs to the fact that they would no longer get away with their shoddy practices and cheap stream crossings. “To avoid the full power of the court, they began to spend a lot of money to clean up their act, improving their sewage treatment system and stream crossings — and they need to do even more,” he said…

The Denver-based appeals court’s 3-0 decision said Thiebaut had conceded he, as an individual citizen, was entitled to have sued Colorado Springs under the federal water law. He chose, instead, to sue in his official capacity as district attorney. The appeals court agreed with [U.S. District Court judge, Walker Miller, who threw out Thiebaut’s lawsuit in 2007] that the Colorado law which outlines the duties of district attorneys does not give them authority to sue under the Clean Water Act.

Here’s the order from

More coverage from Associated Press via The Durango Herald:

Thiebaut’s lawsuit in 2005 argued that discharges of sewage between 1998 and 2007 were violating the Clean Water Act, hurting Fountain Creek and affecting Pueblo County’s economy. His lawsuit sought civil penalties. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a district court that found Thiebaut couldn’t file a citizen Clean Water Act lawsuit in his official capacity. Thiebaut said his office was reviewing the ruling before deciding what’s next…

The Sierra Club also sued over the spills. A judge fined the utility $35,500 to settle the Sierra Club’s claims.

Colorado Springs Utilities’ pipes cross creeks dozens of times, leaving them somewhat at risk in times of rainstorms, utility spokesman Steve Berry said. He said that since 2004, before Thiebaut sued, the municipal utility has invested more than $147 million in improving its wastewater collection system, which he said is now among the best-performing systems in the state. It expects to have spent $250 million by 2018, he said.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

USGS: Hydrogeologic Setting and Simulation of Groundwater Flow near the Canterbury and Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnels, Leadville, Colorado


Here’s the release from the U.S. Geological Survey (Wellman, T.P./Paschke, S.S./Minsley, Burke/Dupree, J.A.):

The Leadville mining district is historically one of the most heavily mined regions in the world producing large quantities of gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper, and manganese since the 1860s. A multidisciplinary investigation was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, to characterize large-scale groundwater flow in a 13 square-kilometer region encompassing the Canterbury Tunnel and the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel near Leadville, Colorado. The primary objective of the investigation was to evaluate whether a substantial hydraulic connection is present between the Canterbury Tunnel and Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel for current (2008) hydrologic conditions.

Altitude in the Leadville area ranges from about 3,018 m (9,900 ft) along the Arkansas River valley to about 4,270 m (14,000 ft) along the Continental Divide east of Leadville, and the high altitude of the area results in a moderate subpolar climate. Winter precipitation as snow was about three times greater than summer precipitation as rain, and in general, both winter and summer precipitation were greatest at higher altitudes. Winter and summer precipitation have increased since 2002 coinciding with the observed water-level rise near the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel that began in 2003. The weather patterns and hydrology exhibit strong seasonality with an annual cycle of cold winters with large snowfall, followed by spring snowmelt, runoff, and recharge (high-flow) conditions, and then base-flow (low-flow) conditions in the fall prior to the next winter. Groundwater occurs in the Paleozoic and Precambrian fractured-rock aquifers and in a Quaternary alluvial aquifer along the East Fork Arkansas River, and groundwater levels also exhibit seasonal, although delayed, patterns in response to the annual hydrologic cycle.

A three-dimensional digital representation of the extensively faulted bedrock was developed and a geophysical direct-current resistivity field survey was performed to evaluate the geologic structure of the study area. The results show that the Canterbury Tunnel is located in a downthrown structural block that is not in direct physical connection with the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel. The presence of this structural discontinuity implies there is no direct groundwater pathway between the tunnels along a laterally continuous bedrock unit.

Water-quality results for pH and major-ion concentrations near the Canterbury Tunnel showed that acid mine drainage has not affected groundwater quality. Stable-isotope ratios of hydrogen and oxygen in water indicate that snowmelt is the primary source of groundwater recharge. On the basis of chlorofluorocarbon and tritium concentrations and mixing ratios for groundwater samples, young groundwater (groundwater recharged after 1953) was indicated at well locations upgradient from and in a fault block separate from the Canterbury Tunnel. Samples from sites downgradient from the Canterbury Tunnel were mixtures of young and old (pre-1953) groundwater and likely represent snowmelt recharge mixed with older regional groundwater that discharges from the bedrock units to the Arkansas River valley. Discharge from the Canterbury Tunnel contained the greatest percentage of old (pre-1953) groundwater with a mixture of about 25 percent young water and about 75 percent old water.

A calibrated three-dimensional groundwater model representing high-flow conditions was used to evaluate large-scale flow characteristics of the groundwater and to assess whether a substantial hydraulic connection was present between the Canterbury Tunnel and Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel. As simulated, the faults restrict local flow in many areas, but the fracture-damage zones adjacent to the faults allow groundwater to move along faults. Water-budget results indicate that groundwater flow across the lateral edges of the model controlled the majority of flow in and out of the aquifer (79 percent and 63 percent of the total water budget, respectively). The largest contributions to the water budget were groundwater entering from the upper reaches of the watershed and the hydrologic interaction of the groundwater with the East Fork Arkansas River. Potentiometric surface maps of the simulated model results were generated for depths of 50, 100, and 250 m. The surfaces revealed a positive trend in hydraulic head with land-surface altitude and evidence of increased control on fluid movement by the fault network structure at progressively greater depths in the aquifer.

Results of advective particle-tracking simulations indicate that the sets of simulated flow paths for the Canterbury Tunnel and the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel were mutually exclusive of one another, which also suggested that no major hydraulic connection was present between the tunnels. Particle-tracking simulations also revealed that although the fault network generally restricted groundwater movement locally, hydrologic conditions were such that groundwater did cross the fault network at many locations. This cross-fault movement indicates that the fault network controls regional groundwater flow to some degree but is not a complete barrier to flow. The cumulative distributions of adjusted age results for the watershed indicate that approximately 30 percent of the flow pathways transmit groundwater that was younger than 68 years old (post-1941) and that about 70 percent of the flow pathways transmit old groundwater. The particle-tracking results are consistent with the apparent ages and mixing ratios developed from the chlorofluorocarbon and tritium results. The model simulations also indicate that approximately 50 percent of the groundwater flowing through the study area was less than 200 years old and about 50 percent of the groundwater flowing through the study area is old water stored in low-permeability geologic units and fault blocks. As a final examination of model response, the conductance parameters of the Canterbury Tunnel and Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel were manually adjusted from the calibrated values to determine if altering the flow discharge in one tunnel affects the hydraulic behavior in the other tunnel. The examination showed no substantial hydraulic connection.

The multidisciplinary investigation yielded an improved understanding of groundwater characteristics near the Canterbury Tunnel and the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel. Movement of groundwater between the Canterbury Tunnel and Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel that was central to this investigation could not be evaluated with strong certainty owing to the structural complexity of the region, study simplifications, and the absence of observation data within the upper sections of the Canterbury Tunnel and between the Canterbury Tunnel and the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel. There was, however, collaborative agreement between all of the analyses performed during this investigation that a substantial hydraulic connection did not exist between the Canterbury Tunnel and the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel under natural flow conditions near the time of this investigation.

Here’s the link to the full report.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

Castle Rock: The town council awards contract for new water treatment plant


Here’s the release from the Town of Castle Rock:

Town Council recently awarded a construction contract to Moltz Construction, Inc., Salida, Colo., who will begin construction of the Plum Creek Water Purification Facility next month.

Castle Rock Water owns water rights that date back to the 1860s. Part of the Town’s long-term water strategy is to start tapping into more of those rights to enhance the current water supply.

Plum Creek Water Purification Facility will enable the Town to collect and treat that water, which will provide a renewable and sustainable supply for the Town. Renewable water sources include water rights on East and West Plum Creek; reclaimable water discharged to East Plum Creek; lawn irrigation return flows; and future imported surface water.

When this facility begins operation in 2013, the Town will essentially transition from a mostly nonrenewable water supply to 35 to 40 percent renewable water.

The water purification facility will have an initial treatment capacity of four million gallons per day and will be expandable to 12 million gallons per day in the future. The average Castle Rock household uses an average of 400 gallons per day, which means this facility will produce enough water to supply 10,000 homes per day.

The project is being funded through existing certificates of participation. The Water Department budgeted $22.6 million for the entire project, including wells and pipelines.

This facility comprises just one component of the Town’s Legacy Water Projects – the goal of which is to transition the Town to 75 percent renewable water by the time it is built out. All of the Town’s water currently comes from nonrenewable wells.

There are two other major components to Legacy Waters:

•The purchase of water storage space in Rueter-Hess Reservoir, which will open next year near Parker
•A partnership with a long-term water provider to purchase future water resources

Construction of the Plum Creek Water Purification Facility is planned to be complete by March 2013. For more information, go to

Aspen geothermal test is on now that a drilling contractor is on board


From The Aspen Daily News (Andrew Travers):

The temporary drilling will be on the gravel parking lot for the city-owned Prockter Open Space, beside the Roaring Fork River and across Neale Avenue from Heron Park.

The city finalized an agreement with a driller for the site this week…

The final contract also allows for a drill-site footprint of about 3,500 square feet, up from the original bid’s estimate of about 400 square feet of surface infrastructure. The well itself is expected to be just 6 to 8 inches wide. The drill hole will be up to 1,000 feet deep…

Work is scheduled to take place between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. In all, the project will take 19 to 31 days, including testing, with actual drilling taking place on eight to 10 of those days…

Based on a 2008 geothermal feasibility study, the temperature of local underground water ranges from 90 to 140 degrees. To heat or cool buildings with geothermal energy, 100-degree water is required. To generate electricity, the city would need water of at least 220 degrees.

More geothermal coverage here and here.

Durango: Voters are being asked to approve $4 million in debt to purchase water from the Animas-La Plata project


From The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh):

As it stands, the city can store 60 million gallons of water (180 acre-feet) – a seven-day supply. In peak season, daily use is 9.5 million gallons, counting irrigation. The purchase of 3,800 acre-feet from the A-LP, as it’s known, would make 1,900 acre-feet available for consumption. Only half of any A-LP water may be used annually. The other half must remain in Lake Nighthorse, the reservoir southwest of Durango…

The cost of 3,800 acre-feet is about $6.2 million. The city has paid $1 million and has $1.2 million available from a surplus in its water fund. The $4 million balance would be borrowed. Durango paid the $1 million in 2005 in anticipation of buying A-LP water, city Director of Public Works Jack Rogers said Friday. It was cheaper to install the needed plumbing at the A-LP pumping plant while it was being built than retrofitting, he said. If the city can borrow from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority, the rate would be 1.95 percent for 20 years, a total cost of almost $5 million. Debt service would be funded from water rates and plant investment fees (charged to new development).

Homeowners pay from $2.12 to $2.78 per 1,000 gallons depending on consumption. No increase in water rates is planned for 2012.

More Animas-La Plata Project coverage here and here.

Pueblo: Action 22’s ‘Southern Colorado Summit’ October 26


Here’s the agenda for the event from the Action 22 website:

Action 22 is holding its Southern Colorado Water Summit on Wednesday, October 26, at CSU-Pueblo Occhiato Student Center Ballroom, 2200 N. Bonforte Blvd., Pueblo. Great information on the gap between water supply and demand will be provided along with what the future will look like considering compact calls and potential water projects.

More coverage from The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Action 22 summit will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Colorado State University-Pueblo Student Center. Action 22 is a volunteer organization representing cities, counties, businesses and organizations in Southern Colorado.

The keynote luncheon speaker will be Chris Woodka, a Pueblo Chieftain editor and reporter who specializes in water issues. He will talk about his adventures in reporting on Fountain Creek issues.

More education coverage here.