Southeast Metro Stormwater Authority celebrates fifth anniversary


Here’s the release from the SEMSWA via the Englewood Herald. From the release:

The Southeast Metro Stormwater Authority has celebrated its fifth anniversary of operations in the southeast Metro Denver area. SEMSWA, formed by a five-party intergovernmental agreement signed in September 2006, is responsible for stormwater management in the City of Centennial and the urbanized unincorporated portion of Arapahoe County. The authority was formed to provide a funding mechanism for the planning, construction and maintenance of drainage and flood control facilities, and to comply with federal environmental regulation to protect and enhance water quality in neighborhood greenways, flowing creeks and Cherry Creek Reservoir.

More stormwater coverage here.

The Rio Grande Water Conservancy District ponies up $5,000 for the study of the effects of ‘Dust on snow’ events


Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for a satellite (MODIS) view of the April 29, 2009 dust storm over the Four Corners. Here’s a report from Ruth Heide writing for the Valley Courier. From the article:

[Chris Landry with the Center for Snow & Avalanche Studies] recorded 11-12 events last year, the last of which was perhaps the largest of the year. He said last winter was also extremely windy, with more than 100,000 miles of wind passing by the center’s sensor over the course of the winter. Landry explained to the water board that one source area responsible for Colorado’s dusty snow is a vast dry lake bed lacking vegetation on a reservation in Arizona.

He added that the Rio Grande Basin may be most affected by dust on snow events because this basin has less snow cover than other basins in the state. The water district board voted to support Landry’s studies with $5,000.

Colorado Division of Water Resources Division Engineer for Division III Craig Cotten said this is a new tool in helping determine runoff forecasts, and although it is not part of the formula used to develop the annual forecasts it is a beneficial tool.

More Rio Grande River basin coverage here.

Leadville: New wastewater treatment plant for Mountain View Villages is up and running


From The Leadville Herald (Ann E. Wibbenmeyer):

After setting up a special sanitation district that encompasses the east and west villages, [Gordon Heaton] was able to fund a new sanitation system that treats sewage from both sides of the highway. When the Colorado Department of Transportation repaved the highway, he was able to put conduits under the road in preparation for the new system. This was in 2007 or 2008. The new system was complete and began operation in April 2010.

The system, a sequencing batch reactor, uses bacteria to eat ammonia and then to eat raw organics, according to Steve Hansen, engineer with Ambiente H2O Inc., which installed the system…

The system now installed in the mobile-home park has two stages covered with concrete, said Hansen. This helps with both the smell and climate control. The bugs will stay warm and happy to keep eating, he said. The third compartment allows for settling. When all is working as it should, clear water settles to the top.

What is then released to Tennessee Creek is cleaner than what is already flowing in the creek, said Hansen.

More wastewater coverage here and here.

The Agricultural Advisory Board to the Larimer County Commissioners reports that the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) will not stimulate increased growth in N. Colorado


From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

A memo by the Larimer County Agricultural Advisory Board states NISP would not necessarily accelerate the selling and subdivision of farms to meet the water needs of growing cities as predicted in a study released earlier this year by Save the Poudre, which opposes the project. “The need for NISP is the result of growth, which has occurred or will occur, rather than NISP being a cause of that growth,” Val Manning, chair of the advisory board told the county commissioners Tuesday…

The board also found construction of Glade Reservoir north of Ted’s Place would not take significant agricultural land out of production because the property already is owned by Northern Water, which has proposed building NISP. There’s no evidence the project would increase salinity levels in Weld County fields and reduce crop productivity as stated in Save the Poudre’s report, “The Farm Facts about NISP,” the board stated…

The board’s analysis questioned Save the Poudre’s contention that the amount of “free water” available for diversion during years of high flow would be eliminated by NISP because water rights for the project are junior to other claims on the river’s water. [Board member George Wallace] told the commissioners some downstream farmers have become accustomed to using “free” water for production during years of high flow and they would be affected by reduced availability.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.

The world population is now seven billion (give or take) and water use is rising faster than the population


From Reuters (Deborah Zabarenko):

Water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, said Kirsty Jenkinson of the World Resources Institute, a Washington think tank. Water use is predicted to increase by 50 percent between 2007 and 2025 in developing countries and 18 percent in developed ones, with much of the increased use in the poorest countries with more and more people moving from rural areas to cities, Jenkinson said in a telephone interview. Factor in the expected impacts of climate change this century — more severe floods, droughts and shifts from past precipitation patterns — that are likely to hit the poorest people first and worst “and we have a significant challenge on our hands,” Jenkinson said.

Will there be enough water for everyone, especially if population continues to rise, as predicted, to 9 billion by mid-century? “There’s a lot of water on Earth, so we probably won’t run out,” said Rob Renner, executive director of the Colorado-based Water Research Foundation.

“The problem is that 97.5 percent of it is salty and … of the 2.5 percent that’s fresh, two-thirds of that is frozen. So there’s not a lot of fresh water to deal with in the world.”

Hot spots of water risk, as reported in the World Resources Institute‘s Aqueduct online atlas here , include:

— Australia’s Murray-Darling basin;

— the Colorado River basin in the U.S. Southwest;

— the Orange-Senqu basin, covering parts of South Africa, Botswana and Namibia and all of Lesotho;

— and the Yangtze and Yellow river basins in China.

More coverage from The Washington Post (Juliet Eilperin):

As the global population reaches the 7-billion mark, these sort of ecological distortions are becoming more pronounced and widespread. Sometimes local needs are depleting water, fish and forests; other times food and fuel needs in one region of the world are transforming ecosystems in another. Under either scenario, however, expanding human demands are placing pressure on resources, particularly on world water supply and fisheries.

Robert Engelman, executive director of the Worldwatch Institute, noted that societies have repeated this pattern of depleting one natural resource and then turning to another, whether it’s the whale oil that gave way to fossil fuels or the guano that has been substituted by chemical fertilizer. But the current scale of exploitation has become so vast, Engelman said, that it now exacts even larger consequences.

The Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District is awaiting a stormwater assessment and management study due in December


From the Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

That September deluge provided the latest evidence of the need to control stormwater runoff. The question is how, considering the backlog of projects in the Springs alone amounts to as much as $500 million, and efforts to collect the now-defunct stormwater fee have been a nightmare.

[Larry Small, manager of the district] believes the first step is overseeing a study to identify the region’s drainage costs and funding options. It’s funded by Colorado Springs Utilities ($20,000), El Paso County ($10,000) and the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority ($7,500), a coalition of water users outside the city. “I think we have to get this study put together first,” Small says, “and then get the governments together in the region and say, ‘How do we want to tackle this, and how do we tell people the benefits?'”[…]

Small says the study will quantify costs regionally (including Pueblo County), report timeframes for building projects, and suggest funding mechanisms, such as a stormwater authority that might rely on property taxes over a wide area, possibly two counties…

Lisa Ross, the city’s acting stormwater manager, says the EPA is getting tougher on pollutants and monitoring. She encourages flood-control projects such as detention ponds that allow pollutants to drop out of the water before flowing to creeks…

Stormwater has always been a loser. In 2005, City Council, in part to placate Pueblo, formed the Stormwater Enterprise and followed in 2007 with fees levied on all property owners. Many refused to pay the “rain tax,” and the city has had trouble collecting since. The enterprise was dismantled in 2009. Collection letters, court judgments and “till taps,” wherein deputies seize money from businesses in satisfaction of court orders have only brought ill will.

More stormwater coverage here.