The Rural Community Assistance Corporation is launching the Household Water Well System Loan Program


Here’s the release from the RCAC:

RCAC provides low interest loans to lower income rural residents in Colorado and Utah to construct, refurbish or replace their household water well system. Applicants must own and occupy the home being improved or be purchasing the home. New home construction and community water systems are not eligible.

Please send the complete loan application package with original signature to:

Josh Griff
Rural Community Assistance Corporation
501 S. Cherry St., Ste. 400
Denver, CO 80246

If you have any questions as you work through the process, please do not hesitate to contact Josh at 720/898-9463.

Click through to the website for the link for loan applications.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Sportsmen and conservationists boost the U.S. economy by $1 trillion each year


That’s according to a study commissioned by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Here’s a look at the report from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. Here’s an excerpt:

A new study finds that growing the U.S. economy is as easy as fishing your favorite stream or heading out for a hunt. According to the economic study, the great outdoors and historic preservation generate a conservative estimate of more than $1 trillion in total economic activity and support 9.4 million jobs each year.

“Sportsmen put billions of dollars of their own money annually into conservation through the licenses they buy and the excise taxes that they pay on hunting and fishing equipment,” said Lindsay Thomas, a former U.S. Congressman and current chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “This combined with the other taxes that are paid through activities associated with outdoor recreation and historic preservation total over $100 billion annually contributed to state and federal coffers.”

Conducted by Southwick Associates, the study is packed with highlights including:

– In 2006, the total contribution from outdoor sports in the U.S. was nearly $730 billion per year, generating more than 6.4 million U.S. jobs and $99 billion in federal and state tax revenues.

– In 2006, the combined spending effect of hunting, fishing and wildlife watching associated with National Forest Service land totaled $9.5 billion in annual retail sales, supported 189,400 jobs and provided $1.01 billion in annual federal tax revenues.

More conservation coverage here.

Opposition to the Flaming Gorge pipeline project grows in Utah, Wyoming and Northwestern Colorado


From the Vernal Express (Mary Bernard):

…widespread resistance to the project continues from the tri-state area. That resistance prompted Uintah County officials to formalize their opposition in a resolution last year. Elsewhere, Daggett County, the Wyoming communities of Green River and Rock Springs, Sweetwater County, Wyo. and Moffatt County, Colo. joined Utah in formal opposition…

Wyoming’s Gov. Matt Mead opposes the project. “I generally oppose trans-basin diversion projects and in particular I believe Aaron Million’s project is not well thought out,” Mead wrote.

Criticism spans concern over the reduction in scant water resources as well as impact to existing habitats. The proposed project has little popularity west of the Rockies where variable snowfall and runoff make assured flows into the Flaming Gorge Reservoir somewhat unpredictable.

Stacy Tellinghuisen, Western Resource Advocates, energy and water analyst, calls Million’s latest effort blatantly misleading. “He’s now trying to re-classify his project as a power supply project,” Tellinghuisen said. “It’s a water supply project — not a power supply project because it’s going to consume more energy than it will produce.”[…]

Million proposes to pump water from western Wyoming’s natural gas region through a system of turbines and reservoirs along to generate electricity along the pipeline. “We’re planning on using natural gas turbines to maximize the hydro-power and minimize energy use, perhaps tying some wind,” Million said…

Colorado estimated the price of water under a voluntary agreement between cities and farmers for the temporary leasing of ag-water ranged from $300 to $500 per acre-foot per year. Tellinghuisen said a private consultant to the Western Resource Advocates gauged Million’s water as costing as much as $4,000 and acre-foot per year. “Realistically, I just don’t see this project relieving pressure on any of the basins in Colorado,” she said.

More Flaming Gorge Pipeline coverage here and here.

The long-range forecast for the San Juans is for slightly below average precipitation — blame La Niña


From The Telluride Daily Planet (Benjamin Preston):

According to the National Weather Service, La Niña, a condition where colder-than-average sea surface temperatures off the coast of Peru push the jet stream further north, usually dumps precipitation farther north. First hitting the Pacific Northwest, these systems tend to travel through the Northern Rockies before expiring over the Ohio River Valley.

“Colorado is the transition zone where the northern mountains get more snow than the southern mountains,” said Dennis Phillips, a meteorologist at the NWS station in Grand Junction. Droughts and fires across the Front Range and Southern Plains suggest that conditions this season will most likely resemble last year’s, although cold air masses in the Arctic could cause conditions in Colorado to change quickly. But although Arctic weather conditions can impact weather in the Rockies more rapidly than South American sea surface temperatures, forecasters are unable to predict its impact further than two weeks in advance…

Joe Ramey, another of NWS Grand Junction’s team of meteorologists, said that precipitation during the weeks leading up to the April ski area closure approached average levels. He compared this year to the 2000-2001 winter season, which produced La Niña weather patterns after a La Niña had occurred the year before.

“The 2000-2001 season gives us the best idea of what will happen this year,” he said, adding that he expected below average precipitation in the Southern San Juan Mountains. From Telluride north, he expects near average snowfall, especially toward the end of the season.

The Rifle City Council is starting to plan for a new water treatment plant


From The Rifle Citizen Telegram (Jenny Lavey):

City of Rifle Director of Utilities Richard Deussen said although the project is years out, it’s clear the current water treatment plant needs to be replaced. “It’s getting to the point where it’s difficult to find parts when it needs to be fixed,” Deussen said.

Rifle City Council is currently holding budget workshops and reviewing how the city could fund a new plant. Development and construction of a brand new water plant could cost up to $30 million and would have to be funded through either an increase in city water rates or a sales tax increase, according to Deussen.

The new plant would be of high quality, utilizing the reverse osmosis process and granular activated carbon (GAC), a specialized filter medium that removes tastes and orders from city water. Deussen said the current water plant uses sand filters, which may contribute to the taste and odor of Rifle’s water — a common complaint among Rifle residents…

Rifle City Manager John Hier said finance matters and an application to the Colorado Water and Power Authority have to be completed before further details can be planned for building a new plant. “Design plans are scheduled to completed in February, and even then we’re a few years out from construction,” Hier said.

More water treatment coverage here.

Fountain Creek: Lower Arkansas River irrigators are speaking out about the effect of potential flood control projects on junior water rights


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“It’s the same question I kept asking on the Vision Task Force,” said Dan Henrichs, superintendent of the High Line Canal and secretary of the Arkansas Valley Ditch Association. “Whose water is it [ed. flood water/storm water], and how do you get it to them?”

While the September rainfall was heavy in Colorado Springs, it was light or nonexistent in the farmlands along the Arkansas River. In addition, the native flows from the Arkansas River were held back during the high-water event on Fountain Creek to avoid worsening flood conditions. Flows at Avondale were only briefly above the flood limit of 6,000 cfs. The return flows from the banks and side channels along Fountain Creek lasted for two weeks…

While Pueblo’s side detention pond may have had a negligible impact on the September stormwater, a whole series of them could have a much bigger impact. Water rights must be incorporated into the current U.S. Geological Survey study of the impact a dam or series of dams would have on Fountain Creek, Henrichs added. There are indications many others agree. The technical advisory committee of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District wants to better understand how water rights would be affected by projects the district is coordinating, according to comments at last week’s meeting by Executive Director Larry Small…

Henrichs said he would prefer a more detailed analysis of the historic timing of Fountain Creek flows and development of a way to release flows to the appropriate users — like the winter water program that allows irrigators to store during winter months when irrigation is impractical or unnecessary.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill superfund site: There is little evidence that containment ponds are leaking according to CPDHE


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

About 50 people attended an update meeting Wednesday night hosted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency. A major topic of concern to those in attendance was whether the ponds leak. “I don’t see any significant evidence of a release,” said Edgar Ethington, environmental protection specialist for the state health department.

Using magnesium as the “best geochemical indicator of impoundment water” presence, Ethington said he tested at several sites all along the impoundment edges at depths up to 70 to 80 feet. Magnesium levels in the impoundment water are 60,000 to 100,000 parts per million and all but one of the edge test sites produced magnesium levels of 200 parts per million. “If the impoundment was leaking that would be sky high and it isn’t. There is minor evidence of a leak at one well that is twice what the others are (400 parts per million),” Ethington explained.

“Is it strong evidence — no — but I always make the conservative assumption. So in the license renewal phase I will ask Cotter (officials) to look at how much water is moving through there and where it is going,” Ethington said.

During his presentation, Steve Tarlton, state health department radiation control program manager, said both surface water and groundwater is prevented from moving off the mill site by an earthen dam and a pumpback system located between the mill site and the Lincoln Park neighborhood. “Surface water and groundwater are pumped back before it leaves the site,” Tarlton said…

Cotter has no immediate plans to reopen, [Cotter Mill Manager John Hamrick] said, but Cotter officials continue to study whether building a new mill would be economically feasible. Hamrick said Colorado Health Department Executive Director Chris Urbina toured the mill site Wednesday and Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Chief of Staff Roxane White will visit the site Nov. 11 to gauge remediation progress.

More coverage from Rachel Alexander writing for the Cañon City Daily Record. From the article:

Edgar Ethington, an environmental protection specialist with CDPHE, described the investigation into a possible leak in the primary impoundment. “We’re not seeing any indication of significant release,” Ethington said…

Steve Tarlton, radiation control program manager at CDPHE, said Cotter’s license is set to expire on Jan. 31, 2012. They are required to submit a renewal application by Dec. 31. Once the department receives the application, they have 45 days to determine if the application is complete. Within 45 days after that, a public meeting must be conducted, with a second one organized within 30 days of the first meeting. The county commissioners have 90 days after the first public meeting to submit comments on the environmental report. The department will have 360 days after the second public meeting to issue their decision.

More nuclear coverage here and here.