Science Daily asks the question: ‘What Are the Prospects for Sustaining High-Quality Groundwater?’

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From Science Daily:

Intensive agriculture practices developed during the past century have helped improve food security for many people but have also added to nitrate pollution in surface and groundwaters.

More groundwater coverage here and here.

2012 Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention: ‘The Year of Water Celebration, Our Stories, Our Work, Our Vision,’ January 25 to 27

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From email from the Colorado Water Congress (Doug Kemper):

The 54th Colorado Water Congress Annual Convention will be a celebration of the anniversaries of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), Colorado River Water Conservation District, Northern Water, President Kennedy signing the Fryingpan-Arkansas legislation, the creation of the Parker Water and Sanitation District, and the construction of Rio Grande Reservoir.

Governor Hickenlooper will be declaring 2012 “The Year of Water”. Our Annual Convention will be the kick-off of a series of educational and public involvement events that will occur throughout next year in a program sponsored by many of our members called Water2012. Additional information on these activities may be found at http://www.water2012.org/

In a break with recent tradition, there will be no concurrent sessions during the main convention. Technical presentations will be at a minimum as we focus on learning about our common history, celebrating the work that we do, and preparing for the future. Several noted historians and authors will be making presentations throughout the convention.

We will have our usual breakfasts on Thursday and Friday mornings. On Thursday, our Legislative Breakfast, hosted by the Water Congress State Affairs Committee, will feature legislators discussing the 2012 legislative session – predicted by many insiders to be very contentious. On Friday, our Federal Affairs Committee will host a presentation by the Assistant Secretary of Water and Science, Anne Castle.

We encourage everyone to plan to attend the workshops on Wednesday. On this day only, we will have an interactive educational experience that is unlike anything you may have experienced before – The Geodome. To get a concept of what this experience is all about, click on the following link: http://geodome.info/. Our new Professionals Outreach, Networking, and Development (POND) Committee will be hosting a special networking event in the late afternoon that we hope you will make a point of attending.

Commerce City: The city council is going to consider a six month moratorium on hydraulic fracturing tonight

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From The Denver Post (Monte Whaley):

If the council approves the moratorium, the city would join Colorado Springs and El Paso County in moving to temporarily limit the use of the controversial oil-field technique.

The hiatus would allow the city to review its land-use standards and policies as they relate to oil and gas exploration, city spokeswoman Michelle Halstead said. “This is for our education,” Halstead said. “We just want to see where we are in this process.”[…]

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association has issued an alert to members asking representatives to attend tonight’s meeting to protest the moratorium. “Please let your City Council members know that it is time to learn more about the state regulatory structure and continue to allow responsible oil and gas exploration in Commerce City,” the alert said.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

The Winter 2011 issue of the Colorado WaterWise newsletter is hot off the press

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Click here to download your copy.

More conservation coverage here.

2012 Colorado November elections: Two ballot issues will be aimed at instituting a ‘public trust doctrine’ for the ownership of water

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Charles Ashby):

Phillip Doe of Littleton and Richard Hamilton of Fairplay have proposed two ballot measures for next year’s election that are designed to institute a “public trust doctrine” on the ownership of water in the state. That means if any Coloradan believes water isn’t being used properly anywhere in the state, that person would have legal standing to sue water users, including cities, water-conservation districts, or the state…

Douglas Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress, said the idea would turn water law on its head. He said it would force the Legislature to redo 150 years worth of Colorado water law, and the courts to rehear more than 150,000 water-rights decrees. “The Constitution says water is the property of the people, subject to appropriation,” Kemper said. “The general concept of the public trust doctrine says … you may have this legal piece of paper that has a decree, but those decrees should be always considered to have been subject to a great public need. That means each would be subject to modification.” As a result, anyone’s water decree could be re-examined at any time, meaning some users could lose their water rights, he said.

More water law coverage here.

Wyco Water and Power’s proposal to supply water for hydraulic fracturing is an insult to injury proposal for conservationists

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Aaron Million has a history of trying to be all things to all people. At various times he’s said the Flaming Gorge pipeline will save agriculture in northeast Colorado, be environmentally friendly by using existing utility corridors, use natural gas for pumping instead of coal-generated power, etc. Last week he suggested that the project could supply the needed water for hydraulic fracturing. At least the oil companies could afford to pay the water haulers just about any price that he needs to charge to make a profit on his speculative venture. However, water providers in Weld County might object. The City of Greeley will sell about $1.4 million worth of water to oil companies this year, helping to keep rates down, according to their water manager, Jon Monson.

Last week ten conservation organizations filed the paperwork to intervene in the permit process now that the project has morphed into a hydroelectric generation project. Here’s a report from Deb Courson Smith writing for the Public News Service – Wyoming. From the article:

Duane Short, wild species program director with the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Laramie, is a spokesman for the coalition that has filed to intervene. “Probably the most local concern is the impact that this pipeline, which would consume some 81-billion gallons of water a year, would have on the Green River area water-sport and recreation industries.”

The list of objections is long, Short says. It includes violations of the Endangered Species Act, landscape destruction to build the pipeline, and downstream effects of removing so much water from the Green River, which connects to the Colorado River in Utah.

The company proposing the pipeline, Wyco Power and Water Inc., has touted its job-creation benefits and the fact that it includes hydropower construction plans. Short claims the hydropower was only added so FERC would look at the permit. He says the project will use much more power than it generates, because the water has to be pumped uphill across Wyoming and over the Continental Divide. The developer also recently announced that some of the water would be used for hydraulic fracturing (fracking). “With that type of history, and with all these other concerns that have been expressed in Wyoming, Colorado and even in Utah, to make this water available for fracking is sort of an ‘insult to injury’ type of proposal.”

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

The Fairplay Water and Sanitation board bumps rates

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From The Fairplay Flume (V. Christian Kingsford):

The sanitation district’s attorney, Robert Tibbals, explained the legal and financial requirements and obligations of setting a rate hike for the district to $76.67 a month per EQR (equivalent residential unit) from the old rate of $62.48 per month…

[Dale Fitting, board secretary and treasurer] added: “A lot of our expenditures are the bond and the loan [for the new wastewater treatment plant]; we can’t get out from under that. As with many loans, we were paying interest only on the loan at first; now we’re paying interest and principle. The growth spurt that was anticipated when the system was installed didn’t happen, so now the established residences are carrying the load.”[…]

“Budgets are hard to figure, and we’ve reduced some expenditures and would like to reduce others such as the attorney’s fees, but we can’t. The preventive maintenance of cleaning and jetting the lines along with sludge removal is a big expense, but it’s needed,” he added. “Then there’s payroll taxes, social security and medicare for our employee.”

More wastewater coverage here.