Public Scoping Continues on Paradox Valley Salinity Control Projects, meetings September 25, 26 and 27


Here’s the release from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Terry Stroh/Justyn Hock):

Reclamation announced today that it will hold three public scoping meetings to solicit public input on a planning report and environmental impact statement concerning the Paradox Valley Salinity Control Unit, located near Bedrock, Colo. The meetings will be held:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. – Paradox, Colo., Paradox Valley School, 21501 6 Mile Road

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. – Montrose, Colo., Holiday Inn Express, 1391 S Townsend Ave.

Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. – Grand Junction, Colo., Colorado Mesa University, Student Center, 1100 North Ave., Room 221

Historically, the Dolores River picked up an estimated 205,000 tons of salt annually as it passed through the Paradox Valley. Since the mid-1990’s much of this salt has been collected by the Paradox Valley Salinity Control Unit in shallow wells along the Dolores River and then injected into deep subsurface geologic formations. The deep well injection program has removed about 110,000 tons of salt annually from the Dolores and Colorado rivers.

The current deep injection well is projected to reach the end of its useful life in three to five years under current operations. Reclamation is seeking public input to identify and evaluate brine disposal alternatives to replace or supplement the existing brine injection well. Initial alternatives include developing a new injection well and using evaporation ponds.

The project will be described and questions will be answered at the meetings; comments may be provided at the scoping meeting, emailed to or mailed to Bureau of Reclamation, 2764 Compass Drive, Suite 106, Grand Junction CO 81506 by November 26, 2012.

More coverage from Gus Jarvis writing for The Telluride Watch. From the article:

The deep brine injection well is projected to reach the end of its useful life in three to five years under current operation, and the Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public comments to identify and evaluate brine disposal alternatives to replace or supplement the existing well. Initial alternatives include developing a new injection well or using evaporation ponds.

Installed in the mid-1990s, the Paradox Valley Salinity Control Unit has removed an estimated 110,000 tons of salt annually from the Dolores River as its waters passed through the Paradox Valley. Much of the salt is collected in shallow wells along the river and then injected deep into subsurface geologic formations.

“From our perspective, this has worked really well,” Bureau of Reclamation public relations specialist Justyn Hock said in an interview last week. “It makes a big impact in reducing the salt content in the river and improves the water quality downstream.”

Since the unit is nearing the end of its lifespan, Hock says the agency is beginning to contemplate its options on how to move forward with a similar injection unit or something completely different altogether.

“This is a unique project and we have been doing this for a while and its worked great,” she said. “Before we decide to do a new project, we are going to make sure this is still the best way to do it or find out if there is a better way. Two of the options we have right now are installing a new well or building evaporation ponds. We are open to other options if people have ideas.”

More Dolores River Watershed coverage here and here.

Longmont’s water supply system turns 130


Here’s a look at the history of Longmont’s water supply from Scott Rochat writing for the Longmont Times-Call. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

Longmont’s prime water source near Lyons filled up and spilled over Button Rock Dam on Monday. That’s an unusual sight this year — the city’s other lakes are between half and two-thirds full, with more demand for water ahead — and a welcome reassurance for the winter months.

It was also a handy way to celebrate Longmont’s water system turning 130, a system that’s grown from a single 6-inch line to a utility that regularly supplies 16 million gallons of water a day to the city’s residents…

When Longmont got its start in 1871, water meant two things: irrigation companies and the St. Vrain Creek. The city’s planners had already done some thinking about the former, buying out an unfinished irrigation ditch and completing it as the Longmont Supply Ditch. The latter, meanwhile, was sufficient in the earliest days of the “colony,” when a light population could easily stay near the creek flow…

A water wagon from Lyons supplemented the local supplies for a while. But when fire ravaged the 300 block of Main Street in 1879, the well and bucket brigades from the creek simply couldn’t keep up. By April 1882, a $70,000 bond had been voted in for the first water line, a 6-inch pipeline from just south of Lyons to the current site of Price Park. That would be enough for about 25 years, until further growth and the start of what became the Great Western sugar refinery made it necessary to run a 12-inch line into town…

During the 2012 drought, possibly the worst since its 2002 predecessor, Longmont adopted no water restrictions. In April, the city projected its present water supply would be sufficient not just through the summer, but through 2014.

More South Platte River basin coverage here and here.

NOAA: State of the Climate report released


Here’s the link to the report from the Nation Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Here’s the report summary:

The globally-averaged temperature for August 2012 marked the fourth warmest August since record keeping began in 1880. August 2012 also marks the 36th consecutive August and 330th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average.

Most areas of the world experienced much higher-than-average monthly temperatures, including far northeastern North America, central and Southern Europe, and east central Asia. Meanwhile, parts of Siberia were notably cooler than average. In the Arctic, sea ice extent averaged 1.82 million square miles, resulting in the all-time lowest August sea ice extent on record. On August 26th, the Arctic dipped below the record smallest daily extent, previously set on September 18th, 2007.

The equatorial Pacific Ocean continued to reflect neutral El Niño-Southern Ocean (ENSO) conditions in August. However, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, the El Niño warm ocean phase will likely develop during September. In addition to influencing seasonal climate outcomes in the United States, El Niño is often, but not always, associated with global temperatures that are above the average trend.

Global temperature highlights: August

– The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for August was the fourth highest on record for August, at 61.22°F (16.22°C) or 1.12°F (0.62°C) above the 20th century average. The margin of error associated with this temperature is ±0.16°F (0.09°C).

– August marked the 36th consecutive August and 330th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average temperature August was August 1976 and the last below-average temperature month was February 1985.

– The global land temperature tied with 2001 and 2011 as the second warmest August on record, behind 1998, at 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the 20th century average of 56.9°F (13.8°C). The margin of error is ±0.32°F (0.18°C).
Higher-than-average monthly temperatures were most notable across far eastern Canada, southern Greenland, central and southern Europe, western Kazakhstan, Japan, Western Australia, and Paraguay, while temperatures were much cooler than average across parts of Siberia.

– The average August daytime (maximum) temperature across Australia was 1.49°C above normal, making this the sixth warmest August since national records began in 1950. Conversely, it was colder than average at night. The average nighttime (minimum) temperature across Australia was 0.83°C below average, making the difference between the average daytime temperature and the average nighttime temperature the greatest on record for August and third highest for any month on record.

– The average monthly temperature in New Zealand during August was 1.2°C above average.

– Austria reported its fourth warmest August since national records began in 1767, with a temperature that was 1.9°C above the long-term average, leading to the third earliest complete snowmelt on August 19th at the high-elevation mountain station in Sonnblick.

– Spain reported two heat waves in August that led to its second warmest August since its records began in 1961, behind only August 2003, at 2.0°C above average.

– For the ocean, the August global sea surface temperature was 0.94°F (0.52°C) above the 20th century average of 61.4°F (16.4°C), or fifth warmest August on record. This was also the highest monthly global ocean temperature departure from average for any month since July 2010. The margin of error is ±0.07°F (0.04°C).

– Neutral conditions continued during August across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, with sea surface temperatures trending toward 0.9°F (0.5°C) above average for a three-month period, the official threshold for the onset of El Niño conditions. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, El Niño conditions will likely emerge during September.

Polar ice highlights: August

– August 2012’s Arctic sea ice extent averaged 1.82 million square miles, which was 38.5 percent below the 1979 to 2000 average. During the month, the Arctic lost an average of 35,400 square miles of ice per day, the fastest rate ever observed for the month of August, resulting in the all-time smallest August Arctic sea ice extent on record.

– According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Arctic sea ice shrank to 1.58 million square miles on August 26th, dipping below the smallest extent on record, which occurred on September 18th, 2007 at 1.61 million square miles. By the end of the month, sea ice extent dropped to 1.42 million square miles, with the melt season expected to last until mid-September. All of the six lowest sea ice extents have occurred in the past six years.

– On the opposite pole, Antarctic sea ice during August 2012 was 1.6 percent above average and ranked as fourth largest August extent in the 34-year period of record.

Precipitation highlights: August

– In the North Atlantic, Hurricane Isaac brought locally heavy rain to Hispaniola, Cuba, and parts of the southeastern United States, with some areas receiving up to 20 inches (500 mm) of rain.

– In the western Pacific, a record three typhoons—Haikui, Saola, and Damrey—made landfall along China’s coast within a one-week period during late July and early August.

– August was dry across most of Australia, with the country as a whole reporting its fifth driest August since national precipitation records began in 1900, with monthly rainfall just 44 percent of average. The last month with a national average deficit this great was March 2009.

– The high-pressure systems that led to heat waves in Spain also contributed to a dry August. Spain reported its third driest August since national records began in 1961, with average precipitation just above one third of normal.

Global temperature highlights: June–August

– The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for June–August tied with 2005 as the third highest on record for this period at 61.25°F (16.24°C), or 1.15°F (0.64°C), above the 20th century average of 60.1°F (15.6°C). The margin of error associated with this temperature is ±0.16°F (0.09°C).

– The global land temperature was the all-time warmest June–August on record, at 1.85°F (1.03°C) above the 20th century average of 56.9°F (13.8°C). The margin of error is ±0.27°F (0.15°C).

– For the ocean, the June–August global sea surface temperature was 0.90°F (0.50°C), above the 20th century average of 61.5°F (16.4°C), tying with 1997, 2001, and 2002 as the seventh warmest for June–August on record. The margin of error is ±0.07°F (0.04°C).

Global temperature highlights: Year to Date

– Record to near-record warmth over land from April to August and increasing global ocean temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean resulted in the first eight months of 2012 tying with 2006 as the ninth warmest such period on record, with a combined global land and ocean average surface temperature of 1.01°F (0.56°C) above the 20th century average of 57.3°F (14.0°C). The margin of error is ±0.18°F (0.10°C).

The January–August worldwide land surface temperature was 1.71°F (0.95°C) above the 20th century average, marking the sixth warmest such period on record. The margin of error is ±0.38°F (0.21°C).
The global ocean surface temperature for the year to date was 0.76°F (0.42°C) above average and ranked as the 11th warmest such period on record. This was the warmest monthly departure from normal since August 2010. The margin of error is ±0.07°F (0.04°C).

Drought news: Northern Colorado used much of their stored water this summer, snow dances are in order


From Windsor Now! (Eric Brown):

Because 2012 brought record-low amounts of precipitation, farmers and residents depended heavily on stored water from reservoirs this year. And now — seeing how low reservoir water levels are — water providers in the region say at least average snowfall will be needed during the upcoming months.

Another dry winter, like the one Colorado had this year, would spell trouble for the next growing season, they say. “The reservoirs this year certainly served their basic purpose: They filled up during wet years, and then helped us get through a dry year,” said Jon Monson, director of the Greeley Water and Sewer Board. “But if we don’t get some good snows this winter to refill those reservoirs, we could be in a tight spot next year…

Heading into this month, the estimated amount of water in the Greeley-Loveland System — which consists of three reservoirs and is one of Greeley’s primary water sources, supplying anywhere from 30-50 percent of the city’s demand — was less than half of what it was just a year earlier, having dropped from about 57,000 total acre feet down to about 25,000 acre feet. It was the system’s biggest one-year decrease during at least the past 25 years…

The city of Greeley gets about 25 percent of its water from direct flows in the Poudre River, but that supply had to be shut down earlier this summer, because ash and debris from wildfires were dumping into the river. Not being able to use those direct flows forced the city to even more so deplete its reservoirs this summer…

Like Monson, Andy Pineda, the water resources department manager at the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District in Berthoud, which oversees operations and deliveries of the C-BT Project, said the region doesn’t need record snowfall like that of 2011 to meet the needs of next year’s growing season. Just an average snow year would do the trick.

‘Water in Colorado and the Grand Valley’ and ‘Pass the jug’ presentations at Mesa County libraries starting October 2


From KKCO:

If this past summer has taught us anything, it’s the importance of water. Join Hannah Holm, Water Center coordinator at Colorado Mesa University, for “Water in Colorado and the Grand Valley,” an overview of where our water supplies come from, how we use water, and constraints on our water use. The presentation at three Mesa County Libraries locations also will discuss current water supply challenges and planning efforts to address them.

Holm’s presentation is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday Oct.2, at the Central Library; 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the Fruita Branch; and 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct.4, at the Palisade Branch. It is open to the public at no charge.

Holm is also scheduled to lead children in a “Pass the Jug” activity dramatizing the concept of water as a limited resource that must be shared among a variety of users. The children’s activity is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 16, and 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct.17, at the Central Library.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

Cañon City: Hearing for de-commissioning of Cotter Mill is Thursday


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

State and federal health officials will host a public meeting this week to work toward putting together a community advisory group to help guide the Cotter Corporation Uranium Mill’s decommissioning process. The meeting, at 6 p.m. Thursday at Canon City’s City Hall, 128 Main St., will be hosted by Environmental Protection Agency and Colorado Department of Public Health officials…

The decommissioning process is expected to take 10 to 15 years and will be guided by both the state health department and the EPA.

More Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill superfund site coverage here and here.