2012 Colorado November election: Aspen voters say no to proposed Castle Creek hydroelectric generation plant


From The Aspen Times (Andre Salvail):

By a mere 110 votes, Aspen voters rejected an advisory question designed to move the city’s controversial Castle Creek hydroelectric power project forward…

Tom and Maureen Hirsch, vocal opponents of the project and residents on the banks of Castle Creek, said they might have supported a city initiative that was more eclectic. A mix of micro hydroelectric projects with other types of renewable energy efforts such as wind and solar power would be more acceptable to the community, they said, but the city instead decided to focus all of its efforts on Castle and Maroon creeks…

Over the last two years, city officials and others supporting the project, including Mayor Mick Ireland, sought to turn the debate into one of environmental stewardship, saying the hydroplant on Castle Creek would eventually eliminate the city electric utility’s reliance on power generated by coal, a nonrenewable resource.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Forecast news: Rain and snow on the way for Colorado, warm with equal chances for above or below average precipitation over the next few months #CODrought



Click on the thumbnail graphics for the three month (Dec/Jan/Feb) precipitation and temperature forecast maps from the Climate Prediction Center.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

Saturday’s forecast calls for rain and snow showers, turning to snow later in the evening. Snow showers could linger through Sunday morning.

From The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh):

There is a chance of rain showers late Thursday. The chances increase Friday, with snow possible Friday night through Saturday as temperatures drop. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you got snow in (Durango), maybe 1 or 2 inches,” meteorologist Tom Renwick said. “It’s still a couple of days away, but snow isn’t out of the question.”

Mrs. Gulch is still harvesting broccoli, kale and lettuce from the vegetable garden.

Colorado State University Obtains $1.4 Million DOE Grant to Improve Water Management during Shale Oil and Gas Production


Here’s the release from Colorado State University (Emily Narvaes Wilmsen):

Ken Carlson, a civil engineering professor at Colorado State University, will work with Noble Energy Inc. on a new $1.4 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to optimize water management associated with Noble’s oil and gas production in the Denver-Julesburg Basin in Weld County.

The two-year project, awarded through DOE’s Research Partnership for Sustainable Energy in America, aims to assess and improve water acquisition, transportation and disposal.

Carlson and his partners will work to develop computer modeling and online training materials in partnership with industry. He expects that the project will also benefit communities by reducing truck traffic, air emissions and use of water resources. The study will develop tools that will assist industry in siting and designing water treatment plants that are an essential part of the drive to recycle oil and gas related wastewater.

“This is driven by efficiency and if the industry’s more efficient with water use, there’s less risk of environmental impact,” he said. “Another benefit of recycling is a reduction of stress on agriculture water and a reduced risk of regional water depletion.”

Carlson notes, “Optimizing management of water during drilling and hydraulic fracturing could mitigate other environmental impacts including ecological degradation due to excessive truck traffic and the associated dust and land disturbance.

“There are 19,000 active wells in Weld County and most produce some water. Do we have 100 water treatment plants? Do we have one? Is it better to use some water for reuse in industry and other for agriculture? The study will develop industry targeted geographic information system (GIS) based tools that can be used to assess the logistics of water use, transportation, reuse and disposal.”

“This is the kind of public-private partnership that we support in Weld County where we have to balance the economic benefits of industry with environmental impacts on our communities,” said Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer. “We look forward to the results of Dr. Carlson’s research.”

“Our corporate purpose is Energizing the World, Bettering People’s Lives,” said Ted Brown, Senior Vice President – Northern Region of Noble Energy. “As we continue to increase activity in the DJ Basin, we seek solutions to maximize efficiencies while minimizing impacts. Our ongoing partnership with CSU is key in achieving this goal, and living up to that corporate purpose.”

“Working together with environmental groups, industry leaders and scientists, Colorado State can act as an objective third-party to understand the complexities of the energy industry and communicate those complicated issues to the general public,” Carlson said. “We hope this collaboration will provide a unique opportunity to protect Colorado’s water resources while also enabling economic growth from the boom in oil and gas development in the region.”

Kirkmeyer is the chair and Carlson is the co-director of the Colorado Energy Water Consortium, a partnership in northern Colorado that includes government, industry, environmental groups, agricultural interests and CSU leaders working together to solve water issues associated with oil and gas drilling development including hydraulic fracturing.

Carlson is an expert on water management associated with oil and gas drilling and pollutants that can affect drinking water supplies. Also collaborating on the DOE study from CSU are Tom Bradley, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering who is an expert in systems management, and Kimberly Catton, a research scientist in civil engineering with extensive GIS experience.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

‘It costs 10 times more to clean out a reservoir than to build a new one’ — Jon Monson


From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Experts from around the region painted an uncertain picture of the area’s water future Wednesday morning at Northern Water’s fall water user’s meeting in Greeley.

As ash and silt continue their relentless descent into the Poudre River during even tiny rainstorms, Fort Collins will have to spend much more money on water filtration and purification in the coming years and potentially treat drinking water with additional chemicals to ensure the muck stays away from your faucet, Fort Collins water production manager Lisa Voytko said. The silt washing into Seaman Reservoir from the Hewlett and High Park wildfire burn areas could be costly to Greeley, said Jon Monson, the city’s water and sewer director…

Voytko said she’s worried about spiking levels of total organic carbon in Poudre River water every time it rains. That’s because the carbon has to be removed with chlorine, a process that creates potentially toxic byproducts in drinking water that have to be removed at great expense. Polymers have to be used to remove the turbidity from the drinking water, and it’s expensive to dispose of the byproducts of that process, she said…

The summer’s wildfires have clogged Fort Collins’ water intake structures on the Poudre River with sediment and debris, reducing their intake capacity. The sediment washing off the burn areas is so extreme that the city had to flush out its intake structures four times in September. Normally, the city flushes them once a year. Then there’s a concern all the silt and muck in the Poudre River and Seaman Reservoir could cause major algae blooms, further degrading the water quality and treatment expense, Voytko said.

More water pollution coverage here.

Rocky Mountain famous Alto Cumulus Standing Lenticular cloud over the Continental Divide of Northern Colorado

Colorado Springs Utilities: SDS pipe installed under Fountain Valley Authority pipe

Denver Water warns about lead in water in older homes with outdated plumbing


Here’s the release from Denver Water (Stacy Chesney/Travis Thompson):

Denver Water wants to remind customers that if you live in an older home, you may have lead in your plumbing, which could affect the water coming out of your tap.

Every year, Denver Water collects more than 10,000 water samples, runs more than 50,000 water quality tests throughout its system, and mails a water quality report to customers to describe the overall quality of water from collection and storage to customers’ taps. Lead is not found in Denver’s source water (rivers and reservoirs), treated water or public water system.

In addition to testing throughout its public system, for the past 20 years Denver Water has conducted a testing program inside homes with lead plumbing. In the utility’s most recent testing, water samples from 60 homes were analyzed. Eight of those samples showed lead levels that were higher than the federal standard. All eight homes were built before 1920.

“The health and safety of all our customers is very important to us,” said Tom Roode, director of Operations & Maintenance for Denver Water. “We thoroughly test our water before and after treatment and as it flows through our pipes in the street, so we know lead is not present in the public water system. But, lead was used for years in paint, plumbing and other household products, and still exists in older homes and buildings. In our experience, the structures most likely to have lead plumbing issues were built in the mid-1950s or earlier.”

Customers who are concerned about their home plumbing should consider taking the following steps:

– Run your water to flush out lead. If it hasn’t been used for several hours, run the cold water tap until the temperature is noticeably colder. This flushes lead-containing water from the pipes.
– Always use cold water for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula.
– Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
– Consider investing in a water filtration system. Filters must meet NSF Standard 53, and they range from pitchers that cost as little as $20 to under-sink systems for $100 or more. More information can be found at www.nsf.org or by calling 1-800-NSF-8010.
– Have your household water tested by a state-certified laboratory. You can find a list of reputable, certified labs at www.coloradostatelab.us.
– Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing lead. Brass faucets, fittings and valves, including those advertised as “lead-free,” may leach lead into drinking water. Use only lead-certified contractors for plumbing work.
– Have a licensed electrician check your wiring. If grounding wires from your electrical system are attached to your pipes, corrosion may be greater. Check with a licensed electrician or your local electric code to determine if your wiring can be grounded elsewhere.

“Because there were eight homes with elevated levels of lead among our sample group, we are required by Federal regulations to let all customers know about the issue,” said Roode. “In addition to notifications about lead plumbing that we send to customers each year in our water quality report, we want to use this opportunity to raise awareness in the community and provide our customers with information to take appropriate steps.”

Denver Water customers will receive a brochure in the mail, which contains the required notice as well as educational information, by the end of November. The brochure and additional information are available on Denver Water’s website, http://www.denverwater.org/lead.

Additional information on lead can be found at www.epa.gov/lead, www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead and in this fact sheet.

More coverage from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post. Here’s an excerpt:

The lead concentrations measured in samples from 60 homes exceeded the federal drinking water standard of 15 parts per billion by as much as 3.8 times. The 13 percent of Denver homes that had high lead levels, up from 8 percent of homes in 2011, is the highest percentage logged in 12 years, according to Denver Water data provided to the Denver Post…

While sources of Denver water in the mountains traditionally have been safe, more than half of homes may have lead pipes — either inside the houses or connecting them to Denver Water mains. The lead can be disturbed if pipes are cut or corroding, which lets it leach into water that eventually flows from taps…

Denver Water teams tested household water between June and August. They collected water from 60 homes built between 1880 and 1989 that still have lead plumbing. Eight had lead in water exceeding the 15 ppb standard, which the EPA set as the lowest level that reasonably could be enforced. The tests showed concentrations of 17, 17, 18, 19, 23, 29, 31 and 57 ppb. These results came from homes built before 1920…

Denver Water officials say they don’t see this as a growing problem, despite data showing 13 percent of homes with lead plumbing are affected — the highest since 2000. They point out that calcium and other minerals occurring naturally in mountain source water can insulate lead pipes and prevent contact with water.

More Denver Water coverage here.