Restoration involves thinking long-term for streams after #COflood

Production fluids leak into surface water September 2013 -- Photo/The Denver Post
Production fluids leak into surface water September 2013 — Photo/The Denver Post

From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

“Some wastewater plants were completely flooded, some systems lost treatment capabilities for a while and some lost large segments of sewer lines, but the plant is still operating,” said Steve Gunderson director of the water quality control division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Also, we’ve seen pictures of people whose septic systems were ripped out and we have had reports from three animal feeding operations that had impoundments, where the animal waste is stored, that were impacted,” Gunderson told me Tuesday.

The state knows that the wastewater plant serving Evans has a capacity to process 1.2 million gallons per day was completely flooded by the South Platte River, Gunderson said.

And while the state health department works to figure out what was affected and how, it’s also waiting for the floodwaters to recede to start a sampling program to figure out what contaminants ended up where, he said…

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has said that about 27,000 gallons of oil spilled into the water from storage tanks damaged by the flood. By comparison, the oil spills represent about 4 percent of the 660,000 gallons it takes to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The waste contained in the Evans plant alone would fill nearly two swimming pools…

The health department will start sampling programs as the water drops, but Gunderson said he believes — in the long run — that the flooded rivers will recover. “Water bodies have a way of cleaning themselves up, but we expect it will take time in some areas — the biology of the river has changed,” he said.

The rushing floodwaters probably killed some fish, but others survived and will replenish the stream, he said.

Colorado River District: Recap of our 2013 Annual Water Seminar ‘Shrinking in Supply – Growing in Demand’

Upper Basin States vs. Lower Basin circa 1925 via CSU Water Resources Archives
Upper Basin States vs. Lower Basin circa 1925 via CSU Water Resources Archives

Click here to go to their website for the video of the event.

Colorado Water Plan Community Issue Forum Saturday September 28

Transmountain diversions map via the Division of Water Resources
Transmountain diversions map via the Division of Water Resources

Here’s the pitch:

You are invited to…

Colorado Water Plan
Community Issue Forum

Saturday, 9/28 10-11:30am
Old Town Library, 201 Petersen, Fort Collins

Sen. John Kefalas and Representatives Randy Fischer and Joann Ginal will host a Community Issue Forum called: Developing the Colorado Water Plan: Ensuring Public Interests Have a Voice in Planning Colorado’s Water Future

You are invited to learn about the new state Water Plan, ask questions, and provide comments. The event is free, nonpartisan and open to the public.

Guest speakers will include:

·Mark Easter, Save the Poudre Board of Directors;
·John Stulp, Special Policy Advisor to the Governor for Water;
·Reagan Waskom, Ph.D., Director of the Colorado Water Institute;
·Robert Sakata, Brighton farmer; and
·Drew Peternell, Colorado Director for Trout Unlimited.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage.

Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment of the Upper Colorado River Basin #COdrought

Upper Colorado River Basin   month to date precipitation September 22, 2013 -- Graphic Colorado Climate Center
Upper Colorado River Basin month to date precipitation September 22, 2013 — Graphic Colorado Climate Center

Click here to read the current assessment. Make sure to scroll down to the streamflow graphs. Thank you North American Monsoon.

Several El Paso County water suppliers are interested in Southern Delivery System deliveries

Southern Delivery System route map -- Graphic/Reclamation
Southern Delivery System route map — Graphic/USBR

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Even before a drop of water flows through Southern Delivery System, other El Paso County communities are making plans to hook up to the pipeline.

Donala Water & Sanitation District, which serves 2,600 people north of Colorado Springs plans to begin an environmental impact statement process with Bureau of Reclamation within the next two weeks in order to obtain a long-term storage contract in Lake Pueblo.

Cherokee Metro District, serving about 18,000 people in a community surrounded by Colorado Springs, wants to hook up to SDS in the future.

Those communities will be held to the same environmental commitments, including federal environmental review and stormwater management, under Pueblo County’s 1041 permit.

Donala purchased a ranch south of Leadville for its water rights in 2009, but will need SDS to deliver about 280 acrefeet annually — about 25 percent of its needs. “We have been talking to the city for years,” said Kip Peterson, manager of the Donala District. Donala already has a temporary contract in place to use Colorado Springs water delivery systems to deliver water from the ranch.

Stormwater controls are problematic, because 95 percent of the land in Donala already has been developed, but the district is looking at how to amend its plan to address stormwater, Peterson said.

Like Donala, Cherokee has a contract to buy water from or have its water delivered by Colorado Springs Utilities. Cherokee has a two-year lease from the Pueblo Board of Water Works. Cherokee gets most of its water from wells, but needs additional sources to round out its supply. “Unlike Donala, we don’t yet own any water we could store in Lake Pueblo,” said Sean Chambers, Cherokee manager.

But Cherokee is interested in using SDS for the long-term. Like Colorado Springs, it has some water and wastewater lines that cross Sand Creek, a tributary of Fountain Creek. Those would be held to the same level of scrutiny as Colorado Springs lines.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

Colorado Springs: ‘We could spend billions, but we can’t stop the flooding’ — Paul Kleinschmidt

Fountain Creek Watershed
Fountain Creek Watershed

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A rift between Colorado Springs City Council and Mayor Steve Bach widened Tuesday over the issue of stormwater funding. Colorado Springs City Council voted Tuesday to spend $35,000 to support a stormwater task force, matching $35,000 each from Colorado Springs Utilities and El Paso County, for a total of $105,000. Council also voted to hire its own legal counsel for stormwater issues.

There has been pressure from Pueblo County and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District to fund stormwater projects as part of Colorado Springs’ environmental commitments relating to the Southern Delivery System.

The move comes as the task force is moving toward putting a stormwater tax on the November 2014 ballot as a way of addressing a $900 million backlog in stormwater needs through a regional approach. It also reflects dissatisfaction with Bach, who has refused to participate in stormwater task force meetings.

City Attorney Chris Melcher angrily contested the move, claiming that his office has attorneys with expertise in stormwater, but had never been asked to advise council on stormwater. He said the city charter does not allow conflicting legal opinions and he questioned the expenditure both by council and Utilities.

Several council members rebuked Melcher, asking why no one from his office has attended high-profile task force meetings, and why he has favored Bach on matters related to stormwater. “I understand you’re hired by the mayor, but that’s not my issue,” Council President Keith King told Melcher, adding that if it were possible, council would fire him. “We have not been given the kind of service that we need.”

“If you pass this resolution and decide to act, it is in violation of the charter,” Melcher said.

Council has worked with El Paso County for more than a year to develop a regional approach to stormwater, but now fears that it would again be underfunded as the mayor moves ahead with a separate approach to lump infrastructure needs into one funding scheme. “I’m concerned that stormwater would be folded into all the other infrastructure needs,” said Councilman Joel Miller.

Larry Small, a former councilman who is the executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District, urged council to continue the regional approach, saying it has worked well on other issues such as transportation in the Pikes Peak area.

Doug Bruce, a former county commissioner, state representative and convicted tax evader, contested council’s move, saying it is a waste of money that doesn’t solve anything. Bruce said the money would be better spent cutting down trees that have been allowed to grow in Fountain Creek.

Paul Kleinschmidt, of Taxpayers for Budget Reform, opposed spending money on the task force as well. “We could spend billions, but we can’t stop the flooding,” he said.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.