Environment: Plastic pollution found in mountain lakes

Summit County Citizens Voice

Toxic materials a concern for freshwater ecosystems

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — By now, everyone has heard about the giant ocean eddies of plastic debris — the final resting place, as it were, for the detritus of our throw-away society. As it turns out, the ocean isn’t the only place that’s been polluted by human thoughtlessness.

German scientists say their recent study of Lake Garda, a subalpine lake at the southern edge of the Italian Alps, is also polluted with potentially hazardous plastics. The findings are a warming sign that many other freshwater lakes may be similarly polluted, and that those tiny microplastics are likely finding their way into the food web through a wide range of freshwater invertebrates, too.

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Sante Fe: Day of Action for a Full and Fair Farm Bill

Photo via the City of Santa Fe
Photo via the City of Santa Fe

From the Taos Valley Acequia Association:

WHAT: Day of Action for a Full and Fair Farm Bill
WHERE: Santa Fe Farmers’ Market – Santa Fe Railyard
WHEN: Wednesday, October 16, 2013

11:00am Gathering to eat atole (blue corn)
12:00pm Press Conference – Full and Fair Farm Bill Now

WHO: Speakers and cosponsors:
New Mexico Acequia Association (Paula Garcia)
Taos County Economic Development Corporation (Pati Martinson and Terri Badhand)
Northern New Mexico Stockmans’ Association (Dave Sanchez)
American Friends Service Committee (Don Bustos)

Cosponsors – Rural Coalition, National Latino Farmers and Ranchers.

Carbon Valley: Water line repair and replacement is a top priority #COflood

Weld County Road 13 September 25, 2013 via the Town of Firestone
Weld County Road 13 September 26, 2013 via the Town of Firestone

Here’s the release from the Town of Firestone:

Repairs Continue to Water Supply Lines

Firestone Flood Facebook Photo Gallery

Firestone Flood Photo Gallery NOTE: Until repairs are made by our website provider, the latest photos from Oct. 10 are not included in this gallery.

Repairs continue to be made on two of the three water lines supplying the Carbon Valley area which were damaged in last month’s flooding. The Central Weld County Water District has been working steadily on repairing the lines which were damaged when the St. Vrain River washed out a portion of Colorado Boulevard (CR 13) north of Firestone. In addition to the water lines, nine other utility crossings were also damaged in that area. Until repairs are complete, the town continues to operate on a limited water supply and water restrictions.

On Sept. 27, the CWCWD brought into service a 20-inch temporary bypass piping line to increase water supply to the Carbon Valley area. This temporary piping lies on top of a dam built by the CWCWD to divert water back to the St. Vrain River, as well as down a portion of Colorado Boulevard to connect the lines while repairs continue to the main water supply lines. With the temporary bypass piping line in service, Firestone revised its mandatory water restrictions for residential, commercial and HOA-owned properties.

As of Oct. 10, the CWCWD finished the replacement of the 36-inch main water line across the washed out portion of Colorado Boulevard. In the coming weeks, connections of the repaired line will need to be made to the vicinities of where the temporary piping was installed.

In addition to the repairs being made to the water supply lines, crews are working in synchronized efforts to make road repairs to Colorado Boulevard to expedite the reopening of that roadway.

Fountain Creek: ‘We don’t think sustainable funds are there through a sales tax’ — John Cassiani

Fountain Creek
Fountain Creek

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Businesses, not just government, want to see a higher level of commitment to stormwater funding in Colorado Springs. “We’re looking for an ongoing commitment, with a dedicated funding source that’s stable,” said John Cassiani, a real estate consultant who has served on El Paso County’s stormwater task force.

“When you look across the state and see that we are the largest city in Colorado without a stormwater fee, we need one,” Cassiani said. “We don’t think sustainable funds are there through a sales tax.”

The task force wants to base assessments on square footage of property creating either a separate authority or a stormwater district within the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District. The assessments would appear on property tax bills to avoid the kinds of non-payment issues associated with Colorado Springs’ stormwater enterprise when it collected fees from 2007-09. Communities would sign on, agreeing to maintain at least the current level of funding for maintenance. The money collected would be spent on critical projects that cross political boundaries, but returned to communities proportionately over time.

Colorado Springs City Council and El Paso County commissioners have voted to support the plan, and to gather public input prior to making a suggestion of how to proceed.

No set amounts for stormwater funding have been set, or a timetable developed for when projects would be constructed, City Council President Keith King said.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Mayor Steve Bach calls his plan to address flooding a “Storm Water Hybrid.” He proposes regional cooperation through an authority managed by Colorado Springs.

“We have the lion’s share of responsibility and I am not comfortable with the city delegating that to another entity,” Bach said.

Bach plans to use current funding levels on Springs Community Improvements Program bonds that were approved by voters in 1998-99.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

While the number of Colorado Springs stormwater projects dropped, cost estimates rose for the remaining projects in an engineering report released Friday. The CH2MHill report was ordered by Mayor Steve Bach, who was alarmed that the city’s stormwater backlog costs apparently rose from $500 million in 2009 to almost $688 million in last year’s estimate by a stormwater task force. The new amount was about $535 million.

The engineers started by looking at a list of 282 projects within Colorado Springs, as well as reviewing stormwater documents going back 40 years, project manager Mark Rosser explained. Those projects were part of the task force’s larger study that identified $850 million in backlog for all of El Paso County, as well as nearly $11 million in operation and maintenance needs.

The consultants removed 44 projects that had been constructed, duplicated or that no longer existed. One of those was a $138 million project to replace all corrugated metal pipe drains in the city.

The remaining projects were rated according to urgency, and in some cases broken out into multiple projects.

“We were dealing with long reaches of streams,” Rosser said.

From that list of 239 projects, about 44 were given high priority, with a total cost of $162 million — more than twice the amount critical projects were estimated at in 2009.

The longer Colorado Springs waits to begin addressing projects, the worse things will get, he added.

“The work doesn’t consider what happened in September and October.”

CH2MHill is working on a similar estimate for El Paso County, expected to be completed in December.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Pueblo County commissioners Terry Hart and Sal Pace don’t want to wade into El Paso County politics, but would like to see tangible results on protecting Pueblo from the ravages of Fountain Creek.

“What are you doing today to protect us and how can we rectify that?” Hart asked El Paso County and Colorado Springs officials at a meeting this week.

The commissioners want to hold Colorado Springs to its commitment to help control stormwater made while seeking federal and county permits for the Southern Delivery System.

Pace, who represented Pueblo in the state House at the time, has always been critical of the decision by Colorado Springs City Council in 2009 to abolish the stormwater enterprise.

While most of council at that time — just one of the nine members sat on the board then — thought voters meant to end what tax crusader Doug Bruce called a “rain tax,” others found the message unclear. That does nothing to help Pueblo, which will spend about $200,000 to clean up after the latest downpour in September.

The city also must convince the Army Corps of Engineers to repair its damaged reinforcement of the bank at 13th Street, where a freeway interchange, railroad tracks and flooding are threatened.

Hart wants county staff to review which of the projects are designed to protect Pueblo as flows cross the county line.

“I’m concerned about the patience level of our community,” Hart said. “It is difficult, given what has occurred. The amount of funding over several years seems to have been drained.”

Pace also is concerned about how recent accounting of stormwater projects has changed in Colorado Springs after the large wildfires denuded huge swaths of landscape.

“The two fires create more of an issue, but it’s been an issue before,” Pace said. “We had large trees uprooted here, and smaller rain events are creating larger flood events. Whatever path is chosen, we have to know it will be successful. There is a lot of skepticism in Pueblo.”

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.