The One World One Water Center June 2014 newsletter is hot off the presses

Denver City Park sunrise
Denver City Park sunrise

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

Denver Metro Water Festival
On May 21, 2014 in partnership with Denver Water and Suburban Providers of Denver Water, the One World One Water Center hosted over 800 sixth graders from the Denver Metro area on Auraria Campus for the very first Denver Metro Water Festival.

Energy Fuels sells the Piñon Ridge uranium plant site

Piñon Ridge uranium plant site
Piñon Ridge uranium plant site

From the Denver Business Journal (Caitlin Hendee):

Energy Fuels, which previously had plans to build the nation’s first new uranium mill in 30 years, sold its Piñon Ridge license and several other assets in Western Colorado.

The Toronto, Canada-based company (TSE: EFR) that has an office in Lakewood bought a large quantity of land in the western part of the state almost five years ago.
Colorado in May gave the mill the required “radioactive materials handling” license, but company spokesperson Curtis Moore told the DBJ that Energy Fuels wouldn’t begin construction until “market conditions warrant.”

The company would also need an “air permit” from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to begin the $150 million project.

The mill has been an area of hot debate for environmental activists, who in March sued the U.S. Forest Service to stop the government from allowing the mill to be built near the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Energy Fuels instead diverted plans to build it in Montrose County.

But the company said it has entered into agreements to sell the license and the Piñon Ridge mill to a private investor group managed by Baobab Asset Management LLC and George Glasier.

Glasier served as president from 2006 until March of 2010.

The company said the sale also includes mining assets — such as the Sunday Complex, the Willhunt project, the Sage Mine, the Van 4 mine, the Farmer Girl project, the Dunn project and the San Rafael project — all located along the Colorado-Utah border.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

EPA’s efforts to clarify the Clean Water Act upsets some Colorado farmers — Colorado Public Radio

From Colorado Public Radio (Lesley McClurg):

“It does not protect any new types of waters that have not historically been covered under the Clean Water Act and is consistent with the Supreme Court’s more narrow reading of Clean Water Act jurisdiction,” the EPA says.

Yet the proposal is under attack by some the agriculture industry. The National Milk Producers Federation and the American Farm Bureau say the proposal could threaten farming, ranching, homebuilding and energy production.

Colorado Farm Bureau president Don Shawcroft worries that the changes could apply to small streams or ditches that cross his ranch in the San Luis Valley.

“There are many places where that water is diverted into farmer lands from the Rio Grande in the San Luis Valley,” he says. “Because there’s that nexus — that connection — then it is subject to all of the rules in the Clean Water Act, including whether I can put a fence across that ditch; whether I can use herbicides or pesticides. Those are the types of pertinent implications that greatly concern us.”

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has been visiting farms throughout the country in an effort to further dialogue about the proposal. The EPA is taking comments on the proposed rule through October.

More Environmental Protection Agency coverage here.

Colorado Ski Area Water Rights and USFS

Your Water Colorado Blog

Copper Mountain, photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Colorado ski areas got some “fresh powder” in late June in the form of a proposed US Forest Service water rights rule that backs away from an earlier and much criticized approach that would have required ski areas to transfer water rights to the agency.

The new rule, proposed June 23 and open for comment through August 22, would amend internal USFS directives for some 122 ski area concessions across the country by instead conditioning their 40-year special use permits on a commitment that sufficient water stay dedicated to ski area operations even if the area is sold. Under the proposal, permits would be updated as they are renewed to include the water rights commitment language. Currently, USFS policy requires the public hold the rights to such water, but the proposed change would allow water rights to be in the name of the permit holder.

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Water wisely during Smart Irrigation Month

Mile High Water Talk

Smart_Irrigation_Month_logoThe hot month of July typically is when people use the most water. In honor of this busy lawn-watering month, the Irrigation Association created Smart Irrigation Month to remind people about the importance of appropriate irrigation technology and wise watering habits to reduce water use, create healthy lawns and achieve greater agricultural yields.

You can take part in Smart Irrigation Month with these simple tips:

Abide by the watering rules

To help eliminate outdoor water waste, Denver Water implements annual summer water use rules, which help facilitate smart irrigation. The rules include:

  • Water during cooler times of the day — lawn watering is NOT allowed between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Water no more than three days per week.
  • Do not allow water to pool in gutters, streets and alleys.
  • Do not waste water by letting it spray on concrete or asphalt.
  • Repair leaking sprinkler systems within 10 days.
  • Do not…

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Where our water comes from — Fort Collins Coloradoan

Ash and silt pollute the Cache la Poudre River after the High Park Fire September 2012
Ash and silt pollute the Cache la Poudre River after the High Park Fire September 2012

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Ryan Maye Handy):

With Colorado’s water year at its mid-July end and many Northern Colorado reservoirs still flush with the bounty of a plentiful water year, water woes of years past have turned into discussions of how the state will store water in the future.

In the coming months, the Army Corps of Engineers will release an updated study on the Northern Water Conservancy District’s proposal to expand its water storage capacity near Fort Collins. The Northern Integrated Supply Project would build Glade Reservoir northwest of the city, bringing a new reservoir larger than Horsetooth Reservoir to the area.

Before the release of the study reignites the battle over the potential environmental impacts of expanding Northern Colorado’s water storage capacity, we look at where Fort Collins gets the water that provides the basis for everything from the natural resources residents enjoy to the craft beer they drink…

Before the High Park Fire, which burned more than 87,000 acres of the Poudre watershed, Fort Collins Utilities split its water sources between the project and the river. But the Poudre’s water has since become filled with fire and flood debris, which prompted a total shutdown of river water for Fort Collins customers.

Time and the September 2013 floods have cleaned out the river, but the city is still mostly reliant on the C-BT project for more than 60 percent of its water each year.

Fundamentally, snowmelt fills the many reservoirs in the C-BT project. The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which helps manage the project, delivers a certain amount of water to cities like Fort Collins as well as farmers and irrigators — all of whom own hundreds or thousands of acre-feet of the project’s water…

Here’s a look at where our water comes from.

THE WESTERN SLOPE

The water that feeds Colorado — and a vast swath of the nation — begins its downward flow from the Continental Divide high in the Rocky Mountains. In order to harness water that otherwise would flow to the Pacific Ocean, water managers created a vast network of reservoirs, tunnels and canals to reroute Western Slope water to Colorado’s more populous Front Range.

LAKE GRANBY

For Fort Collins, and much of the northern Front Range, this is where it all begins. Snowmelt fills this Western Slope reservoir, and the water from it is pumped to Shadow Mountain Reservoir. From there, it’s literally all downhill — gravity pushes water through five reservoirs until it gets to Horsetooth Reservoir, southwest of Fort Collins. This year, due to above-average snowpack, Lake Granby soon will spill over its banks. It can hold up to 540,000 acre-feet of water.

HORSETOOTH RESERVOIR

Horsetooth was built along with the Colorado-Big Thompson Project and is a fraction of the size of Lake Granby — it holds about 156,000 acre-feet of water. This is where Fort Collins will get most of its C-BT water, which has traveled through the 13-mile Adams Tunnel, under U.S. Highway 34, and through several reservoirs. Fort Collins Utilities has its only operational water treatment plant at Horsetooth. In 2014, Fort Collins gets about 65 percent of its water from the C-BT project.

THE CACHE LA POUDRE RIVER

The Poudre River typically provides Fort Collins with 50 percent of its water. But after the High Park Fire polluted the river, Fort Collins has been forced to shut down its Poudre River sources, sometimes for months. The upper part of the river is considered “wild and scenic” — a federal designation. It is also one of the few remaining dam-free rivers in Colorado. In 2014, Fort Collins gets about 35 percent of its water from the Poudre.

CARTER LAKE

Carter Lake is one of many reservoirs that make up the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. Some of Fort Collins’ water can come from this reservoir, but not frequently. Other reservoirs in the system include Grand Lake, Mary’s Lake, Lake Estes and Flatiron Reservoir, to name just a few.

FORT COLLINS

Treated water coming into Fort Collins comes from a plant near Horsetooth Reservoir. Since Nov. 1, the city has used about 9,700 acre-feet of water from the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, and about 5,200 acre-feet from the Poudre River. Before the High Park Fire, the city typically split its water use between the two sources but has since had to use more C-BT water.

More infrastructure coverage here.

Colorado to get $58 milllion in more federal aid for #COflood recovery — The Denver Post

Plume of subtropical moisture streaming into Colorado September 2013 via Weather5280
Plume of subtropical moisture streaming into Colorado September 2013 via Weather5280

From The Denver Post (Mark K. Matthews):

Victims of the deadly floods that ravaged Colorado in September are in line for another $58.2 million in federal aid thanks to an upcoming grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The relief money, which the agency is expected to announce this week, will be available for a broad range of recovery efforts, from fixing homes to repairing local infrastructure.

And it comes at a time when flood victims across north-central Colorado continue to struggle with the impact of a massive storm that killed at least 10 people and caused more than $3.3 billion in damages, according to disaster officials. An estimated 1,800 homes were destroyed by heavy rains and flooding. Ten months later, nearly 30 families remain in temporary housing, said Tom Schilling, a spokesman for the Colorado Recovery Office.

“Colorado has pulled together in an incredible way,” Schilling said. “But there still remains a lot to be done to rebuild infrastructure, help families recover and help get economies back on track.”

That sentiment was echoed by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who jointly announced the new aid money with fellow Colorado Democrat Mark Udall.

“We knew we’d have a long road to recovery, and we’re making tremendous progress,” said Bennet in a statement.

The $58.2 million grant adds to the $262.1 million that HUD already has sent to Colorado for recovery efforts, as well as $450 million in federal transportation funding that the state received to deal with storm-caused closures to more than two dozen highways and interstates.

“This latest allocation is welcome news for Colorado and underscores the critical role HUD has played and will continue to play in helping us to rebuild smarter and stronger,” Udall said.