Water Values podcast: Membrane Technology and the Revolutionary Aquaporin Membrane with Claus Helix-Nielsen

watervalues10192015

Click here to listen to the podcast. Here’s the inside skinny:

Claus Helix-Nielsen, the Vice President of Public-Private Partnerships for Aquaporin A/S, joins The Water Values Podcast to discuss the state of membrane technology and the Aquaporin A/S forward osmosis membrane. Claus’ depth and breadth of experience will impress you as he provides the history of how these membranes are deployed to provide commercial benefits. Claus also provides unique insight into the research and development process and how funding is such a critical element of technology development.

#ElNino: WWA & NOAA PSD El Niño Panel Discussion and Webinar Friday, October 23 10:00 – 11:00 am

CIRES Auditorium
University of Colorado Boulder Campus

Open to the Public

This seminar will be available via live webcast. To view the live webcast please go to Adobe Connect and login as a guest.

What does the current strong El Niño event mean for this coming snowpack and runoff season in Colorado? WWA and the NOAA ESRL Physical Science Division (PSD) are convening a panel of experts to discuss what El Niño is and what it does, past El Niño impacts across Colorado, and what kind of weather we might expect this fall, winter and spring. After an overview of a 2-page briefing document to be released the same day, the panelists will make brief remarks, followed by questions from the audience.

Average influence of El Niño on US temperature and precipitation
Average influence of El Niño on US temperature and precipitation

Steamboat Springs: The “Great Divide” at the Chief Theater on November 14 #COWaterPlan

Chief Theater Steamboat Springs via WayMaking.com
Chief Theater Steamboat Springs via WayMaking.com

From the Community Agriculture Alliance (Marsha Daughenbaugh) via Steamboat Today:

Mark your calendar now and plan to attend “The Great Divide,” a feature-length documentary exploring the historic influence of water in connecting and dividing an arid state and region. The film will screen at 6:15 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Chief Theater in Steamboat Springs.

The Emmy award-winning team at Havey Productions, in association with Colorado Humanities, produced “The Great Divide,” and the film crew angled from every corner of Colorado and all of its major river basins.

“The water we take for granted each and every day gets its start here in our state,” filmmaker Jim Havey said. “Our goal for this film is to raise public understanding and appreciation of Colorado’s water heritage, and we hope to inspire a more informed public discussion concerning the vital challenges confronting our state and region with increasing urgency.”

The companion book, written by Stephen Grace, will be a natural resource for viewers who seek additional knowledge beyond the film and will be on sale at the premiere. The coffee table book features a vast array of breathtaking photographs, both archival and contemporary, serving as attractive illustrations and a supplemental way to tell the story.

The Steamboat showing is the culmination of a 10-city tour throughout Colorado that began Aug. 8. The response throughout the state has sparked conversations about the future of water usage and encouraged better understanding of the related challenges.

The doors at The Chief will open at 5:30 p.m., and the film will begin promptly at 6:15. Following the film, a Q&A panel session will be moderated by Tommy Rossi, Routt County Cattlemen president.

Panelists include Taylor Hawes, providing expertise on the Colorado River; Mary Brown, long-serving member of the Yampa-White-Green Round Table; and Alden Vanden Brink, with the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District. Questions and comments will be accepted from the public.

Sponsored in part by Community Agriculture Alliance, The Nature Conservancy and Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, “The Great Divide” is an event not to be missed. It is an opportunity for all of us to better connect with all water users throughout the state.

Watch the film trailer at http://thegreatdividefilm.com.

Marsha Daughenbaugh is the executive director of Community Agriculture Alliance.

Click here to read the Coyote Gulch review.

#AnimasRiver: After Gold King Spill, Focus Turns to Good Samaritan Legislation — Colorado Public Radio

Colorado abandoned mines
Colorado abandoned mines

From Colorado Public Radio (Grace Hood):

“Blowout scenarios — they are impressive, they get a lot of attention, they are probably not the biggest issue,” said Peter Butler, co-chair of the Animas River Stakeholders Group. “The biggest issue is more the continuous metal loading that comes from the mining sites.”

Take the site of the Gold King Mine spill. Construction crews have now finished a $1.5 million temporary wastewater treatment plant for the Gold King Mine. EPA on-scene coordinator Steven Way explains that 500 to 600 gallons of orange water has continued to gush out of the mine since last August…

Experts say the slow discharge of tainted waste is gradually polluting waterways. Across the West, a 2011 GAO report estimates about 33,000 abandoned hardrock mines are causing environmental problems. Colorado has identified 230 abandoned mines draining waste into waterways. Money is one hurdle. Legal accountability is another.

Liability Blamed For Deterring Cleanup

Right now a primary deterrent to voluntary cleanup efforts involve the ongoing liability that groups would have if they attempt clean up under the Clean Water Act.

The Colorado-based Keystone Policy Center has worked on ways to solve this problem. Policy Director Doug Young says one solution could come from Good Samaritan legislation, which seeks to amend the Clean Water Act to allow environmental groups and local governments to be involved with more clean-up efforts.

“Because we really don’t have the resources federally, privately, to do it,” said Young. “I don’t know where else we’re going to find the resources to address the problem.”[…]

But the Gold King spill has shifted the focus onto abandoned mines and Good Samaritan Legislation. Some in Congress — including Democratic and Republican Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet — have said they’ll sponsor a bill this session. Intense debate of the topic is expected during an Oct. 21 hearing.

But the fact remains that lawmakers have tried and failed over the past two decades to pass a bill. Former Democratic Sen. Mark Udall unsuccessfully sponsored bills on the topic multiple times.

Those skeptical of the idea include California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, former chairman of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee. She raised concerns about potential legislation at a September hearing on the Gold King Mine spill.

“These so-called Good Samaritan waivers unless they are very carefully crafted are not the solution,” she said.

Boxer and others are concerned that companies won’t be held fully responsible for clean up. Other environmental groups prefer charging hard rock mining companies a federal reclamation fee — similar to what coal mining companies pay.

In the meantime, the clean-up pace of abandoned mines across Colorado continues to be slow. Over the past six years, the state has spent $2 million annually, averaging about three or four mine clean ups per year.

Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment of the Upper #ColoradoRiver Basin

Upper Colorado River Basin month to date precipitation through October 18, 2015 via the Colorado Climate Center
Upper Colorado River Basin month to date precipitation through October 18, 2015 via the Colorado Climate Center

Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.

The Pueblo Board of Water Works is looking at a 3% rate hike for 2016

Water infrastructure as sidewalk art
Water infrastructure as sidewalk art

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Pueblo Board of Water Works is looking at a 3 percent rate increase for next year, after absorbing a loss of about $800,000 in revenues this year.

“We’re going to be about $800,000 short in water sales this year, but it shouldn’t affect the budget because we’ve made it up in other areas,” said Seth Clayton, director of administrative services.

Board member Tom Autobee was concerned that revenues were off from projections, looking at revenue reports for the first nine months of the year.

Clayton explained that revenues were at 75 percent at that time, but have been increasing because of more outdoor watering during a warm, dry fall. He expects a shortfall of about 350 million gallons of usage, out of an estimated 8.2 billiongallon projection.

Revenues have picked up in several other areas, including raw water leases, main assessments and the plant water investment fee. Combined, they produced more than $1 million in revenues than was expected.

The water board will have a workshop on its 2016 budget on Nov. 10, and could have some additional pieces to fit together. A public hearing and adoption is scheduled for Nov. 17.

On Tuesday, the board heard a presentation from Sparq Natural Gas on the potential long-term savings of converting vehicles to compressed natural gas. The state Department of Local Affairs has grant money available to ease front-end costs.

The board also reviewed its policy on charging customers for water at a Downtown filling station. New software will streamline the billing process with a “pay at the pump” approach, Clayton said.

And it looked at the $1 per month fee that serves as an insurance policy for service line replacement and repairs, which began appearing on customers’ bills in September.

Since May, Pueblo Water has repaired 37 lines at an average cost of $3,500 per incident, said Matt Trujillo, director of operations.

At that rate, there would be 87 cases per year, within the range of being covered by the $34,000 the fee generates each month. The board agreed to wait for a year of operation to determine how well the program is working.

Overall, the budget for next year holds few surprises.

Revenues are projected to be about $33.9 million. Pueblo Water employs 137 people with about $9 million in salaries and $5.5 million in related personnel costs.

Other large expenditures include $3.6 million for utilities, primarily electricity; $1.9 million for outside services; $1.4 million for main expansion and improvement projects; and $1 million for the continuing automated meter program.

#COWaterPlan: “We’re going to add a storage goal, a measurable objective” — James Eklund

Barker Meadows Dam Construction
Barker Meadows Dam Construction

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Objections from Front Range cities are forcing state officials to make a last-minute overhaul of Colorado’s water plan and pledge to build new reservoirs that enable population growth.

Aurora, Colorado Springs, Denver and Northern Water providers also are demanding that the state detail plans for the diversion of more water across mountains to the Front Range.

That puts them at odds with western slope residents, who on Tuesday weighed in with their own demand that Gov. John Hickenlooper block diversion of more water…

Colorado Springs lambasted it as “guardrails without a road” — a list of what Colorado must not do — and said it was biased against cities and failed to direct action to meet growing needs.

Springs utilities officials issued a 14-page critique demanding corrections to secure city support, asserting that “one or more new transmountain diversions will ultimately need to be constructed to address Colorado’s water supply gap.” The plan “should include an affirmative statement that it is state policy to develop additional storage.”[…]

The state’s chief planner said in a Denver Post interview that 46 staffers are scrambling to fix the plan and include a massive new commitment for new reservoir storage of 130 billion gallons.

That’s equal to what planners propose to gain from city water-saving such as less watering of lawns.

But there’s still no consensus over where water to fill new reservoirs would come from to meet a projected 2050 annual shortfall of 163 billion gallons.

Aurora shares some of Colorado Springs’ concerns about lining up sufficient supplies and storage, Aurora Water director Marshall Brown said. It also is disappointed the plan emphasizes urban conservation when agriculture uses 85 percent of water statewide, Brown said.

“We’re still committed to making progress on conservation but that progress isn’t going to be enough to solve the water deficit,” he said.

Northern Water also urged state planners to make changes, contending increased diversion from the western slope “has got to be on the table,” spokesman Brian Werner said. New reservoirs are essential, he said.

Denver Water manager Jim Lochhead favored “a more specific action plan” from the state, adding that Denver is optimistic a final plan will help meet water challenges.

Meanwhile, 1,500 western Colorado residents petitioned Hickenlooper opposing more siphoning to Front Range cities and suburbs.

“That water’s our livelihood. Our ranchers use it. Farmers use it. We use it for recreation, tourism,” said Bryan Fleming, mayor in the town of Silt.

“We stand together. We cannot afford to lose any more water on this side of the mountains. We understand they have water issues but we need to come to a comprehensive plan with conservation. We need to watch building and developers should have to secure water before building.”

A Colorado Water Plan lacking support from Front Range cities and suburbs, where 80 percent of the state’s 5.3 million people live, could be hard to implement, forcing state lawmakers to try to manage water scarcity.

Colorado Water Conservation Board director James Eklund said he’s aware of Front Range cities’ objections and acknowledged the current plan contains no target for increased reservoir storage.

“We’re going to correct that,” he said. “We’re going to add a storage goal, a measurable objective.”

Ensuring new storage space to hold 130 billion gallons would address “a huge chunk of the gap” between water expected to be available and expanded demands, Eklund said.

Colorado transmountain diversions via the State Engineer's office
Colorado transmountain diversions via the State Engineer’s office

Meanwhile Citizens for West Slope Water are against another transmountain diversion. Here’s a report from Gary Harmon writing for The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

The soon-to-be completed first version of the Colorado water plan should reject a new diversion of water from the Western Slope to the Front Range, according to a group of Western Slope stakeholders.

Citizens for West Slope Water on Tuesday delivered a petition to Gov. John Hickenlooper calling for the water plan to recognize that no more diversions are practical.

“The simple truth is that the Western Slope in Colorado has no more water to give,” said Michael Langhorne, president of Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp. “The impacts of additional transmountain diversions to the Front Range would be an economic disaster for us. Our families, our local economies and our very lives depend on the responsible use of our water resources, and I believe we should first be looking for ways to conserve and re-use water across the state.”

The petition contained almost 1,500 signatures of Western Slope opponents of transmountain diversions, the organization said.

The existing network of diversions now sends as many as 600,000 acre feet of water from the west side of the Continental Divide to the east side.

As currently drafted, the state water plan includes provisions under which transmountain diversions could be discussed, but there is no prohibition and the plan isn’t binding.

The petition calls for the plan to recognize the priority of modernizing and maximizing municipal conservation and re-use.

The petition cites a letter from the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado that says growth on the Front Range could outstrip existing water needs by 600,000 acre feet by 2050.

The state water plan will likely include a conceptual framework that set the terms for how any proposed transmountain diversion will be handled, said James Eklund, executive director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which is drafting the water document.

The framework rightfully has been praised by county commissioners and water officials on both sides of the state, Eklund said,

“To be clear, absent this framework approach, the status quo is the standard fistfight in water court that leaves everyone unhappy,” including West Slope Citizens for Water, Eklund said.

From Aspen Journalism (Brent Gardner-Smith) via The Aspen Times:

Officials at the Colorado Water Conservation Board are going to add more action items with deadlines to the final Colorado Water Plan by the board’s next meeting on Nov. 19 and 20 in Denver.

Final public comments on the draft water plan were due by Sept. 17. And on Oct. 6, the Colorado Water Conservation Board met in a five-hour work session to go over the latest draft of the state’s first official water-supply plan.

At that meeting, board members told staff to add to the plan specific “measurable objectives” with “date certain” deadlines, according to James Eklund, the director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

The board wants to see “clear measurable goals” for water conservation, water storage, land use and other issues, Eklund said, noting that Gov. John Hickenlooper also wants to see action items with deadlines.

“He was very clear that we cannot surrender the momentum we’ve developed during the drafting of the water plan,” Eklund said.

The final water plan is due on Hickenlooper’s desk by Dec. 10, but Eklund said he and his staff are working hard to get the document finished and approved by the board at its next regular meeting, set for Nov. 19 and 20 in Denver.

“It’s a target date,” said Eklund of Nov. 19, noting that the CWCB was slated to meet at the History Colorado Center and approval of the state’s first statewide water plan there would be a fittingly historic moment.

MORE STORAGE, CONSERVATION

Alan Hamel, a board member, told the members of the Arkansas River basin roundtable on Oct. 14 about a number of actions that are now to be included in the final water plan, according to an Oct. 16 article in the Pueblo Chieftain.

The action items included “obtaining an additional 400,000 acre-feet of (water) storage by 2050, reducing the municipal (water supply) gap from 560,000 acre-feet annually to zero by 2030,” and “setting a goal of 400,000 acre feet of urban conservation by 2050,” according to the Chieftain.

Hamel also said the list of such action items in chapter 10 of the water plan was to be trimmed from 200 items to 36, according to the Chieftain article, which was written by veteran water reporter Chris Woodka.

The potential addition of these and other specific action items has caught the interest of officials at the Colorado River District, which met Tuesday in Glenwood Springs.

Erik Kuhn, the director’s general manager, told the district’s board that he had talked Monday with Eklund about the addition of new action items into the plan and told him he would like to see and comment on the list before they are included in the final water plan.

The River District, which closely guards Western Slope water, is also concerned with “what happens next” after the water plan is approved.

Kuhn posed a question in a memo to his board that many people in the state also are asking.

“Will the plan sit on the shelf, collect dust and largely be ignored?” Kuhn wrote. “Or, will we find a way to use it as a template and move forward?”

Kuhn said one key is if the Colorado Water Conservation Board will help or hinder the state’s river basin roundtables as they get started on water projects identified in various “basin implementation plans” developed as part of the water plan process.

Other issues raised by Kuhn include where the state will find the money to pay for both water projects and environmental protections and if a statewide water conservation goal of 400,000 acre feet of water is feasible — especially given the doubts voiced by several Front Range municipal water providers.

In a Sept. 17 comment letter to the board, the River District also raised a series of concerns, including the need to avoid a “compact call” from lower basin states, whether measures to reduce the use of water by agriculture will be effective and the need to improve coordination of local land-use policy and water supply.

The district also addressed the emerging concept of developing “stream management plans” to better understand how water diversions in the state’s rivers are affecting the environment. The district suggests that the $1 million budgeted by the state for such plans is likely not enough.

Also Tuesday, a group called Citizens for Western Slope Water said it had delivered a petition to Hickenlooper and Eklund signed by 1,500 residents of western Colorado, including many citizens from Grand Junction and Durango.

“The Western Slope in Colorado has no more water to give,” the petition states. “We the undersigned western Colorado residents, strongly urge you to oppose any new transmountain diversion that will take more water from the Western Slope of Colorado, as you develop Colorado’s Water Plan. We cannot solve our state’s future water needs by simply sending more water east.”

Aspen Journalism has been collaborating with The Aspen Times and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent on coverage of rivers and water. More at http://www.aspenjournalism.org.