Getting personal about water use

Mile High Water Talk

Pilot program’s water use reports offer customers insights on efficiency.

By Dana Strongin

We realize it’s easy to say changing a yard can make it more beautiful and still use less water. It’s not so easy to explain how, yet our customers prove there are plenty of appealing options.

Residents throughout our service area have achieved water-efficient results when they put beautiful, low-water landscape ideas into action — everything from native plants to entertaining spaces to vegetable gardens.

This summer, homeowners in the Park Hill area — who ended up including 9News anchor Kyle Clark — are receiving personalized outdoor water use reports as part of a pilot program.

ben-tracy-soren Ben Dinsmore and his wife, Tracy, and son, Soren, ditched their front lawn in favor of a vegetable garden after moving to Park Hill two years ago.

They are learning how their water use compares with what is considered efficient, as…

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@USBR: Reclamation Awards $1.4 Million Contract for Work at Lemon Dam

Lemon Dam, Florida River
Lemon Dam, Florida River

Here’s the release the US Bureau of Reclamation (Justyn Liff):

Reclamation has awarded a contract for $1.4 million to Gracon, LLC of Loveland, Colorado for fabricating and installing a steel intake bulkhead gate and refurbishing four trash racks and high-pressure slide gates at Lemon Dam located near Durango, Colo.

The bulkhead gate will seal the intake structure to provide a dry work environment for working on the high pressure slide gates while allowing flows into the Florida River to continue. The trash racks prevent unwanted debris from entering the intake structure and protect the high pressure gates that regulate flows through the dam.

Off-site fabrication for the steel intake bulkhead gate and other preparatory work will begin in September 2016. On-site work at Lemon Dam is tentatively scheduled to begin in late October 2016 and be completed in January 2017.

@OmahaUSACE: Public meetings scheduled to discuss Cherry Creek Dam studies

Cherry Creek Dam looking south
Cherry Creek Dam looking south

Here’s the release from the US Army Corps of Engineers (Eileen Williamson):

Three public meetings to provide an update on the status of two studies taking place at Cherry Creek Dam are scheduled for the week of September 20.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host meetings to provide a status update on alternatives under consideration to address risks from extreme storm events associated with Cherry Creek Dam including a study to modify the dam’s water control plan.
The meetings will be held at the following times and locations:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 20 from 6 – 8 p.m.
    Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church
    Rooms 112/113 (Main Building)
    10150 E. Belleview Avenue
    Englewood, CO 80111
  • Wednesday, Sept. 21 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
    Virginia Village Library
    1500 S. Dahlia Street
    Denver, CO 80222
  • Thursday, Sept. 22 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
    Aurora Municipal Center
    City Café
    15151 E. Alameda Parkway
    Aurora, CO 80012
  • The public meetings will include a presentation and an open house to provide the public an opportunity to ask questions about Cherry Creek Dam and the alternatives being presented and considered as part of the Dam Safety Modification Study and Water Control Plan Modification Study.

    Meeting materials will be made available online following the meetings at http://go.usa.gov/cQ7hP.

    Background: Cherry Creek Dam and Reservoir is located in the southeast Denver metropolitan area on Cherry Creek, 11.4 miles upstream of its confluence with the South Platte River.

    In 2005, (post-Katrina) USACE began screening its dams (approximately 700 across the U.S.) to determine each dam’s risk level. Cherry Creek Dam received an elevated risk rating primarily because of the large downstream population and the potential for overtopping during an extremely rare precipitation event.

    A dam safety modification study began in 2013 and is being conducted in accordance with USACE policy as described in Engineering Regulation 1110-2-1156 “Safety of Dams – Policy and Procedures.” An Environmental Impact Statement is also being prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended.

    #ColoradoRiver: Momentum — Doug Kenney #COriver

    How much water reaches the Westwater stretch of the Colorado River, and then Lake Powell, is taking on increasing importance to Colorado water officials. A new study is underway to look at much more water is available to develop on the Western Slope, and it's caught the attention of east slope water officials. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism
    How much water reaches the Westwater stretch of the Colorado River, and then Lake Powell, is taking on increasing importance to Colorado water officials. A new study is underway to look at much more water is available to develop on the Western Slope, and it’s caught the attention of east slope water officials. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

    From Carpe Diem West (Doug Kenney):

    I’ve been spending a lot of time lately talking to colleagues about the current state of the Colorado River, and if there’s one word that captures their collective assessment, it is momentum. Throughout the basin, a lot of really good innovations are occurring. Conservation has, rightly, emerged as a credible management tool, and not merely something for the hippies to talk about. Cooperation among the states, between the US and Mexico, and between the water users and environmentalists, is arguably at an all-time high. Thoughtful people hold key posts in many of the relevant agencies. And so on. Sure, there’s still too many efforts to build new straws to further depletions, some key players—such as the tribes—are still struggling for meaningful inclusion, and there’s never enough money, especially for costly reforms such as improved watershed management. But compared to 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, it’s a different world. Momentum.

    But is it enough? Can incremental progress on several fronts congeal to form a comprehensive, lasting solution to the river’s problems? And can it happen on a schedule that acknowledges that the climate will continue to warm, populations will continue to grow, and that persistently low reservoir storage makes the region increasingly vulnerable should a few really dry years be around the corner. The challenges are all growing, and despite our current momentum, Lake Mead—the unofficial canary in this coal mine—is projected to drop further over the next 2 years. We are doing better—arguably, much better. Nobody should be shy in acknowledging this; some boasting is justified. But we aren’t winning yet. Can incremental reforms ultimately tip the scales, shifting the basin’s course from one of steady decline to one leading to true sustainability, or will it only delay a day of reckoning that ushers in more sweeping changes—reforms that go beyond what current negotiations envision? I don’t pretend to definitely know that answer. Nobody does. But I suspect we likely need one or more new “grand bargains” to get us to the finish line. If so, the ultimate value of the incremental reforms may be in establishing the networks and laying the groundwork for those conversations to occur. Momentum.

    Dr. Doug Kenney
    Doug is the Senior Research Associate, Getches-Wilkinson Natural Resources Law Center and Director of the GWC Western Water Policy Program. Doug is a member of The Colorado River Research Group; a self-directed team of ten veteran Colorado River scholars. A founding member of Carpe Diem West, he also participates on the program team. He researches and writes extensively on several water-related issues, including law and policy reform, river basin and watershed-level planning.

    #AnimasRiver: Updated EPA National Priorities List includes #GoldKingMine

    From the Engineering and Mining Journal:

    This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added three mining-related sites to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites. These include the Bonita Peak Mining District (BPMD) site in San Juan County, Colorado; the Argonaut mine, Amador County, California; and the Anaconda Aluminum Co.’s Columbia Falls Reduction Plant site, also known as the Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. (CFAC) site, in Columbia Falls, Montana.

    The law establishing the Superfund program, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), requires the EPA to update the NPL at least annually and clean up hazardous waste sites. The designation comes a little more than a year after the EPA released 3 million gallons of water from the Gold King mine into the Animas River fouling rivers and lakes from Colorado to Nevada. The Gold King mine is one of several abandoned mines in the Bonita Peak district…

    The lawsuits stemming from this mishap are just now coming to a head. The state of New Mexico, however, is suing the state of Colorado, claiming it approved the plans that led to this situation.

    The Bonita Peak Mining District site consists of historic and ongoing releases from mining operations in three drainages, which converge into the Animas River near Silverton, Colorado. Water quality in the BPMD has been impaired by acid mine drainage for decades. Since 1998, the state of Colorado has designated portions of the Animas River downstream from Cement Creek as impaired for heavy metals, including lead, iron and aluminum. The EPA has waste quantity data on 32 of Bonita Peak’s 48 sources. These 32 sources have waste rock and water discharging out of adits at a combined rate of 5.4 million gallons per day. Cadmium, copper, manganese and zinc are the known contaminants associated with these discharges.