Colorado College community pitches in on Fountain Creek cleanup

CC President Jill Tiefenthaler hands out snacks to volunteers. Photo via Colorado College.
CC President Jill Tiefenthaler hands out snacks to volunteers. Photo via Colorado College.

Here’s the release from Colorado College:

More than 350 members of the Colorado College community participated in a local day of service, cleaning up trash along neighboring Monument Creek. Participants worked in two-hour shifts and collected a total of 3,140 pounds of trash from both sides of a two-mile stretch of the creek.

The daylong event, sponsored by CC’s Collaborative for Community Engagement, EnAct, and the Regional Business Alliance, brought out CC faculty, students, and staff, as well as neighbors and area alumni.

The lure of the water and the potential of the area appealed to many, including those who went as part of a CC class called Re-enchanting the World: Reality in Ecological Perspective, co-taught by mathematician Mike Siddoway and theologian Phil Devenish. Among them:

  • Cassie Cohen ’17, a psychology major from Lincoln, Massachusetts, says she wanted to help clean up the creek “because it feels like a part of our campus.”
  • Leah Di Filippo ’17, an economics major from Gladstone, New Jersey, says cleaning the watershed area “will help change how it’s viewed and how it’s branded.”
  • Ben Garinther ’17, a fly fisherman from Baltimore with a self-designed major in environmental philosophy, says “This creek should be valued more. It would be unreal to come down here and fish in Monument Creek.”
  • Rebecca Glazer ’18 from San Francisco with a self-designed major in philosophies of sustainable development, says “It’s important. CC has a responsibility for the waterway that flows through it.”
  • Local alumna Carrie Ryden ’95, MAT ’96 joined the cleanup effort, along with husband Doug and 9-year-old daughter Hazel. “It’s something we can all do together as a family, and the fact that we’re doing it as part of a community is even better,” she says.
  • Other communities were represented as well. All six Greek life organizations on campus participated, and well as nine Colorado College athletic teams, including men and women’s lacrosse, women’s basketball, men’s soccer, cross-country, tennis, women’s rugby, Nordic skiing, and swimming and diving.

    A variety of student organizations joined the effort, including Mortar Board, CC’s Student Government Association, President’s Council, Chinese Students Association, Community Engaged Scholars, and Boettcher Scholars. Entire CC offices had strong showings, including Human Resources, the Career Center, and Communications. Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler was on site during the afternoon, handing out water and a variety of snacks to the volunteers.

    Community members got involved as well, with participants from the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, Regional Business Alliance, Old North End Neighborhood, Steele Elementary School, Palmer High School, and Patty Jewett Neighborhood Association.

    Jake Walden ’16, a fellow in the President’s Office and lead coordinator on campus for the effort, said he was pleased with the enthusiastic turnout. The event was capped off by a community barbecue for volunteers, which was hosted by members of EnAct, a CC student environmental organization, and paid for by the CC Student Government Association.

    #Drought news: “Denver’s northern and eastern suburbs have been added into a growing area” of D1 — CBS Denver

    Colorado Drought Monitor September 27, 2016.
    Colorado Drought Monitor September 27, 2016.

    From CBS Denver (Chris Spears):

    According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Denver’s northern and eastern suburbs have been added into a growing area of moderate drought, which now extends from Aurora to Fort Collins.

    A second area of moderate drought was developing in east-central Colorado on the eastern side of the Palmer Divide.

    Moderate drought means damage has been reported to crops or pastures and that water shortages are either developing or could be imminent.

    A large part of northwest Colorado remains abnormally dry, or in pre-drought, along with some of the mountains in southern Colorado.

    Fraser River: Union Pacific Railroad violating discharge permit?


    From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Lance Maggart):

    The discharge is occurring at a location very near the Moffat Tunnel and is derived from a culvert located beneath a set of metal stairs that descend right to the banks of the Fraser.

    The UPRR has a permit from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) officially allowing the discharge of the water, but correspondence between Grand County officials and representatives from the CDPHE indicates the current level of pollutants being released are not allowed under the existing permit.

    In correspondence with state officials Grand County has stated the organic compounds found in the discharge are toxic and some are carcinogenic. Emails written by Grand County Water Quality Specialist Katherine Morris to officials from the CDPHE states, “the Railroad has classically discharged these organics, without disclosure to the state, in high concentration pulses which escape routine sampling. The existing and proposed permits do not currently include any organics, let alone include limitations for these.”

    Emails sent by Morris to officials from the CDPHE on Wednesday Sept. 28 state, “I hope the CDPHE will have the opportunity to investigate this case further and address this specific source of contamination.” Officials have also sent photographs to the CDPHE of the point of discharge that show dark, black, almost opaque water flowing from the discharge culvert into the Fraser. The photos appear to have been taken on Sept. 14, 2016.

    Notably, a letter sent on Sept. 19 by Morris to the State’s Clean Water Enforcement Unit, a division within the CDPHE, states, “The Railroad curtailed the polluted discharge by 5:00 pm on the same day that that we were notified of the pollution.”

    Correspondence between Morris and CDPHE officials indicates the permit allowing the discharge of water into the Fraser by the UPRR has been in existence since 2007. Additional email correspondence between Morris and State water officials states, “UPRR has stated that this discharge is associated with annual maintenance activities, and the Railroad has declined to report the discharge as a spill. However, nothing in the permit indicates that pollution of this level is permitted, and it would seem to be a violation of their permit.”

    A water treatment plant, to treat the water discharged into the Fraser by the UPRR, is currently under construction, according to a letter sent to the CDPHE by Grand County in late June regarding a draft permit for the UPRR’s Moffat Tunnel West Portal.

    The letter goes on to state, “To the best of Grand County’s knowledge, there is and has been no treatment of this discharge prior to release to the Fraser River.” The letter also points out that state regulations state, “state water shall be free from substances attributable to human-caused point source or nonpoint source discharge in amounts, concentrations or combinations which are harmful to beneficial uses or toxic to humans, animals, plants or aquatic life.”

    The letter goes on to state that the County, East Grand Water Quality Board and the Town of Winter Park conducted sediment and aqueous testing in Oct. 2015 but that such testing occurred too late after the August cleaning operations to, “indicate the presence of more than one volatile organic carbon (toluene) or significant concentrations of suspended or dissolved contaminants in the aqueous samples.” Samples were collected at sites 287 feet upstream from the discharge point and 2,138 feet downstream.

    The letter does state the downstream samples, “indicate the presence of several semi-volatile organic carbons (SVOCs) and diesel range organics (DROs) that are either not present in the upstream samples (SVOCs), or are present at significantly higher concentrations downstream compared to upstream (DROs) indicating that their presence is a direct result of the tunnel discharge.” The letter noted the lab that tested the samples indicated the existing sediment matrix downstream from the discharge point was, “complex and likely to have a number of interferences.”

    Fish in the Fraser River have struggled because there was too little water for the riparian area that had been created by natural flows. Segments have now been mechanically manipulated to be more narrow. Photo/Allen Best.
    Fish in the Fraser River have struggled because there was too little water for the riparian area that had been created by natural flows. Segments have now been mechanically manipulated to be more narrow. Photo/Allen Best.

    Report offers cold, hard truth about global warming

    Summit County Citizens Voice

    Scientist say Paris deal is not nearly enough to curb harmful global warming

    amaps The average global temperature has spiked to dramatic new highs in the past few months.

    By Bob Berwyn

    The Paris climate agreement will likely be triggered into force within the next few weeks, which marks the beginning — not the end — of an intense effort to try and cap global warming before the planet is overwhelmed by heatwaves, droughts and super storms.

    Governments and citizens need to rapidly ramp up efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, a group of scientists said this week, releasing a new report showing that the climate pledges made toward the Paris agreement won’t do the trick.

    View original post 764 more words

    #AnimasRiver fish survey shows encouraging signs — The Durango Herald

    Animas River photo via Greg Hobbs.
    Animas River photo via Greg Hobbs.

    From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

    Each year, the Parks and Wildlife department conducts an annual survey of fish populations in different stretches of the Animas River. Recently, crews focused on the portion of the river from the bridge behind Durango High School to High Bridge, near the La Plata County Humane Society.

    For more than a decade, fish populations in the Animas have been on a steady decline, attributed to a number of factors, including less water in the river, urban runoff, higher water temperatures and elevated levels of heavy metals.

    As a result, Parks and Wildlife stocks about 20,000 brown and 20,000 rainbow fingerlings a year, which usually have a survival rate of 3 to 5 percent, about the state average.

    Although White said this year’s count didn’t indicate a turning point for fish in the Animas, he did say certain population trends are encouraging.

    “The good news is we captured twice as many fish of quality size – 14 inches or better – compared to last year, so that’s really good,” he said.

    White said another positive sign was crews caught a lot of 2-year-old brown trout, which means more juvenile fish stocked last year survived winter.

    “We haven’t seen that recruitment for a while,” White said. “We also saw a higher number of larger rainbow trout. We’ve seen lots of small fish over the years that don’t seem to make it through the winter, but this year we’re seeing a lot more relative to the past several years.”

    White said it would take a couple weeks to generate a population estimate, but he expects that number to reach or be very close to the Gold Metal Standard the river currently holds on the 4-mile stretch between the confluence with Lightner Creek and the bridge near Home Depot that contains 60 pounds of trout per acre and at least 12 14-inch or larger trout per acre.

    Michigan Ditch tunnel update

    Joe Wright Reservoir (Courtesy of Dick Stenzel at the Applegate Group) and the City of Fort Collins.
    Joe Wright Reservoir (Courtesy of Dick Stenzel at the Applegate Group) and the City of Fort Collins.

    From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

    After overcoming equipment problems and putting in 24-hour work days, crews on Wednesday were within 35 feet of reaching the end of what will be a 764-foot-long tunnel.

    “We’ve made tremendous progress …,” said Owen Randall, chief engineer with Fort Collins Utilities. “We should be out sometime (Thursday) or Friday at the very latest.”

    Breaking through the mountain will be done slowly and carefully to avoid destabilizing the mountainside, he said.

    Crews still have four to six weeks of work to wrap up the project, which will carry Michigan Ditch and its valuable water to city-owned Joe Wright Reservoir near Cameron Pass.

    Dismantling and removing a custom-built tunnel boring machine from the mountain will take three to four days. Hydraulic and electronic equipment used to operate the machine will be stripped from the tunnel before a 60-inch diameter pipe is installed to carry the water.

    #Drought news: D0 and D1 expanded around #Denver, 30 days of below normal precip for #Colorado lowers streamflow

    Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

    For the USDM 7-day period ending on September 27, a low pressure system produced above-normal precipitation in the western High Plains southwestward into the much of the Mountain West. The frontal boundary that was associated with the low produced copious amounts of rainfall for the Southern Plains stretching northward into Upper Midwest. Parts of the Mid-Atlantic also saw above-normal precipitation for the period. Drier-than-normal conditions existed for much of the country east of the Mississippi, especially for the Ohio Valley. Temperatures were as much as 10 degrees above normal for the parts of the Midwest while the Southwest and Northwest were cooler than normal. These warm and dry conditions in the nation’s eastern half contributed to expansion of drought in the Northeast and Southeast, while drought conditions improved in the High Plains and parts of the South. Please note that the Drought Monitor depicts conditions valid through Tuesday morning, 8 a.m., EDT (12 UTC); any of the recent locally heavy rain which fell after Tuesday morning (September 27) will be incorporated into next week’s drought assessment…

    High Plains and Midwest
    In the middle of the USDM period, an inch of rainfall fell in the drought stricken areas of the High Plains. As a result, short term dryness was removed in northwest North Dakota and multiple levels of drought were contracted in western South Dakota. It was reported that some small grasses have greened up and winter wheat planting is going full steam ahead. However, an extended dry period in the northeastern part of South Dakota kicked off the soybean harvest, and harvest activities should increase this coming week. Precipitation during the last 30-days in Montana and Wyoming was much above normal, which contributed to improved conditions in southern Montana, western Wyoming and eastern Idaho. Streamflow levels at 7 and 14 days were at or above average, while the 30-day percent of normal precipitation was more than 200 percent of normal…

    In Colorado, below normal precipitation during the past 30 days was reflected in the low streamflows, resulting in a small expansion of D0 in the central part of the state. Stations in and around Denver were showing near-extreme to extreme dryness at the 3-4 month time scale, resulting in the expansion of D0 and D1 in the area. Due to the unseasonably high precipitation totals in eastern Utah, SPIs have shifted from negative to positive through the six month timescales. It was reported that the benefits of this could be seen in both the soils and streams…

    It is the dry season in much of the western U.S. , so no changes were made during this USDM shift…

    Looking Ahead
    During the next few days, a strong upper level low pressure system stalls out over the Ohio Valley providing much needed drought to the Mid-Atlantic region. As much as 3-6 inches of rain is forecasted, so flooding and flash flooding is possible in some areas. Some of the areas that were placed in D0 status this USDM week may see several inches of rain from this event. Please note that the Drought Monitor depicts conditions valid through Tuesday morning, 8 a.m., EDT (12 UTC); any of the recent locally heavy rain which fell after Tuesday morning (September 27) will be incorporated into next week’s drought assessment. Meanwhile, the rest of the CONUS will be relatively quiet. For average temperatures during the next few days, the largest positive anomalies are forecasted to occur in the West, Northwest, and High Plains. The largest negative anomalies should be concentrated in the Midwest and are forecasted to gradually slide southward. For the second half of the next USDM period, much cooler than normal temperatures return to the West Coast, while the warmer than normal temperatures are confined to much of the area east of the Rockies. The 6-10 day outlooks from CPC show an increase probability of warmer than normal temperatures for the eastern half of the country and the western half has the best chance of cooler than normal temperatures. There is an increased probability that above normal precipitation will fall in the Northern Rockies and High Plains while the probability is best for below normal precipitation to occur in the Southeast.