Town of Winter Park officials meet with EPA, CDPHE, UPRR to discuss wastewater treatment project — Sky-Hi Daily News


From The Sky-Hi Daily News (Travis Poulin):


The Town of Winter Park scheduled a meeting in Denver with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), participants from Grand County, CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment), UPRR (Union Pacific Railroad), CDM Smith (UPRR’s consultant), Winter Park Ranch and HRS Water Consultants, Inc. on November 21. The meeting was to address the Class V injection well permitting process regarding the permit that will be submitted by the UPRR for a well near the Moffat Tunnel.

According to Lisa McClain-Vanderpool, Public Affairs Officer for the EPA the purpose of the meeting was to educate the parties on the Class V well permitting process and discuss issues associated with the wastewater treatment plant project for discharges from the Moffat Tunnel to the Fraser River. EPA’s UIC (Underground Injection Control) Class V program has authorized the construction of an onsite waste water system for domestic waste. UPRR will submit a Class V permit application for its wastewater treatment facility. Additional sanitary waste would be dumped into the system as well.


Winter Park Town Manager Drew Nelson said, prior to the meeting, that with the nature of the soils in the area, the Town is concerned that contaminants could easily move between the septic and leach field into the Fraser River. The meeting was not held to address the contaminants seen discharging into the Fraser River in September, but only concerned waste materials generated by the new water treatment facility. The facility has been under construction for the last few years.


Grand County Water Specialist Katherine Morris expressed the Water Resource Management department’s concerns about the project to the Grand County BOCC (Board of County Commissioners) on November 1.

Morris submitted an update memo stating that the treatment plant has a bathroom and faucet needing treatment, and will produce a certain amount of centrate waste from the plant waste treatment process that needs to be dealt with appropriately. UPRR applied to Winter Park Water and Sanitation District (WPWSD) to accept the waste stream and was granted a variance from the compulsion to connect because the waste will be classified “industrial” and would require reopening WPWSD’s permit and likely redesign of the plant. UPRR then applied to the county for Class V injection permit, which is essentially an OWTS (On-site Water Treatment System). The OWTS was declined because it would include industrial rather than solely domestic waste. Morris said Grand County Water had several concerns about the new application. She said it is unclear if the plant has a source of potable water for the restroom. Because there is no acknowledgment yet in the discharge permit of the organic contamination within the discharge, to the county’s knowledge, the plant was not designed to treat organics, and it is unclear how much of a threat the organics pose. The update states it is not clear what will be the fate and transport of organics through the treatment process, and they don’t know how much of the organic pollutants will end up in the centrate that is destined for the OWTS. Morris referenced the discharge from the Moffat Tunnel in September, stating that events like that are likely to overwhelm the plant. The update asked: if an OWTS is approved, what oversight will there be to ensure that highly concentrated discharges are actually processed through the plant? And is an OWTS adequate to the task of safely breaking down any organics that survive treatment, or will they just concentrate in the vault or travel by groundwater through the relatively close connection to the Fraser River?


According to the EPA website, a Class V well uses injection techniques different from those used by wells in other classes. Some Class V wells are technologically advanced disposal systems, but most are low-tech holes in the ground. A typical Class V well is shallow and relies on gravity to drain or inject waste into the ground, which is often directly into, or above, an underground source of drinking water. Class V wells are used to inject non-hazardous fluids underground. Most are used to dispose of waste into or above underground sources of drinking water. This disposal can pose a threat to ground water quality if not managed properly.

Examples of simple class V wells are dry wells, cesspools, and septic system leach fields.


The EPA has established minimum requirements to prevent injection wells from contaminating underground sources of drinking water. According to the EPA website, in most cases Class V wells are authorized by rule—meaning they may be operated without a permit as long as the owners or operators abide by a set of regulations:

Submittal of inventory information to their permitting authority and verify that they are authorized to inject—the permitting authority will review the information to be sure that the well will not endanger drinking water

Operate the wells in a way that does not endanger drinking water.


The process for a Class V application relies on public input, according to McClain-Vanderpool.

First, an applicant submits an application to the UIC unit. The UIC unit will make sure the application is complete. If complete the review process starts.

After the technical and administrative review process is done and the application meets EPA requirements, they continue on to the next step. If it does not meet EPA requirements, a letter is sent to the applicant explaining the reason it was not approved.

The UIC program will draft a permit and submit it for a 30-day public notice on their website and in the local newspaper.

If no comments are received, the UIC unit will finalize the permit and issue it. If they get public comment, they will consider the comments for their decision.

The timeline depends on the complete application and the public notice response.

The UIC unit cannot estimate a timeline for this process, according to McClain-Vanderpool.

@USGS: Characterization and relation of precipitation, streamflow, and water-quality data at the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson and Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, Colorado, water years 2013–14


Click here to read the report. Here’s the abstract:

To evaluate the influence of military training activities on streamflow and water quality, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of the Army, began a hydrologic data collection network on the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson in 1978 and on the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site in 1983. This report is a summary and characterization of the precipitation, streamflow, and water-quality data collected at 43 sites between October 1, 2012, and September 30, 2014 (water years 2013 and 2014).

Variations in the frequency of daily precipitation, seasonal distribution, and seasonal and annual precipitation at 5 stations at the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson and 18 stations at or near the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site were evaluated. Isohyetal diagrams indicated a general pattern of increase in total annual precipitation from east to west at the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson and the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site. Between about 54 and 79 percent of daily precipitation was 0.1 inch or less in magnitude. Precipitation events were larger and more frequent between July and September.

Daily streamflow data from 16 sites were used to evaluate temporal and spatial variations in streamflow for the water years 2013 and 2014. At all sites, median daily mean streamflow for the 2-year period ranged from 0.0 to 9.60 cubic feet per second. Daily mean streamflow hydrographs are included in this report. Five sites on the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site were monitored for peak stage using crest-stage gages.

At the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, five sites had a stage recorder and precipitation gage, providing a paired streamflow-precipitation dataset. There was a statistically significant correlation between precipitation and streamflow based on Spearman’s rho correlation (rho values ranged from 0.17 to 0.35).

Suspended-sediment samples were collected in April through October for water years 2013–14 at one site at the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson and five sites at the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site. Suspended-sediment-transport curves were used to illustrate the relation between streamflow and suspended-sediment concentration. All these sediment-transport curves showed a streamflow dependent suspended-sediment concentration relation except for the U.S. Geological Survey station Bent Canyon Creek at mouth near Timpas, CO.

Water-quality data were collected and reported from seven sites on the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson and the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site during water years 2013–14. Sample results exceeding an established water-quality standard were identified. Selected water-quality properties and constituents were stratified to compare spatial variation among selected characteristics using boxplots.

Trilinear diagrams were used to classify water type based on ionic concentrations of water-quality samples collected during the study period.

At the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson and the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, 27 samples were classified as very hard or brackish. Seven samples had a lower hardness character relative to the other samples. Four of those nine samples were collected at two U.S. Geological Survey stations (Turkey Creek near Fountain, CO, and Little Fountain Creek above Highway 115 at Fort Carson, CO), which have different geologic makeup. Three samples collected at the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site had a markedly lower hardness likely because of dilution from an increase in streamflow.

@NOAA: GOES-R is now GOES-16!

From NOAA:

[On] November 29, 2016, NOAA’s GOES-R satellite executed its final liquid apogee engine burn without anomaly. This has placed the satellite approximately 22,000 miles away with an inclination of 0.0 degrees, meaning it has reached geostationary orbit. GOES-R is now GOES-16!

Later today, GOES-16 will perform its second stage solar array deployment, releasing the solar array yoke and solar pointing platform. In the days that follow, the software will be transitioned from the ‘orbit raising’ mission phase to ‘operational,’ several maneuvers will be conducted to adjust the satellites precise orbit, and the magnetometer boom will be deployed. Testing and calibration of GOES-16 will then begin.

GOES-R Prepares For Launch. Photo credit NASA.
GOES-R Prepares For Launch. Photo credit NASA.

McElmo Flume Overlook dedication Dec. 5 — Cortez Journal

Triad Western Constructors restored the foundation McElmo Flume historical site. The structure was stabilized with new concrete footers and the metal was restored. A pullout off U.S. Highway 160 east of Cortez allows travelers to view a piece of pioneer history. Photo credit the Cortez Journal.
Triad Western Constructors restored the foundation McElmo Flume historical site. The structure was stabilized with new concrete footers and the metal was restored. A pullout off U.S. Highway 160 east of Cortez allows travelers to view a piece of pioneer history. Photo credit the Cortez Journal.

From Montezuma County via The Cortez Journal:

Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway, Montezuma County and the Colorado Department of Transportation will host a dedication of the McElmo Flume Overlook at 11 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 5.

Transportation to the site is by shuttle bus from the Montezuma County Fairgrounds.

Visitors are asked to park north of the indoor arena no later than 10:45 a.m. on Dec. 5, to meet the bus. RSVP’s to James Dietrich (970)565-7402,, for planning purposes, please.

A local landmark from the last century, the flume can now be seen from viewing platform at a new highway rest stop off U.S. Highway 160 east of Cortez. The turnout includes informational panels about water and irrigation in our county.

There will be numerous speakers at the dedication. Susan Thomas, of the Trail of the Ancients Byway, will give welcoming remarks; Terry Knight of the Ute Mountain Historic Preservation Office, will conduct a blessing of the site; Les Nunn, of the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Co. (retired), and Linda Towle, of the Cortez Historic Preservation board, will tell the history of local irrigation; Mike Preston, of the Dolores Water Conservancy District, will tell the modern irrigation story; and James Dietrich, federal lands coordinator for Montezuma County, will discuss the next preservation steps for the 125-year irrigation structure.

The many sponsors of the McElmo Flume Project include: Ballantine Family Fund, Colorado State Historical Fund, Colorado Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Mesa Verde Country, Montezuma County, Montezuma County Historical Society, Southwestern Water Conservation District, Southwest Basin Roundtable, Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway, and the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe.

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

Upper Colorado River Basin month to date precipitation through November 27, 2016 via the Colorado Climate Center.
Upper Colorado River Basin month to date precipitation through November 27, 2016 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.

#Snowpack #Drought news: “…we’ll take moisture at this point, any way we can get it” — Tom Laca

Westwide SNOTEL map November 29, 2016 via the NRCS.
Westwide SNOTEL map November 29, 2016 via the NRCS.


Some farmers unable to plant fall, winter crops

The longer the area’s unusually dry fall weather continues, the more people worry it may continue through winter and into spring.

Tom Laca, a Colorado State University Extension agent for Pueblo County, said few farmers are planting winter wheat this season — a process that normally begins in September.

Laca said except for larger farms with irrigation, it’s too late to plant winter wheat and other late-season crops…

“To get back to where we need to be, we can (do it) several ways,” he said. “One big snowstorm would put us back there, if we got enough in that snowstorm. Can’t say it wouldn’t happen. Several smaller events would also be beneficial, as well. We just need moisture, and we’ll take moisture at this point, any way we can get it.”


Most farmers can handle the situation, Laca said, because they’re resilient and don’t rely solely on one crop.

“But if it’s still this dry in the spring, farmers will face tough decisions about what to plant,” he said.

Meanwhile, Colorado Springs is dealing with several issues related to the fall dry spell.

The Parks and Recreation Department exceeded its watering budget by $220,000 and needed approval from the City Council to find money from other sources.

“We’ll probably need to ask for $75,000 more,” said Kurt Schroeder, parks operations manager.

Schroeder said the warmer, drier fall means increased use of parks, and greater wear and tear on grass.

“We still need to water but we can’t water everything because we’ve already blown out our sprinkler systems,” he said. “If it continues to be dry, we’ll do what we’ve done before — turn the systems back on in the larger parks and athletic fields, and water them as much as we can until we get some moisture.”

Under that strategy, Schroeder said neighborhood parks won’t be watered, which could leave grass in worse condition when spring arrives.

From (Maya Rodriguez):

“Colorado, we’re going through a bit of a shift right now,” said Becky Bolinger, a climatologist with the Colorado Climate Center in Fort Collins.

Every Tuesday, climatologists at the center analyze the state’s soil moisture and snowpack data, which is then used by the U.S. Drought Monitor to put together a map of conditions.

“We were looking at snowpack of about 20 to 25 percent of average,” Bolinger said. “In the past couple weeks, things have started to shift. We started to see a little bit more an accumulation of snow in the high country and that’s really helped to boost those numbers.”

They now range closer to between 40- and 60-percent of what the state would normally see in snowpack at this time, not great numbers, but snow of late is helping.

“The areas that have seen the most improvement are the Southwest Corner and Northwest Corners of the state,” said Colorado Climate Center Climatologist Peter Goble.

So where are things not great? Look east.

“The areas that are struggling the most are east of the Divide,” Goble said.

In the meantime, climatologists say Colorado looks like it’s starting to get back into the swing of snow in the winter. Yet, there is reason for caution.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper):

“This is the slowest start on snowpack that we’ve seen in decades,” said Alan Ward, division manager at the Pueblo Board of Water Works. “The snow monitors we have in the mountains show that there is only 8 percent of the normal amount of snow we typically see in November.”

That said, Ward emphasized the Pueblo utility has enough stored water that, even if the winter stays bone dry, Pueblo residents would probably not face any water restrictions next summer.

“But we’d like to see that snowpack improving,” he said. “A couple of good storms could catch us up to normal.”

There was as little as 2 inches of snow recorded in some mountain areas [November 17, 2016]. And water content was less than that.

“If the winter stays dry, city residents won’t face restrictions but it would affect how much water we lease to farmers,” Ward said.

The dry weather already has had obvious consequences, with two fast-burning wildfires in the mountains west of Pueblo this fall.

And the lack of snow has kept the Monarch Mountain ski resort and other ski areas from their usual November openings.

Monarch staff is advising callers to check on the resort’s website each day for news about when it will open.

The Western U.S. is experiencing weather from a La Nina cooling effect over the Pacific Ocean.

That usually produces warm, dry weather in the Southwest, while Washington, Oregon and the Northwest region may get rain and snow.

Ward said the short-term forecast from the National Weather Service calls for more warm, dry weather; and the three-month forecast also is very uncertain about rain or snow this winter.

“We’ve had that La Nina effect in place for a few years, and we’ve actually done all right in the Pueblo area during winter,” he said.

Colorado Drought Monitor November 22, 2016.
Colorado Drought Monitor November 22, 2016.

#ClimateChange: What Happens When the Ice Disappears? — Pacific Standard #keepitintheground

Here’s a report from Bob Berwyn writing for Pacific Standard Magazine. Click through for the photos. Here’s an excerpt:

The world depends on snow and ice for everything from water to sun-reflection. But thanks to global warming, big parts of the Earth’s cryosphere have already disappeared.

The Rutgers Global Snow Lab tracks hemispheric snow cover extent.
The Rutgers Global Snow Lab tracks hemispheric snow cover extent.

In the age of global warming, one thing is certain: There will be less ice and snow. Glaciers, ice shelves, and sea ice are melting away, and there has been a dramatic drop-off in the number of snow-covered days around the world, as documented by the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab. Since 1967, spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has dwindled by about three million square kilometers.

The loss of Earth’s reflective white surfaces will intensify the spiral of global warming. Darker surfaces absorb more incoming solar radiation. That warmth delays the onset of winter and hastens the arrival of spring. In the Arctic, the decline of the cryosphere is affecting fundamental biological cycles like the reproduction of carbon-storing plankton. And it may also be affecting the jet stream, making weather more extreme across the Northern Hemisphere.

But the realms of ice and snow aren’t confined to the North and South Poles —they also include the world of frozen tundra and boreal forests, as well as snow-covered mountains and highlands, especially the glacial regions of the Andes, Himalaya, Alps, and Rockies. The meltdown in these areas is affecting every ecosystem imaginable.

Water stored in snow and ice represents a crucial global supply for human communities, irrigating rice paddies in Pakistan, cattle pastures in Canada, and verdant fields of mountain hay in the European Alps. Global warming is disrupting the seasonal cycle of those flows nearly everywhere. The changes will require fundamental and costly infrastructure adjustments.

Earth’s icy realms have started melting so fast that even the mainstream media, which hasn’t paid nearly enough attention to global warming, started to heed the issue this past month. In November, even CNN reported on the record-low ice extent at both poles.

But for big parts of the Earth’s cryosphere, it is too late. Even if greenhouse gas emissions were completely stopped today, most of the world’s glaciers would still disappear or dwindle to remnants by the end of this century, just from the CO2 that’s already in the atmosphere, while the polar ice caps will likely keep shrinking for centuries to come.

The cryosphere isn’t just some distant abstract place. If you live outside the planet’s tropics or hot desert belts, it extends, at least seasonally, into your backyard. Snow and ice have cultural, economic, aesthetic, and even spiritual values that will be lost as the world warms. Many communities, regions, and even entire countries identify themselves with snow and ice, from reindeer herders in Lapland to Native American seal hunters and winter sports enthusiasts in the Rocky Mountains. There’s really no way to pin a precise dollar amount to some of those values, but that doesn’t diminish the cost of their loss.