Evening Visits — Greg Hobbs

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Evening Visits

Lord, help us understand
what we cannot know for sure,
every day’s a gift,

Every evening an opportunity,
to practice grace and thankfulness,
to place our faith in community,

For all we have, for all the nows
and now, is the chance
of being, day and evening,

Together and alone,
to walk the shore and mountain path,
to lift our voices,

Work for peace,
honor hope,
love greatly.

Greg Hobbs (written 9/11/2001)
(Colorado Foundation for Water Education, Colorado Mother of Rivers, Water Poems at 75)

@WaterLawReview: Diving into the legal issues behind giving standing to water bodies, both here in the U.S. and abroad

Ganges River watershed via Wikipedia.

Click here to go to Water Law Review website to read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt (Michael Larrack):

Rights of Water Sources in the U.S.

The idea of granting legal rights to inanimate objects, specifically natural resources, is not alien to the United States. There are advantages to granting a water source specific rights, discussed at length by Cristopher Stone, Professor of Law at the University of Southern California, in a 1972 journal article. Stone argued giving an entity like a river judicial standing, or a right to sue for a perceived harm, would allow for greater justice for ecological harms. For example, if a polluter dumps in a river, the only current avenue for recovery is for those non-river entities harmed by the pollution to sue. If pollution doesn’t significantly bother a downstream user, or that user is a polluter itself, that individual may not ever bring a suit and the harm would go unchecked. A river could sue for the entirety of harms suffered.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Douglas agreed with Stone, in a dissenting opinion also authored in 1972, Sierra Club v. Morton. His dissent cited public concern for nature and ecology, and called for those with a meaningful relation to water to be able to speak for it. He used the analogy of ships and corporations, both of which have legal personality that grants them rights in litigation. While stirring, this view has failed to gain traction in the following decades.

A likely cause for this is that it could be politically unpopular. The Blaze, a conservative U.S. news source, pushed back against the New Zealand law. Ironically, it attacks the law for one of the same reasons Stone argued natural resources should have standing. The Blaze article is concerned with giving rights to non-living entities, when New Zealand does not recognize rights for unborn children because it does not ban abortion. As Stone himself recognized, there is difficulty in getting Americans to accept an inanimate object has standing. As an example, he cites the backlash from corporate personhood, a debate that still goes on. And at a more technical level, water as a commercial commodity with multitudes of competing interests and disagreement over what constitutes “public interest” and “beneficial use” in the American West’s established prior appropriation system complicates matters.

A framework for assessing ecosystem services in acequia irrigation communities of the Upper Río Grande watershed

An acequia along the Las Trampas in northern New Mexico is suspended on a trestle. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Here’s a paper that suggests an analysis of acequia flood irrigation and the environment that exists now is needed prior to a move to drips, from N. Raheem, et al. that’s posted on the Taos Acequia Association Website:

‘What we need to do is inventory the different types of agricultural landscapes and bring to light the typical rural architecture, such as the acequias and desagües (irrigation supply canals and excess water drains). We need to find ways of conserving the landscape, including the flora and fauna as well as the role the agricultural landscape has played in the evolution of the surrounding area. Before we abandon the past (flood irrigation) for the contemporary (drip irrigation), we need a thorough analysis of the pros and cons of each system for the whole cultural landscape. The future may be one where the old and new learn to coexist, such as the hoe with the plow’ (Arellano, 2014, p. 204). © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

@ColoradoClimate: Weekly Climate, Water and #Drought Assessment of the Intermountain West

Upper Colorado River Basin September 2017 precipitation through September 12, 2017.

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

COGCC fines Encana for spill near Parachute

Parachute/Battlement Mesa area via the Town of Parachute.

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission imposed the penalty for a leak discovered in June 2016 on the 320-acre Bishop Ranch. It is part of a consent agreement that clears Encana and Hunter Ridge from further state penalties for degrading water quality.

Encana spokesman Doug Hock on Monday couldn’t say how much liquid leaked but stated company crews “eliminated the source of the release within hours of discovery” and that “the impacts have been contained.”

COGCC officials did not respond to queries about whether the leak has been stopped or continues to threaten health and safety.

The hydrocarbons degraded a ranch where land managers count on pristine conditions to sustain deer and elk, essential for Colorado’s increasingly lucrative business of recreation.

Bishop Ranch operators filed a civil lawsuit July 18 against Encana in Rio Blanco County claiming the pipeline leaked huge amounts of hydrocarbons that continue to contaminate springs, streams, underground water, vegetation and soil. The lawsuit alleges the environmental damage ruined a planned $5 million sale of the ranch.

The court case hasn’t been resolved. Encana has sold off its Colorado oil and gas assets. Denver-based Caerus Oil and Gas took over wells in northwestern Colorado in June.

Bishop Ranch owner Mike Bishop on Monday scoffed at the COGCC penalty, calling it pathetic and highly unlikely to deter future violations of state environmental rules…

Bishop Ranch attorneys acknowledged an effort by Encana to contain and filter contaminated water and move it into a cattle pond on contaminated land nearby that the company purchased.

“It has been 58 weeks since the spill was discovered. Encana continues to recover condensate from the contaminated springs at a rate of about 2 barrels (84 gallons) every day,” attorney Mark Mason said. “This environmental nightmare does not end with the payment of a nominal fine by a company that has now essentially left the state. Mr. Bishop … will not let them quietly sweep this one under the rug.”

Last year, COGCC officials notified Encana subsidiary Hunter Ridge that they were considering penalties for a failure to manage waste in northwestern Colorado in a way that protects water, among other violations.

A state document provided to the Denver Post Monday says that as of Aug. 1, Hunter Ridge had spent $2.7 million and recovered 1,195 barrels, or 50,190 gallons, of condensate from the release that contaminated Bishop Ranch and is continuing “to pursue the necessary remediation work.”

State documents didn’t include any estimate of how much liquid leaked from Hunter Ridge’s underground pipeline.