#NM Environment Dept. & #GoldKingMine Citizens’ Group Meets September 25, 2017

The orange plume flows through the Animas across the Colorado/New Mexico state line the afternoon of Aug. 7, 2015. (Photo by Melissa May, San Juan Soil and Conservation District)

From email from the New Mexico Environment Department:

The New Mexico Gold King Mine Spill Citizens’ Advisory Committee, based out of San Juan County, New Mexico, meets Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the San Juan Community College Student Center – SUNS Room (accessible through the Henderson Fine Arts Building).

Shannon Manfredi, Coordinator, Animas River Community Forum (ARCF) in Durango will discuss the role of the ARCF and related organizations, membership composition, and issues.

The Citizens’ Advisory Committee is a group of 11 citizen volunteers from Northern New Mexica, including the Navajo Nation, who provide a forum for public concerns while tracking the scientific long-term monitoring of the Gold King Mine spill’s effects in the state. The CAC works with New Mexico’s Long-Term Impact Review Team established by Governor Susana Martinez to both monitor and discuss with the public the continuing effects of the 2015 mine blowout, caused by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that released three million gallons of mining wastewater laden with 880,000 pounds of metals into the Animas and San Juan River system.

For more information please visit the New Mexico Environment Department’s Gold King Mine website at https://www.env.nm.gov/river-water-safety/ or send an email to: NMENV-Outreach@state.nm.us

Study: Aurora and Castle Rock pony up $50,000 each to study the potential of designated groundwater basin storage

Colorado designated groundwater basins.

From The Aurora Sentinel (Kara Mason):

Essentially, the facility would operate like an underground reservoir, and the city says it has its benefits. Permitting an underground storage facility isn’t as expensive as an above ground reservoir and capital costs are lower, according to city water officials. There are also fewer environmental impacts, and because the storage is underground the water supply doesn’t evaporate like it would aboveground.

The big challenge of underground facilities, such as the one Aurora and Castle Rock are looking into, called the Lost Creek Underground Storage Pilot Project, is engineering, said State Engineer Kevin Rein.

In the case of Lost Creek, there is already groundwater in the area. It’s in an “almost transient state,” Rein said. That means the water would eventually make its way to a river. Keeping stored water from also escaping to a river requires careful planning.

“It takes a lot of engineering and calculation,” Rein said.

But the project is completely doable, officials said. There is one underground storage facility that benefits the metro area, Centennial Water uses a system similar to what Aurora and Castle Rock are considering. That project serves Highland Ranch. For Denver, the city recharges aquifers. Rein said the rules that apply to those sites may look similar to the rules his agency is being charged with writing for underground storage facilities.

Aurora has ventured into similar storage projects before, but those facilities are used less for storage and more as a natural filter. The three underground facilities Aurora currently operates are part of the Prairie Waters project. Each is around 50-feet deep and as large as a football field.

Aurora City Council has approved an agreement to pay $50,000 to partially fund the Lost Creek Underground Storage Pilot Project, located northeast of the city in the Lost Creek basin. Castle Rock will pay $50,000 for the study too — which will survey the area, drilling bore holes to reaffirm the area is suitable for an underground storage facility.

The first phase of the Lost Creek project will look at data gathering. If all is successful in establishing a location for the facility, phase II will encompass feasibility, according to Alex Davis, Deputy Director for Water Resources in Aurora.

The feasibility side of project would address how obtainable the land is, what other data might be needed and who to collaborate on the project with.

This year the Colorado Legislature granted $200,000 for underground storage pilot studies. The joint effort between Aurora and Castle Rock is expected to cost $150,000, with the Colorado Water Conservation Board picking up a portion of the tab.

The pilot project’s first phase is expected to start this fall and take no longer than one year to complete. Aurora is working alongside Castle Rock, as the two have partnered on other water projects. Davis said the two have proven to be successful partners on water issues in the past, making this venture a no-brainer.

The 2016 State Water Plan identified 400,000 acre feet of water that needs storage by 2050. So it’s possible that underground storage facilities may become even more popular, Rein said.

Is the #ColoradoRiver a person? — The #Colorado Springs Independent #COriver

Homestake Dam via Aspen Journalism

From The Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

The Colorado River, which originates in Colorado, provides water to seven states and Mexico, and it should have rights of its own, according to a soon-to-be-filed federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks status for the river as a person.

Colorado Springs has a huge stake in the Colorado River, as its Homestake Reservoir is located in the Colorado River Basin and supplies a significant amount of water to the city.

Here’s the release from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) (Mari Margil):

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is serving as a legal adviser for the first-in-the-nation lawsuit in which a river is seeking recognition of its legal rights.

To be filed next week in federal district court in Colorado, the lawsuit Colorado River v. State of Colorado seeks a ruling that the Colorado River, and its ecosystem, possess certain rights, including the right to exist, flourish, evolve, regenerate, and restoration.

Further, the lawsuit seeks a declaration from the federal court that the State of Colorado – the defendant in the case – may be held liable for violating the rights of the River.

The Plaintiff in the action is the Colorado River itself, with members of the environmental organization Deep Green Resistance serving as “next friends” in the lawsuit on behalf of the Colorado River ecosystem. They are represented by Jason Flores-Williams, a noted Colorado civil rights attorney.

CELDF has been at the forefront of the growing movement to recognize the rights of nature, and has assisted the first places in the world to develop laws that establish legal rights of nature. This includes dozens of municipalities across the United States which have rights of nature laws in place, as well as the country of Ecuador.

Mari Margil, Director of CELDF’s International Center for the Rights of Nature, explained, “This action is the first of its kind in the United States, and comes as courts around the world are beginning to hold that nature and ecosystems possess legally enforceable rights. Recently, courts in India and Colombia held that rivers, glaciers, and other ecosystems possess rights of their own. Building on ongoing lawmaking efforts, we believe that this lawsuit will be the first of many which begins to change the status of nature under our legal systems.”

In 2008, CELDF assisted with the drafting of Chapter 7 of the Ecuador Constitution, which secures rights of nature, or Pacha Mama. CELDF is working in a number of other countries, including India, Nepal, and Australia, to advance legal frameworks that recognize legally enforceable rights of ecosystems and nature.

This fall, CELDF, with Tulane University Law School, will host the Rights of Nature Symposium. This will bring together rights of nature experts from around the world for a public conference in New Orleans on October 27.

About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature. http://www.celdf.org/.

The ‘Restoration Economy’ #ActOnClimate

Graphic via SustainableWater.com.

From Ecosystem Marketplace (Steve Zwick):

The restoration economy evolved slowly over the past 40 years as states from New York to Colorado to California realized it was often more efficient to restore natural systems that protect coasts and manage water than it was to build substitutes from concrete and steel. The city of New York, for example, has long saved money on water filtration costs by paying farmers in the Catskills to restore natural grasses that absorb farm runoff, while the city of Denver is funneling water utility fees into forests that store and filter water, and California uses meadows and streams to filter and store the water that feeds into its famous aqueducts.

Closer to hurricane territory, the state of Texas is home to one of the country’s largest for-profit restoration projects, while studies have shown that Louisiana can earn billions by restoring its coastal mangroves – or lose multiples of that by letting them die.

Yale #Climate Opinion Maps – U.S. 2016 #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

From the Yale Program on Climate Communication (Jennifer Marlon, Peter Howe, Matto Mildenberger and Anthony Leiserowitz):

This version of the Yale Climate Opinion Maps is based on data through the year 2016. Public opinion about global warming is an important influence on decision making about policies to reduce global warming or prepare for the impacts, but American opinions vary widely depending on where people live. So why would we rely on just one national number to understand public responses to climate change at the state and local levels? Public opinion polling is generally done at the national level, because local level polling is very costly and time intensive. Our team of scientists, however, has developed a geographic and statistical model to downscale national public opinion results to the state, congressional district, and county levels. We can now estimate public opinion across the country and a rich picture of the diversity of Americans’ beliefs, attitudes, and policy support is revealed. For instance, nationally, 70% of Americans think global warming is happening. But the model shows that only 49% of people in Emery County, Utah agree. Meanwhile 72% in neighboring Grand County, Utah believe global warming is happening. Explore the maps by clicking on your state, congressional district, or county and compare the results across questions and with other geographic areas. Beneath each map are bar charts displaying the results for every question at whichever geographic scale is currently selected. See the methods page for more information about error estimates. This research and website are funded by the Skoll Global Threats Fund, the Energy Foundation, the 11th Hour Project, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the MacArthur Foundation, the Overlook Foundation and the Endeavor Foundation. We are very grateful to Connie Roser-Renouf, Ed Maibach, Lisa Fernandez, Eric Fine, Bessie Schwarz, Mike Slattery, and Seth Rosenthal for their assistance with and support of the project. For further questions about these maps or what they mean, please see our Frequently Asked Questions tab (above).

Minute 323

Your Water Colorado Blog

Blue_Mesa_Reservoir Minute 323 provides a long-term plan for management of the Colorado River. Photo courtesy of Sascha Brück

Water has been a source of conflict for more than 200 years in the West. The Colorado River delta had not seen water for about 20 years until the Pulse Flow, a release of 105,392 acre-feet of water from the Morelos Dam, boosted the Colorado River, allowing it to flow to Mexico’s Gulf of California and reach the ocean in March 2014. The Pulse Flow was released under Minute 319 of the 1944 treaty with Mexico.

Minute 319 provides a water basin management approach focused on the sustainable use of the Colorado River, but it will expire on Dec. 31, 2017. Not to worry, Minute 323, set to be signed on September 26 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a continuation of this water basin management approach and provides a sustainable long term plan…

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