The latest “The Current” newsletter is hot off the presses from the Eagle River Watershed Council

Photo credit Eagle River Watershed Council.

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

23rd Annual Eagle River Cleanup

About 300 people participated in this year’s Eagle River Cleanup, which was the 23rd annual. A large youth turnout at this year’s event helped forward one of the goals of the watershed council — to leave a conservation legacy for generations to come.

“It’s a start of environmentalism,” watershed council executive director Holly Loff said Saturday. “It connects the community; everyone has worked hard to do something that does make a difference.”

Loff said they expect to see about 4,000 pounds of trash collected from local waterways as a result of Saturday’s efforts.

While the trash itself isn’t often as detrimental to the river as the pollution you can’t see, a clean riverbank says a lot about a community, said Eagle County Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney.

“It takes away from the experience when you see trash as you’re rafting past, or when you’re trying to fish,” McQueeney said.

R.I.P. Tom Petty: “I was born a rebel”

By Davidwbaker (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
From The New York Times (Jon Pareles):

Tom Petty, a songwriter who melded California rock with a deep, stubborn Southern heritage, died on Monday after suffering cardiac arrest. He was 66 and had lived in Los Angeles…

Mr. Petty’s songs were staples of FM rock radio through decades, and with hits like “Refugee,” “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Free Fallin’” and “Into the Great Wide Open,” Mr. Petty sold millions of albums and headlined arenas and festivals well into 2017. He played the Super Bowl halftime show in 2008 and entered the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. But his songs stayed down-to-earth, with sturdy guitar riffs carrying lyrics that spoke for underdogs and ornery outcasts. In his 1989 hit, “I Won’t Back Down,” he sang, “You can stand me up at the gates of hell / But I won’t back down.”

Mr. Petty’s songwriting was shaped by the music he heard growing up: the ringing folk-rock guitars of the Byrds, the crunch of the Rolling Stones, the caustic insights of Bob Dylan, the melodic turns of the Beatles, the steadfast backbeat of Southern soul and the twang of country-rock. Onstage, the Heartbreakers sometimes expanded songs toward psychedelia-tinged jams.

But across styles, Mr. Petty kept his songwriting tight-lipped, succinct and evocative: “She was an American girl, raised on promises,” he sang on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 1976 debut album. “She couldn’t help thinkin’ / That there was a little more to life somewhere else.”

Overheard Tuesday at a bicycle shop, “Tom Petty saved us from disco!”

Colorado Corn (@COgrown) research into more sustainable agriculture

Photo credit Wikimedia.

From Colorado Corn:

One of the top priorities of the Colorado Corn Administrative Committee (CCAC) has long been assisting local farmers in their quest to produce more food, feed, fuel and fiber with less resources and through more economically and agronomically sustainable production methods.

And that tradition continued in 2017, as the CCAC’s Research Action Team in January committed another $130,100 to various projects focusing on drought-tolerance, crop disease mitigation, hybrid development, crop residue management, and other aspects of sustainability in agriculture.

These investments come in addition to the $650,000-plus that the CCAC invested in research endeavors from 2011-2016.

For decades, the CCAC has provided dollars – as well as input and other resources – to a long list of projects that have evaluated irrigation practices, alternative water-transfer methods, seed varieties, root structure, meat quality, farm safety, environmental impacts, biofuels and rotational fallowing, among a number of other focuses.

Along the way, the CCAC has teamed up with municipalities, businesses, universities, research facilities, the state of Colorado and many others – relationships the organization will continue building upon in the never-ending effort to bring more tools and knowledge to Colorado’s producers.

The funds for these research projects comes from a one-penny-per-bushel assessment on corn grown in Colorado, with the farmers who serve as CCAC board members ultimately deciding where those dollars are invested.

“The Colorado Corn Administrative Committee invests and leverages its dollars and resources toward endeavors that run the gamut of market development, outreach, education and regulatory affairs. But our research projects rank among the most important investments, if not the most critical,” said CCAC President Mike Lefever, a Longmont-area resident who farms ground near Haxtun. “Taking continuous steps forward in producing more with less resources – and discovering the most sustainable methods of doing so – is absolutely vital, not only for us farmers, but for everyone. And with the knowledge gained from these research projects, we continue taking the needed steps forward.”

Following meetings and presentations in recent weeks, the CCAC’s Research Action Team agreed to fund the following projects:

• $48,249 to Colorado State University’s John McKay, to fund various local efforts needed for involving Colorado in a national collaborative project, aimed at identifying the specific genes that cause elite hybrids to be sensitive to drought.

• $43,663 to CSU’s Kirk Broders, to further examine the bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas vasicola pv vasculorum (Xvv) – officialy reported in the U.S. in 2016 (although it had likely been present before that), with some of the most severe disease pressure observed in Colorado. The information gained from the research will be used to develop mitigation strategies and outreach and education materials.

• $30,000 to CSU’s Todd Gaines, to lead research on the glyphosate-resistant weed Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri), with specific goals aimed at addressing environmental and economic sustainability for growers, providing practical value for weed management, and addressing management issues related to biotechnology.

• $8,188 to CSU Extension’s Joel Schneekloth, to quantify the effects of residue removal and/or tillage on winter soil moisture recharge in irrigated agriculture, as well as the impacts to irrigation requirements for the following growing season and other aspects of these corn-production methods.

***

The projects listed above come in addition to the Colorado Corn Administrative Committee’s investments in other ongoing or recently concluded research projects, which are :

• $141,282 ($47,094 per year, over three years) to Colorado State University’s Raj Khosla, Robin Reich and Louis Longchamps, to research and determine the most productive, efficient, profitable and sustainable practices in irrigated corn production. In particular, this project will examine the agronomic advantages of using variable-rate and precision irrigation methods, precision-nitrogen management, and variable-seeding rates.

• $45,747 over three years to Colorado State University to evaluate precision water and nutrient management practices.

• $31,580 to Kirk Broders at Colorado State University, to complete a comprehensive survey of bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens of corn grown in Colorado, including foliar, ear, stalk and root pathogens. This information will later be used to direct future pathological studies of corn at CSU. Read more here.

• $30,425 to Colorado State University’s Troy Bauder and Erik Wardle, for their “BMP Research and Demonstration” project, which over two years will monitor the effects of improved nutrient management methods commonly practiced by corn growers, to better understand the agronomic and water quality benefits from these practices. This is expected to be useful in a triennial review for the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, helping quantify the good work producers are already doing in this area. Read more here.

• $26,700 to Erick Carlson at CSU, to develop additional methods for reducing deep percolation of nitrates into groundwater, through investigating the functioning of wetlands created by irrigation runoff to trap and process nitrates. Read for here.

• $26,520 to CSU for evaluation of drought-tolerant corn varieties in dryland conditions.

• $25,000 to CSU’s Phil Westra and Scott Nissen, for various objectives at the Center for Ecology, Evolution & Management of Pesticide Resistance.

• $24,850 to Godsey Precision AG LLC, to look in-depth at water savings with variable-rate irrigation for farmers using water from the Ogallala Aquifer. Specifically it will examine the water-holding capacity of the top two feet of soil and the crop’s water use throughout the season, and also determine the differences in fields with 39,600, 36,000 and 32,000 plants per acre, and how many soil probes are needed in-season to accurately monitor soil moisture.

• $21,240 to Jerry Johnson and Sally Sauer with Colorado State University, to continue testing yield performance of four drought tolerant corn hybrids compared to four traditional, non-drought tolerant hybrids, at three different plant densities, under dryland production conditions in northeast Colorado.

• $17,287 to Louis Comas with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, to continue overseeing development of a tool for monitoring and managing water stress in corn.

• $15,604 to Louise Comas with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, to create a tool to help corn producers identify when their crop is going into stress, help estimate potential yield impacts of that stress, and help producers in assessing potential impacts from constraints in their water supplies.

• $11,900 to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service for a 2016 water stress monitoring project.

• $3,866 to Joel Schneekloth with the Colorado Water Institute, to study the impact of residue removal and tillage upon the soil characteristics important to crop production and crop-production economics.

Study: Aspen looks at Woody Creek storage

A map provided by the city of Aspen showing the two parcels in Woody Creek it has under contract. The city is investigating the possibility of building a reservoir on the site, as well as looking at the possibility of a reservoir in the neighboring Elam gravel pit.

From The Aspen Daily News (Curtis Wackerle):

A preliminary feasibility study of water storage options using a Woody Creek parcel the city of Aspen is under contract to purchase contemplates first building a smaller reservoir at what’s now an adjacent gravel pit, followed by a phased expansion onto the land the city plans to acquire.

That is one of four scenarios subject to a geologic review and engineering analysis conducted this summer for the city by Deere and Ault Consultants. The options studied range in cost from an estimated $48 million to $81 million and could store between 320 and 8,000 acre-feet of water.

Aspen voters in November will decide whether to approve $3 million worth of general obligation bonds to finance the city’s purchase of the site, located on a bench above Upper River Road and owned currently by an entity called the Woody Creek Development Co., registered to a Fort Collins address.

The city in July announced it is under contract to purchase the main 56-acre parcel, located west of the Elam gravel pit, and a 1.9-acre plot closer to Upper River Road, for $2.65 million.

If voters reject the bonding question, a memo from the municipal utilities apartment recommends the city go forward with the purchase anyway, using another financing option…

The city is eyeing the land purchase as part of a potential solution to the vexing question of what to do about extensive water storage rights it has held for over 50 years on the upper reaches of Castle and Maroon creeks. The city’s application to extend those conditional water rights is pending in water court and is opposed by a host of other government agencies, environmental groups and private citizens. Settlement talks in the case are ongoing.

“These rights are located in alpine valleys and their development would involve difficult and expensive construction and likely cause significant environmental impacts,” says a memo from Margaret Medellin, the utilities portfolio manager, to city council in advance of a Tuesday work session on the topic. The memo asserts that “[the location] of the site allows for the legal movement of storage rights from Maroon and Castle creeks to a diversion point near the Woody Creek parcel.”

The Maroon and Castle reservoirs, which would involve dams over 100 feet tall in areas renowned for their scenic qualities, would create around 14,000 total acre-feet of water storage.

Some opposers in the water court case have questioned whether the city needs any water storage; it currently has none besides a small holding pond above the treatment plan, with all required water drawn directly from the creeks. City officials, on the other hand, say that if climate significantly alters snowpack patterns, storage could be needed in the future to keep up with demand. Exactly how much storage would be optimal is being studied by another city-hired consultant.

Deere and Ault contractors drilled four test borings and dug five test pits at the Woody Creek site; the work went forward without a permit, but after the fact and following up on a citizen complaint, Pitkin County, which has jurisdiction on the site, required the contractor to get a retroactive permit and file a revegetation plan.

City of Florence revenue shortfall due to prison water #conservation

From The Canon City Daily Record (Sarah Matott):

During the last five years, the City of Florence has been steadily losing water revenue because of the Federal Bureau of Prisons cutting their usage.

The federal prison systems in Florence are one of the largest water customers for Florence.

In March, the council raised water rates against the federal prisons to address the problem, but Patterson said the federal prison systems are fighting the city on the new rates.

Patterson explained that in 2008 the federal government ordered that all federal agencies work to eliminate their carbon footprint.

The federal prisons system began cutting back on its water usage — a cost-saving measure for the prison but a problematic measure for Florence.

Patterson said the city has been losing about a half a million in revenue during the last few years, which has made it difficult to balance the budget…

One of the options, Patterson said is raising taxes or the water rates.

“The dilemma is we already have some of the highest rates in the state of Colorado,” Patterson said, adding the city does not want to raise rates on residents anymore.

The second option for the city would be to cut back on water projects, such as updating the water lines.

The last option for Florence would be to aggressively expand who they sell water to. He said the city already has been using this option some by trying to “aggressively” add water users and starts…

Patterson said they would continue to negotiate with federal prisons, so they can pay a reasonable rate. However, he did also say, if they continue to fight the new rates, a lawsuit in the future could be something else the city would pursue to avoid higher rates.

Chatfield Reservoir: The best dam flood solution, period – News on TAP

The South Platte River flood of 1965 led to the construction of Littleton’s popular water recreation destination.

Source: Chatfield Reservoir: The best dam flood solution, period – News on TAP

Connecting with the community, one service line at a time – News on TAP

Denver Water’s master plumber provides expertise, education and relief to customers for nearly 40 years.

Source: Connecting with the community, one service line at a time – News on TAP