Colorado Legacy Land taking over at Lincoln Park/Cotter Mill

From The Canon City Daily Record (Sarah Rose):

The Cotter Corp. owned the non-operating uranium mill property south of Cañon City for decades before it was sold Friday to Colorado Legacy Land. The [Ralston Creek near Golden] Schwartzwalder Mine also was sold to the company.

Colorado’s State Radiation Program, which is part of Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment, is an agency that reviewed and approved the Radioactive Materials License transfer.

“… The review evaluated Colorado Legacy Land’s decommissioning funding plan and technical qualifications for site remediation, reclamation and closure, as well as routine site maintenance, radiation safety, and occupational and environmental monitoring,” stated a press release from the CDPHE. “The review determined that Colorado Legacy Land and the proposed key personnel are technically qualified to manage the Cotter mill site closure and the radioactive materials license.”

Colorado Legacy Land is a partnership between Colorado Legacy Land Stewardship and Alexco Environmental Group. Colorado Legacy Land was set up to clean the Lincoln Park Superfund Site and the Schwartzwalder Mine, said Eric Williams, president of Colorado Legacy Land Stewardship.

“Alexco Environmental Group is very good at cleaning up contaminated properties around the country but particularly good with mining companies in Colorado,” Williams said, adding that Alexco helped to clean up the Gold King Mine site, which caused the Animas River to be contaminated with mining waste in 2015. “Colorado Legacy Land is a public benefit corporation. Part of our mission is to clean up contaminated properties, as well as putting those back into some productive use, typically going toward eco-friendly uses, like renewable energy or open space recreation, those kinds of things. The directors of Colorado Legacy Land have close to 100 years of experience in dealing with environmental cleanup sites and putting properties back into productive use.”

Colorado Legacy Land first expressed interest in the Lincoln Park Superfund site about a year ago.

“The process in purchasing it took a long time,” Williams said. “This was a very complex transaction because of the regulatory side of things.”

Williams said Colorado Legacy Land will “start immediately” on the cleanup process.

“We are already very much up to speed with the environmental conditions,” Williams said. “Our focus in the immediate short-term is to work with the Community Advisory Board and the regulators to continue the process of planning and the cleanup of the properties.”

Steve Cohen, who was Cotter’s mill manager for the Lincoln Park site, will continue to be the mill manager under the new management.

Cohen said many employees who worked for Cotter will stay at the mill. Cohen said there were some layoffs at the property but didn’t specify how many.

The CAG invites the public to attend its monthly meeting, where members and representatives of agencies overseeing the cleanup, discuss what’s occurring at the Lincoln Park Superfund site. The next meeting will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Fremont County Administration Building, 615 Macon Ave. Meetings are scheduled every third Thursday of the month.

#Snowpack news: Middle Park snowpack has some catching up to do

From The Sky-Hi News (Lance Maggart):

Statewide Colorado’s snowpack stood at roughly 72 percent of the historic average after snowpack surveys were conducted after the first of the month. Snowfall is down significantly from last year’s figures. As of March 1 Colorado’s snowpack for the year was just 52 percent of the figure recorded on the same date in 2017.

The state got a big boost in February with the entire state seeing above average snowfall over the month’s 28 days, but it appears Mother Nature is getting to work a little too late. According to federal officials February’s deluge “has done little to improve the snowpack outlook for these regions.”

[…]

Across Grand County’s sub-basins snowpack tallies varied slightly but the overall picture remained the same with most of Middle Park currently resting between 80 and 90 percent of average. Grand County’s Willow Creek sub-basin is doing better than most of the watersheds in the north central Rockies with a March 1 snowpack reading at 93 percent of average.

Federal officials noted the streamflow forecast for Willow Creek Reservoir is the highest in the entire Upper Colorado River Basin at 94 percent of average, well above the figures posted in western Colorado’s Roaring Fork sub-basin, which has a recorded inflow figure of just 59 percent of the historic average. On the lower side of things in Grand County is the Williams Fork River sub-basin, which came in at 80 percent of average.

The Upper Colorado sub-basin, focused on northeastern Grand County, provides some of the most reliable snowpack data available for officials with a total of 36 survey sites where snowpack data is tallied. At the start of March the area snowpack came in at 86 percent of average.

One factor that will be of importance to ranchers, farmers and anyone else who relies on downstream river flows throughout the spring and summer are reservoir storage figures. Despite our lackluster winter reservoir storage at the end of February was 120 percent of the historic average and, surprisingly, above the tally for 2017, which came in at 107 percent of average at the same time last year.

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

The South Platte River Basin, encompassing the Front Range, including Weld County and agricultural land from Denver to Nebraska, is in better shape than much of the state when it comes to snowpack, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The department this week released updated snowpack numbers, showing a rebound for the South Platte River Basin, which is now at 87 percent of median. The North Platte River Basin, at 91 percent of median, is in even better shape, and both areas outpace the statewide total of 72 percent of median, which would require quite a feat from Mother Nature to correct.

“Greater than 200 percent of normal snowfall through the end of April would be necessary to overcome current deficits,” Brian Domonkos, Natural Resources Conservation Service Snow Survey supervisor, said in a news release from U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s Brian Werner said the district watches snowpack carefully.

“That’s our water supply; we’ve gotta have it,” Werner said. “It’s 80-percent-plus of our water supply.”

Along with the South Platte, Werner and others look to the Upper Colorado snowpack, which sits at 81 percent of median. He said it’s not awful. Even if it was, Werner said reservoir storage is looking good.

Indeed, in every area measured, reservoir storage is more than 100 percent of normal, with storage in the Arkansas at 142 percent of normal, a potential silver lining for an area with 64 percent median snowpack that suffered 45 percent median snowpack a year ago.

The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan have the lowest snowpack levels, at 53 percent of median, and the lowest reservoir numbers, at 105 percent of median.

“The southwest is not in good shape,” Werner said. “It’s come back a little bit. We’re all in this ballgame together, in some respects. We’d rather see everybody have water. We like it when it snows, it doesn’t matter where.”

Farmington: San Juan Water Commission meeting recap

Lake Nighthorse and Durango March 2016 photo via Greg Hobbs.

From The Farmington Daily Times (Hannah Grover):

San Juan Water Commission members have expressed concerns about recreation on one of the region’s larger reservoirs. Lake Nighthorse near Durango, Colorado, was built as part of the Animas-La Plata Project to store water for various entities in the region.

“The purpose of the reservoir is for us, not for recreation,” said Cy Cooper, who represents the city of Farmington on the commission.

The city of Durango, which recently annexed the reservoir, has said the lake will be open to recreational activities, including paddleboarding and kayaking, on April 1. The lake is scheduled to open to motorized watercraft on May 15, though city officials are still working on a plan for regulating that.

Russ Howard, the general manager for the Animas-La Plata Operation, Maintenance and Replacement Association, assured members of the San Juan Water Commission on Wednesday that recreation will not be prioritized ahead of water quality.

“The primary purpose for this project is a drinking water supply, and recreation comes secondary,” Russ Howard said. “We are not going to let recreation interfere with the main, primary purpose of this project.”

As of Monday, Lake Nighthorse was 97 percent full with nearly 112,000 acre-feet of water in it. The reservoir is expected to be 100 percent full by the end of June following 49 days of pumping water from the Animas River.

If local water users, such as the city of Farmington or the city of Aztec, need more drinking water, they can ask for water from Lake Nighthorse to be released into the Animas River. San Juan County water users could request water from Lake Nighthorse if drought conditions put a strain on water resources.

“People just need to realize that the lake is a dead pool if we destroy the viability of the water,” said Jim Dunlap, who represents rural San Juan County water users on the San Juan Water Commission.

Howard said the baseline data is in place so changes in water quality can be detected. He said monitoring will be in place for bacteria like E. Coli and for petroleum byproducts. If either of those are detected, recreation activities could be stopped or reduced.

An oil and gas separator has been installed at the boat ramp parking lot, Howard said. He said any oil or gas that leaks onto the asphalt will run into the separator.

“Regardless of how many rules and regulations you put in place, you’re still going to have the idiots that will have to be dealt with,” Howard said. “The city (of Durango) has assured us and the public that they will manage the idiot factor, but it’s going to be a full-time job.”

Members of the commission also received packets on Wednesday that included graphs and updates about water resources, including snowpack and stream flow data. The data was from organizations including the U.S. Geological Service and the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center.

According to the U.S. Geological Service stream flow data, the Animas River’s flow in February was 47 and 63 percent of average, depending on the location of the gauge. The flow was below the 2002 levels, a year that turned out to be one of the driest on record. The Durango Herald reported this week that the Animas River in Colorado had reached record-low levels for this time of year.

As of Tuesday, the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center was reporting snowpack that was 53 percent of the median snowpack from 1981 until 2010 in the Animas Basin and 58 percent of median in the San Juan Basin.

Drought conditions in the Four Corners region have worsened since the beginning of the year, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The monitor also shows that drought conditions in the Four Corners region are worse now than they were at the beginning of March 2002.

Prowers County Conservationist of the Year Award was presented to Hixson Farms

From The Prowers Journal (Betty Civis):

The Prowers County Conservation District held their annual meeting Wednesday, March 7th at the Elks Lodge in Lamar.

Conservation Poster winners were announced and the posters were on display. The theme this year was “The Soil is Alive”.

The Prowers County Conservationist of the Year Award was presented to Hixson Farms for their work in controlling land erosion from winds. The award was presented by Steve Shelton and he commented on the fact that all the conservation work that was done by the Hixsons was without government money.

Michael Weber, Staff Engineer, for Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, briefly talked about Fountain Creek and solutions for controlling flooding and the impact on the Arkansas River. He also explained the different accounts that have water stored in John Martin Dam and an additional account that is for future expansion. His third topic involved possible improvements to Adobe Creek including increased water retention.

Water quality in the Arkansas River Basin from John Martin to the State Line was covered in a presentation by Blake Osborn, Water Resource Specialist from Colorado State University. The higher than average levels of Selenium, Uranium, Sulfates, Arsenic and Salt in the Arkansas River Basin are causing concern. Some of the concentration in the water occurs naturally from the underlying rock and soil and some is from the run-off of irrigation and rain water. Blake Osborn, Water Resource Specialist from Colorado State University is preparing a study and ideas to alleviate some of the problem.

Small reservoirs offer big benefits down the road – News on TAP

A rare look at the filling of two new reservoirs on the plains and how they’ll help stretch our mountain water supplies.

Source: Small reservoirs offer big benefits down the road – News on TAP

Born to be wild – News on TAP

Enjoy Colorado’s great outdoors and wildlife by exploring Denver Water’s nine recreational sites.

Source: Born to be wild – News on TAP

St. Paddy’s feast? You’ll need more than a pot of gold – News on TAP

Hundreds of gallons of water go into growing and producing your favorite Irish staples, like corned beef and cabbage.

Source: St. Paddy’s feast? You’ll need more than a pot of gold – News on TAP