@USBR awards nearly $1 million for water purification and #desalination pilot projects

Photo shows the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility – BGNDRF, in Alamogordo, NM. Credit: Reclamation

Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Marlon Duke):

Goals are to reduce costs, energy requirements, environmental impact for treating unusable water

The Bureau of Reclamation has awarded nearly $1 million for projects under an innovative pilot-scale water treatment technologies and desalination program. The selected projects will receive funding through cooperative agreements and will include a period of pilot testing at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and other sites across the country.

On April 30, 2019, Reclamation announced that it was seeking applicants looking for innovative technologies for reducing the cost, energy requirements and environmental impacts for water purification and desalination technologies. Innovative and promising technologies would be supported to move from the theoretical stage towards a practical application.

“In June, we received 29 eligible applications for review that included $4 million in requests for federal funding. Top applicants were invited to pitch their pilot studies in August,” said Yuliana Porras-Mendoza, advanced water treatment research coordinator. “We awarded grants to seven projects focused on innovative and disruptive water treatment technologies ready for pilot testing to accelerate knowledge transfer and provide new products that serve the water treatment community and attract commercial interest.”

Funded Pilot Studies

Garver, LLC: Innovative electro-coagulation membrane pretreatment with vacuum-assisted electro-distillation concentrate management for cooling tower blowdown recovery
Project goal: improve water quality, reduce chemical consumption, reduce the potable water demand of a water treatment system and eliminate dissolved solids loading to the local sewershed.
State: Colorado

AdEdge Water Technologies: Innovative high recovery flow-reversal RO desalination process for potable reuse providing essential physical barrier with higher recovery rate & reduction in concentrate flow
Project goal: test a flow-reversal reverse osmosis technology with the purpose to introduce this technology to the US market.
State: Georgia

WIST, Inc: The first affordable, easy-to-use silica pretreatment solution: Pilot scale validation of SiSorb-Nano
Project goal: scale up and test a new resin for silica removal from water that is less expensive, more efficient, and environmentally friendly.
State: New York

Eastern Shore Microbes: H.E.A.T A biologically, sustainable solar powered system to eliminate RO concentrate in order to improve the water supply for inland communities
Project goal: test the ability for a selected group of microbes to enhance evaporation of reverse osmosis concentrate, potentially reducing the size of current evaporation ponds and increasing the rate of evaporation.
State: Virginia

University of Arizona: Electrochemically enhanced high efficiency reverse osmosis (EE-HERO) for brackish water treatment
Project goal: test an electrochemically enhanced high efficiency reverse osmosis process for treating brackish groundwater for potable use.
State: Arizona

University of Utah: Disruptive transport/sand filtration pretreatment system for uninterrupted desalination water supply during harmful algal blooms
Project goal: test an innovative system as a last defense during a harmful algal bloom (HAB) before it reaches water treatment systems that are severely impacted and, in some cases, not able to operate during a HAB event.
State: Utah

EcoVAP: Enhanced evaporation using biomimicry for brine concentrate disposal
Project goal: minimize the cost and environmental impact of inland desalination.
State: Utah

The funding provided supports the Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West, including the goal of improving use of technology to increase water reliability and enabling broader scale deployment of desalination and recycled water technologies.

Project descriptions are available at https://www.usbr.gov/research/dwpr.

#Snowpack news: Early SWE percentages look good for most of #Colorado, sorry SW basins

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS.

From The Denver Post (Chris Bianchi):

The highest snowpack levels are in northern Colorado, where some areas are more than three times above where they should be for early November. Most of the snowfall came over the past two weeks, as a series of strong and exceptionally cold storm systems moved through the state, dumping feet of snow across the northern mountains. Because most of October’s snow events arrived from the north, Colorado’s northern mountains — the Park, Medicine Bow and Front Ranges — saw the most overall snowfall.

Because of that, though, some parts of southern Colorado are running a tick behind average snowpack levels, as of Friday’s update.

Of course, all of that snow also has ski resorts reporting record snow levels and opening earlier than usual. It’s also has forced the earliest closure of Independence Pass in nearly a decade.

That said, October statewide precipitation — a measure of the overall moisture — was only 82% of average, based on NRCS data. Because colder air can hold less water than warm air, there is typically a correlation between a colder-than-average month and lower precipitation amounts.

That means the majority of the state officially remains in a drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor’s most recent update. More than 80% of the state is considered to be abnormally dry.

After all of the recent snow, though, no significant snowfall appears to be in the near-term forecast. A generally dry pattern will limit snow chances for most of the state over the next week to 10 days.

From The Denver Post (Chris Bianchi):

Denver finished with an official total of 12.5 inches of snowfall last month, making it the city’s snowiest October at Denver International Airport since 2009. However, at the city’s more centrally-located Stapleton Airport observation site, Denver finished with 15.7 inches of snowfall, making it the snowiest October there since 1997. It was also Stapleton’s second-snowiest October in the last 50 years.

Temperature-wise, Denver finished with an average reading of 43.7 degrees over the full month of October, Denver’s fourth-coldest October on record. It was Denver’s coldest October overall since 2009…

Colorado Springs tied its third-coldest October on record, and Pueblo saw its second-coldest. Those were just one of dozens of record cold temperature readings statewide in October.

Westwide basin-filled snowpack map November 4, 2019 via the NRCS.

Coyote Gulch scores a new bicycle

Coyote Gulch’s new bicycle arrives home November 2, 2019.

Woo hoo! I was able to pick up my new bicycle last Saturday! The expert bicycle builders at Queen City Cycle did a great job meeting my requirements with stylish and functional components.

Some of you know that I started riding a bicycle to cut my carbon footprint back in 2008 reprising my college days in downtown Denver and Missoula when I rode year around. I’ve kept thousands of pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere over the years. I hope you’ll be inspired to visit Queen City Cycle and get out of your planet-killing death machine.

A big thank you to Ethan and Michelle.

Michelle and Ethan — Master bicycle builders at Queen City Cycle.

Now for the first commute to work.

Leaders of youth-water program get bird’s-eye view of #RoaringFork watershed — @AspenJournalism

The blue expanse of Ruedi Reservoir as seen from the air. Students with the Carbondale-based Youth Water Leadership Program took to the air with EcoFlight to see how people have modified water in the Roaring Fork watershed. Photo credit: Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism

From Aspen Journalism (Heather Sackett):

On a recent, clear, cold Saturday morning, local students from Carbondale-based Youth Water Leadership Program packed into a six-seat, single-engine Cessna 210 piloted by Gary Kraft of EcoFlight.

From the cockpit and high above the Roaring Fork watershed, certain features jumped out — the long, straight line of Red Mountain Ditch cutting across the hillside; infrastructure of the Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co. siphoning water to the Front Range; the ponds that feed Aspen Skiing Co.’s snowmaking system; and the glittering surface of Ruedi Reservoir.

One goal of the flight was to give students a firsthand experience of natural resources — in this case, rivers and water. Aspen-based EcoFlight flies policymakers, students and journalists over Western landscapes to highlight man-made impacts to the natural world.

“The best way to teach people about places is to get them in the places,” said Sarah Johnson, watershed-education specialist and founder of the Youth Water Leadership Program.

The plane took off from the Aspen airport, gaining altitude as it flew up Independence Pass to the headwaters of the Roaring Fork, down the Fryingpan River valley, around the white flanks of Mount Sopris and up the Crystal River valley before cruising past the Maroon Bells and Aspen Mountain back to the airport.

This snowmaking pond on the east side of Aspen Mountain as seen from the air with EcoFlight. Students from Carbondale-based Youth Water Leadership Program got a tour of water infrastructure in the Roaring Fork Valley. Photo credit: Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism

How humans modify water

Also evident from the air were the burn scars from 2018’s Lake Christine Fire on Basalt Mountain, as well as the many large homes near Aspen with ponds on the property. For Coal Ridge High School senior and youth-water program leader Aidan Boyd, it was striking to see the patterns of land use in the valley.

“It is really interesting to compare the remote mountains that seem completely untouched to as you get more into the towns it’s just a very different feeling,” he said. “We’ve talked a little bit about how a lot of really wealthy houses will modify water — houses with lakes and pools. It was really interesting to see that.”

From 13,000 feet, it also became apparent just how near to one another are the headwaters of the watershed’s three main tributaries: the Roaring Fork, Fryingpan and Crystal rivers — something that isn’t evident when one travels the region by car. All three begin as trickles in close proximity, high among the 14,000-foot peaks of the Elk and Sawatch ranges.

“I never really realized how close everything is to each other because I’ve always driven up to Aspen and Basalt,” said Isla Brumby-Nelson, an eighth-grader at the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork.

From left, youth water student leaders Aidan Boyd, Isla Brumly-Nelson and water education specialist and program founder Sarah Johnson in EcoFlight’s Cessna 210. Students got a bird’s-eye view of how humans have modified water in the Roaring Fork watershed. Photo credit: Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism

Youth Water Leadership Program

The goal of the Youth Water Leadership Program is not only to increase students’ knowledge of their local watershed and Colorado River issues, but also to create student-driven, call-to-action projects. Students will present these projects — on topics that range from how drought affects small farmers to microplastics and desalination — at the annual Youth Water Leadership Summit in December.

The invitation-only event is sponsored by Pitkin County Healthy Rivers and Streams. Representatives from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Sen. Michael Bennet’s office have already confirmed they will attend.

“The program is about teaching young people how to participate in public life,” Johnson said.

The Saturday field trip culminated with a tour of the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District and Zeigler Reservoir. But the bird’s-eye view of the watershed that students experienced with EcoFlight is the experience that is most likely to stay with them, Johnson said.

“I think that perspective is eye-opening,” she said, “when you start to see all the ditches and diversions, man-made lakes versus natural lakes and how many more water-storage structures there were than we thought. … They are going to have this reference point and bring that into the conversation, and I think that is powerful.”

Editor’s note: Aspen Journalism collaborates with The Aspen Times and other Swift Communications newspapers on coverage of rivers and water. This story ran in the Nov. 2 edition of The Aspen Times.

Map of the Roaring Fork River watershed via the Roaring Fork Conservancy