Brad Evans’s Mission to Turn #SouthPlatteRiver From a Sewer Into a Gem — Westword

From Westword (Michael Roberts:

Brad Evans loves to stir up shit. The founder of the Denver Cruisers Ride and a 2018 candidate for the RTD board is also the prime mover for Denver FUGLY, which draws attention to the most unsightly new development in the city. And he was among the driving forces behind Ditch the Ditch, a group that unsuccessfully sued to stop the Central 70 project.

Now, Evans has another title to add to his collection: South Platte River Waterkeeper. Under the auspices of Waterkeeper Alliance, an international organization that bills itself “the largest and fastest growing nonprofit solely focused on clean water,” he will work toward protecting and restoring a waterway that he sees as in desperate need of attention and care. The South Platte is one of Denver’s primary water sources, but a Waterkeeper Alliance release argues that it’s been tainted by “rampant development, unmonitored dumping from chemical and production plants, and hundreds of stormwater drains.”

“It’s been a sewer rather than a jewel,” Evans says. “So how do you shift from it being a sewer to treating it like a gem? That’s what we’re going to find out. But right now, we’re still in the sewer phase.”

Sounds like the perfect gig for a shit-stirrer — although he’s much more interested in reducing the river’s waste and pollution than simply swirling it around, as evidenced by a new online fundraising endeavor being launched in conjunction with Colorado Gives Day today, December 10.

According to Waterkeeper Alliance U.S. organizing manager Bart Mihailovich, “we’re a global support network of 350 waterkeepers and waterkeeper affiliates around the world. We serve to support autonomous, local grassroots work with services, so they can do the important work they do to fight for drinkable, fishable and swimmable waters around the world.”

“Science be Dammed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the #ColoradoRiver” — @R_EricKuhn/@jfleck

I finished Eric Kuhn and John Fleck’s new book in the hotel last night on my way to Las Vegas for the Colorado River Water Users Association Annual Conference.

It’s a page-turner that charts the history of the “Law of the River” and how politics and enthusiastic engineers that loved the big projects mostly trumped science in the debate and decisions since the Colorado River Compact negotiations. That trumping set the stage for we users of the Colorado River going forward. The book has praise for current decision makers and the deliberate effort to listen to the scientists regarding the hydrology of the river and the acidification in the basin due to the climate crisis.

Click here to order your copy of “Science be Dammed”.

Brad Udall: “…latest version of my 4-Panel plot thru Water Year (Oct-Sep) of 2019 of the #coriver big reservoirs, natural flows, precipitation, and temperature. Data goes back or 1906 (or 1935 for reservoirs.) This updates previous work with
@GreatLakesPeck

The Big Breakdown of #coal, illustrated by one chart — RiverOfLostSouls.com (Jonathan Thompson, @jonnypeace)

The great coal/electricity decoupling, illustrated. Graph by Jonathan P. Thompson, data from the Energy Information Administration.

From RiverOfLostSouls.com (Jonathan Thompson):

After World War II, the federal government, utilities, and developers embarked on a project to build dams, mines, power plants, and high-transmission lines across the Interior West in order to electrify and deliver water to the cities that were sprawling across the desert. The intent of what scholar and law professor Charles Wilkinson called “The Big Buildup” was both to meet the demand created by the huge post-War migration, and to create new demand — to lure more people, and therefore more money, to the Southwest. The likes of Phoenix and Las Vegas as we know them today were made possible by the Big Buildup, and the Big Buildup, in turn, was enabled by theft of land, cheating tribal nations out of royalties, government subsidies, and lax regulations.

For five decades this coal-fired machine churned away, pumping electricity into the cities, cash into state and tribal coffers, and pollution into the water, land, and air. Those of us born during or after 1970 would never know a Four Corners Country without economies that relied on coal, or without the yellow-gray gauze that obscures every vista. The machine seemed invincible, stable, recession proof, and immune to boom and bust cycles. The growing populations of the West would continue to demand more and more electricity, meaning the plants would burn more and more coal.

In 2008, recession washed over the nation like a wave, putting a damper on demand for electricity — and thus coal. There was nothing surprising about that. But what happened next was astounding: As the economy recovered, and demand for power stopped dropping, coal consumption kept plummeting. For the first time in sixty years, for a variety of reasons, the fortunes of coal and electricity had been decoupled.

Now the machine assembled by the Big Buildup is breaking down in dramatic fashion, with coal plants retiring left and right, and those that remain burning less and less coal.

This is not merely another downward swing in the extractive industries’ boom-bust cycle. It’s the death of an entire economic sector, a paradigm shift, if you will. Its effects will be every bit as profound as the Big Buildup’s. Call it the Big Breakdown. I’ll be covering the phenomenon here and elsewhere over the coming months and years — this is not a fast death.

But for now I’ll just leave you the chart above, which so clearly illustrates the great decoupling and the underlying cause of the Big Breakdown.