#Denver is a Top 10 Bike-Friendly City

From DenverGov.org:

Denver is movin’ on up in the rankings for two-wheels! People for Bikes recently released its third annual ratings of the best cities for bicycling in the U.S.

Out of 567 cities, (drum roll please) Denver ranked 8th! The Mile High City has shown steady improvement since People for Bikes began its City Ratings program in 2018. Take a look…

2018 Rank 27th out of 480 cities

2019 Rank 18th out of 511 cities

2020 Rank 8th out of 567 cities

Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) is delivering a rapid buildout of 125 miles of bike lanes by 2023, making biking a safer and more comfortable commuting option. Denver’s three-pronged approach includes:

  • Coordinating the striping of bike lanes with street paving operations.
  • Installing high comfort bike facilities around the city that will serve as the backbones for future, large area bike network buildouts.
  • A significant buildout of the bike network in the city’s core where population densities are higher to significantly increase the number of Denver households within ¼ mile of a high comfort bikeway (a primary goal of the Denver Moves: Bikes Plan).
  • Of the 125 miles of bike lanes to be installed by 2023, the majority will be considered high comfort facilities that provide greater separation between people in cars and on bikes, traffic calming measures to slow vehicle speeds along residential roads, and greater connectivity to the places people want to bike.

    What are high comfort bikeways? They provide:

  • Dedicated space on the street for people who drive cars and ride bikes
  • Street designs that lower the stress of riding and reduce potential conflicts between bikes and cars
  • A convenient and more viable way for people to get around safely
  • Better connections to the places people want to go, such as schools, parks, trails and transit.
  • People for Bikes’ city ratings are scored across five key indicators: Ridership (how many people are riding bikes), Safety (how safe is it to ride bikes), Network (how easy is it for people to bike where they want to go), Reach (how well the network serves all parts of the community), and Acceleration (how fast the community is working to improve biking).

    Currently, there are total of 206 miles of on-street bike lanes in Denver. When complete, the city’s bike network, as identified in the Denver Moves: Bikes Plan, will consist of nearly 450 miles of bike facilities and every household will be within a quarter mile of a high ease of use facility.

    To learn more about Denver’s bike program, please visit http://denvergov.org/bikeprogram.

    The “Emerald Mile” at Centennial Gardens in Denver, May 2020.

    Dry Conditions Persist Across #Colorado for a Second Month — NRCS

    Here’s the release from the NRCS (Brian Domonkos):

    For the second month in a row all major basins in Colorado experienced below average precipitation during May. To express the degree of the dry conditions, 49 out of 115 Colorado SNOTEL sites received the lowest or second lowest precipitation amounts on record for the combined months of April and May. The combination of low precipitation and warm temperatures have caused accelerated snowmelt rates across the state and particularly in southern Colorado where precipitation has been the least. Recent conditions, combined with a dry late summer and fall last year, have led to an unusual relationship between peak snowpack and snowmelt runoff volumes. NRCS Hydrologist Karl Wetlaufer explains “While most of Colorado reached a near normal peak snowpack, the combination of drought conditions going into winter and recent lack of precipitation have led streamflow forecasts to be much lower than would commonly occur with a similar snowpack. This is particularly notable in southern Colorado”.

    In addition to well below normal precipitation, the Colorado mountains have also had warmer than normal temperatures. This combination has led to snowmelt rates that are much faster than normally observed. In Southern Colorado, where snowpack reached near normal peak values, this led to snow melting out of SNOTEL sites several weeks earlier than normal. In northern basins where snowpack was above normal, snowmelt still occurred early but closer to a normal time than in Southern Colorado. This early snowmelt in combination with low precipitation values both have contributed to declines in streamflow forecasts over the last two months.

    While the average of current streamflow forecasts in all major basins of Colorado are for well below normal volumes, there are still stark differences between the northern and southern basins. The highest forecast values in the state exist in the North Platte, South Platte, and Colorado basins. The average of forecast values in these basins range from 72 to 79 percent of normal volumes. The Gunnison and combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan basins both have average forecast values of 55 percent of normal. The lowest streamflow forecasts in the state are in the Rio Grande basin where they average to be a meager 41 percent of normal. The Arkansas basin spans the gap of north to south with much higher forecasts in the headwaters compared to the much drier southern tributaries.

    Statewide reservoir storage is currently at 100 percent of average but varies considerably basin to basin. The most plentiful storage in the state is in the combined Yampa and White basins as well as the Colorado basin where there is 115 percent of average storage. On the low end, the Rio Grande basin only has 62 percent of average storage which could pose water resource challenges considering the low streamflow forecasts as well. The water supply will have to be watched closely across Colorado.

    For more detailed information about June 1 mountain snowpack refer to the June 1, 2020 Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report. For the most up to date information about Colorado snowpack and water supply related information, refer to the Colorado Snow Survey website.

    Video Conference: Colorado River Basin #Climate and #Hydrology: State of the Science — Western Water Assessment #COriver #aridification

    Click here to register:

    Topic
    Colorado River Basin Climate and Hydrology: State of the Science

    Description
    Western Water Assessment’s Jeff Lukas and Liz Payton will be providing an overview of the recently released report, “Colorado River Basin Climate and Hydrology: State of the Science” and answering audience questions.

    Time:
    Jun 18, 2020 11:00 AM in Mountain Time (US and Canada)

    Click here to read the Coyote Gulch post about the paper.

    #Colorado-Big Thompson operations update

    Olympus Dam photo via the US Bureau of Reclamation.

    From email from Reclamation (Elizabeth Jones):

    Olympus Dam near Estes Park, Colorado impounds Lake Estes. The lake is the afterbay for Estes Powerplant, a hydroelectric powerplant that can produce up to 45 MW each hour. Colorado-Big Thompson Project water from the west slope fuels the Estes Powerplant. Project water discharged from Estes Powerplant is diverted from Lake Estes, routed to additional hydroelectric powerplants on the Front Range and is then stored in Carter Lake or Horsetooth Reservoir. Project water is rarely released from Olympus Dam into the Big Thompson River.

    This is the season for snow-melt runoff into Lake Estes. In the past 10 days, natural inflow into Lake Estes has increased from a low of about 250 cubic feet per second (cfs) to a peak flow of about 1,020 cfs. Currently, natural inflow is decreasing (around 700 cfs); however, warmer or wetter days could result in natural inflow increasing again and the recent peak inflow could be surpassed.

    Olympus Dam is not an authorized flood control structure. As such, the natural snow-melt or precipitation runoff that flows into Lake Estes is released from Olymus Dam into the Big Thompson River. Under normal operations, Olympus Dam does provide the benefit of shaving off the peak inflow. One way it does so can be explained using recent operations. During two days this week when peak inflow into Lake Estes was about 1,000 cfs, maximum release from the dam was 880 cfs. This is because outflows are generally the day’s average. Outflow does not follow the within-day variation, which ranged from 714 cfs to 1,020 cfs within a 24-hour period. Releases from Olympus Dam in the near term will be driven by whatever Nature provides from the headwaters of the Big Thompson watershed.

    As the snow-melt runoff season progresses, Reclamation will provide information to the public regarding expected flows released from Olympus Dam.

    #PFAS Cleanup Backers Face Unexpected Foe: Water Utilities — Bloomberg Law

    PFAS contamination in the U.S. via ewg.org. [Click the map to go to the website.]

    From Bloomberg Law (John Dunbar and Christina Brady):

    After decades of inaction, the federal government has gotten serious about cleaning up PFAS, a class of compounds known as “forever chemicals” that have been linked to health problems and inhabit the bloodstream of nearly every American.

    Congress has introduced dozens of bills mentioning “PFAS” so far in the 2019-2020 Congress, many more than in previous years. The boom in legislation has sparked a major increase in lobbying. In 2017, only four entities mentioned the issue in government lobbying reports. In 2018, the number grew to 35, and by 2019, it rocketed to 164.

    More water utilities—which have pushed back against certain provisions to clean up PFAS—have lobbied on regulation of the chemicals than any other group. They rank above the air travel industry, cities, and chemical companies, a Bloomberg Law analysis shows.

    “I continue to be shocked that people charged with keeping our water clean have been among the most vocal opponents of getting PFAS out of our water, and are in many respects just as bad as many of the polluters whose mess they are charged with cleaning up,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs with the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization…

    One basic question underlies the debate over what to do about what is arguably one of the most pervasive public health threats facing Americans in years: Who is going to pay to clean up this mess?

    […]

    Under proposed EPA regulation and congressional action, utilities are faced with removing the stubborn compounds from their systems and disposing of them in landfills which could be designated as Superfund sites. Water utilities are already dealing with an aging infrastructure, worries about lead, and costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact.

    Among the tools in the EPA’s toolbox for cleaning up toxic chemicals like PFAS is the Superfund law, enacted in 1980, which gave the agency the authority to force polluters to pay for cleanup of toxic sites…

    In July 2019, the Democrat-controlled House approved the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2500), which contained an amendment by Michigan Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell that would force the EPA to designate PFOA and PFOS as “hazardous” within a year, thus triggering the Superfund designation that would allow the EPA to compel cleanup.

    An alliance of water associations wrote to the House and Senate armed services committees in August, saying the Superfund designation could “create liability for communities that encounter PFAS in their water treatment activities.”

    The letter was signed by the American Water Works Association, the American Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the National Association of Water Companies, and the National Rural Water Association.

    A coalition of industry groups also argued against the Superfund designation, saying such decisions are “not political questions that Congress is best positioned to address,” in a letter to the House. “EPA should retain its traditional authority to study potentially hazardous substances and to ascertain whether they should be designated under CERCLA.”

    The letter was signed by more than a dozen industry associations, including the American Chemistry Council, whose members include 3M, which still manufactures PFAS compounds, and DuPont spinoff, Chemours Co., which now holds most of DuPont’s PFAS liabilities.

    Faber, of the Environmental Working Group, said utilities aren’t usually big contributors of PFAS to sites that could be designated under Superfund and subjected to liability. And they don’t have deep pockets. The government usually goes after companies with resources, not “cash-strapped entities,” he continued.

    Mehan, from the utilities group, said that EPA doesn’t sue municipalities under Superfund, but other entities—like polluters that have been declared responsible for cleaning up contaminated sites—”have and will. Hundreds of them.”

    Mark W. LeChevallier is the former chief environmental officer for publicly traded American Water and is now a consultant. “Any utility has to be worried,” he said. “The ultimate disposal is an issue here. And that might be a concern that some utilities have. Will they have ultimate responsibility?”

    […]

    In Colorado, where groundwater contamination is a problem thanks in part to the military’s use of firefighting foam at its facilities, state lawmakers proposed testing requirements for drinking water and setting limits for PFAS. But the proposal didn’t survive the bill’s first hearing.

    “We had pushback from the utility companies,” said state Rep. Tony Exum Sr., a Democrat who represents a part of the state that has been contaminated with the chemicals. “To mitigate and prevent is very, very expensive, as well as enforcement.”

    Similar to the federal level, the groups had liability concerns, which lawmakers sought to address, “but we just didn’t have enough time to move forward,” Exum said.

    “We’re going to keep working on it so we can come to an agreement,” he continued. “We can’t take clean water for granted.”

    The June 1, 2020 #Colorado #Water Supply Outlook Report is hot off the presses from the NRCS #snowpack #runoff

    Click here to read the report. Here’s and excerpt: