Pagosa Springs Town Manager Andrea Phillips began the meeting by providing an update on the pumps the PSSGID recently purchased for the pipeline running from downtown to the PAWSD Vista wastewater treatment plant. She added that the project has experienced additional costs since its installation in 2015, including spending on odor-control devices, an underground storage vault to store overflow waste and the new pumps, which had cost PSSGID approximately $800,000. Utilities Supervisor Lucian Brewster also provided an update on the pumps, indicating that the system has been fully switched over to the new pumps and the pumps have been running well.
Phillips added that she anticipates that the PSSGID will have to perform an additional $500,000 in pretreatment screening upgrades to ensure the new pumps continue to perform effectively throughout their lifetimes. She also stated that the PSSGID is working on an emergency liner for one of the previously used lagoons by Yamaguchi Park to provide additional wastewater storage, an addition that would likely cost another $100,000…
PAWSD District Manager Justin Ramsey then gave an update on PAWSD’s efforts to acquire a delay on a state-mandated upgrade to the Vista wastewater plant that was originally mandated to be completed by 2025 and would cost approximately $20 million. He indicated that PAWSD is hop- ing to get the deadline for the implementation of certain nutrient- filtering upgrades delayed to at least 2027, although the delay had already been requested and rejected once by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)…
The group then moved on to discuss the possibility of construct- ing a joint sewer plant for the PSS- GID and PAWSD, which Ramsey suggested could be a solution to PAWSD’s difficulties in upgrading the Vista plant.
Colorado’s state water plan will receive $11.4 million from gaming revenues this year, a 43% increase over last year’s distribution. The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission on Thursday announced that sports betting yielded tax revenues of $12.4 million in its second year of operation.
Under House Bill 19-1327, which later became Proposition DD on the 2019 ballot, tax revenues from sports gambling first go to a “hold harmless” fund and to address program gambling. The state water plan, while last on the list, gets the lion’s share of the revenues.
Colorado’s water plan has suffered from low investment from state government. Initially, the water plan, issued in 2015 under Gov. John Hickenlooper, was projected to require $20 billion in investments — to be paid for with higher water rates, federal grants and loans, and severance tax collections. The state’s share of that investment was projected at $100 million per year, beginning in 2020 and running through 2050.
Native Excavating installed 2,265 linear feet of 24-inch sewer pipe and eight manholes this year alone. Excluding lateral connections, about 71% of the main sewer line is complete and the crews are about one week ahead of schedule. Crews will install service connections into the new sewer main while abandoning the existing main, then they’ll test and inspect the new manhole connections and sewer main. Then, the private irrigation systems that were impacted by the construction will be repaired or replaced, such as the systems at City Market Fuel and The Village at Steamboat…
Elsewhere, starting this past week, culverts in four areas of town are being rehabilitated as part of a separate project seeking to upgrade critical water infrastructure.
Click the link to read the article on the Sierra Club Magazine website (Jeremy Miller). Here’s an excerpt:
This summer in the southwestern United States has been defined by climate chaos. At one point, more than 75 million people were under an extreme heat advisories, and temperature records were broken in cities throughout the region. As the climate warms, these kinds of events will become more common, straining states’ ability to care for the most vulnerable. The warmer temperatures have also intensified the drought—the most severe dry spell in nearly 1,300 years—and strained the Colorado River, which supplies 40 million residents in the West with drinking water, to the breaking point. That’s why a group of western Democrat senators including Colorado’s Michael Bennet, Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto, and Arizona’s Mark Kelly secured $4 billion in funding as part of the Inflation Reduction Act to deal with persistent drought.
The funds will be directed to the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that operates and maintains hundreds of dams and reservoirs across the country, including Lake Powell and Lake Mead. The Inflation Reduction Act stipulates that the $4 billion can be spent in one of three ways: to pay water users to reduce consumption; to fund conservation projects that reduce demand in the upper and lower basins of the Colorado River; and restorations of ecosystems and habitat directly harmed by drought. The bill also allocates $220 million to tribal nations (who collectively hold rights to 2.9 million acre-feet of Colorado River water) to fund climate resilience and adaptation programs.
In addition to funding for the Colorado River Basin, the Biden bill allocates another $8.3 billion “to address water and drought challenges and invest in our nation’s western water and power infrastructure, while rebuilding our existing projects to withstand a changing hydrology,” according to a Department of the Interior press release…
Robert Glennon, emeritus professor of law at the University of Arizona, says that there are solutions available that can save the Colorado River from ecological and hydrological collapse. While residential water scofflaws and “lawn cops” in Las Vegas and Los Angeles draw headlines, the biggest and most conspicuous user of the river water by far is agriculture, which accounts for roughly 80 percent of use. In Pinal County, near Phoenix, for example, water is delivered at great expense across the desert to irrigate tens of thousands of acres of water-intensive crops such as cotton and alfalfa (a large portion of the latter is shipped overseas to feed livestock). Efforts to update infrastructure such as improving canals and replacing antiquated flood irrigation systems with modern drip irrigation could reap potentially large savings, says Glennon. But these projects are also very expensive and, therefore, subsidies and grants will be necessary to aid in the transition. “Farmers tend to be land rich and cash poor, so the bureau could play a major role in helping farmers modernize their infrastructure,” Glennon said.
Click the link to read the article on the WUNC website (Kirk Siegler). Here’s an excerpt:
SIEGLER: It’s not? Kmiec says there are two big reasons why. The first is aggressive conservation, like water recycling. Tucson uses the same amount of water as it did in the 1980s, yet it’s added 200,000 more people.
KMIEC: It’s all about adaptation and making sure you – the water that you use, particularly in the desert, is for what you need.
SIEGLER: But the other even bigger reason why Kmiec isn’t up all night worrying…
KMIEC: Because we’ve banked more than 5 1/2 years of excess Colorado River water in these aquifers already.
SIEGLER: You can think of it like a secret reservoir hidden underneath this vast Sonoran desert with its blazing sun and saguaro cactus.
KMIEC: It looks like about a 40-acre basin, the one we’re standing next to.
SIEGLER: This basin is mostly dried dirt, with occasional stocks of green grass from recent monsoons – not exactly what you picture when you think of a city’s water plant, though another basin in front of us does have some water.
KMIEC: We fill these large reservoirs up. They look like small lakes. But what’s actually happening is the water is slowly going down and percolating into the aquifer and turning into groundwater.