#NM Environment Dept. & #GoldKingMine Citizens’ Group Meets September 25, 2017

The orange plume flows through the Animas across the Colorado/New Mexico state line the afternoon of Aug. 7, 2015. (Photo by Melissa May, San Juan Soil and Conservation District)

From email from the New Mexico Environment Department:

The New Mexico Gold King Mine Spill Citizens’ Advisory Committee, based out of San Juan County, New Mexico, meets Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the San Juan Community College Student Center – SUNS Room (accessible through the Henderson Fine Arts Building).

Shannon Manfredi, Coordinator, Animas River Community Forum (ARCF) in Durango will discuss the role of the ARCF and related organizations, membership composition, and issues.

The Citizens’ Advisory Committee is a group of 11 citizen volunteers from Northern New Mexica, including the Navajo Nation, who provide a forum for public concerns while tracking the scientific long-term monitoring of the Gold King Mine spill’s effects in the state. The CAC works with New Mexico’s Long-Term Impact Review Team established by Governor Susana Martinez to both monitor and discuss with the public the continuing effects of the 2015 mine blowout, caused by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that released three million gallons of mining wastewater laden with 880,000 pounds of metals into the Animas and San Juan River system.

For more information please visit the New Mexico Environment Department’s Gold King Mine website at https://www.env.nm.gov/river-water-safety/ or send an email to: NMENV-Outreach@state.nm.us

Study: Aurora and Castle Rock pony up $50,000 each to study the potential of designated groundwater basin storage

Colorado designated groundwater basins.

From The Aurora Sentinel (Kara Mason):

Essentially, the facility would operate like an underground reservoir, and the city says it has its benefits. Permitting an underground storage facility isn’t as expensive as an above ground reservoir and capital costs are lower, according to city water officials. There are also fewer environmental impacts, and because the storage is underground the water supply doesn’t evaporate like it would aboveground.

The big challenge of underground facilities, such as the one Aurora and Castle Rock are looking into, called the Lost Creek Underground Storage Pilot Project, is engineering, said State Engineer Kevin Rein.

In the case of Lost Creek, there is already groundwater in the area. It’s in an “almost transient state,” Rein said. That means the water would eventually make its way to a river. Keeping stored water from also escaping to a river requires careful planning.

“It takes a lot of engineering and calculation,” Rein said.

But the project is completely doable, officials said. There is one underground storage facility that benefits the metro area, Centennial Water uses a system similar to what Aurora and Castle Rock are considering. That project serves Highland Ranch. For Denver, the city recharges aquifers. Rein said the rules that apply to those sites may look similar to the rules his agency is being charged with writing for underground storage facilities.

Aurora has ventured into similar storage projects before, but those facilities are used less for storage and more as a natural filter. The three underground facilities Aurora currently operates are part of the Prairie Waters project. Each is around 50-feet deep and as large as a football field.

Aurora City Council has approved an agreement to pay $50,000 to partially fund the Lost Creek Underground Storage Pilot Project, located northeast of the city in the Lost Creek basin. Castle Rock will pay $50,000 for the study too — which will survey the area, drilling bore holes to reaffirm the area is suitable for an underground storage facility.

The first phase of the Lost Creek project will look at data gathering. If all is successful in establishing a location for the facility, phase II will encompass feasibility, according to Alex Davis, Deputy Director for Water Resources in Aurora.

The feasibility side of project would address how obtainable the land is, what other data might be needed and who to collaborate on the project with.

This year the Colorado Legislature granted $200,000 for underground storage pilot studies. The joint effort between Aurora and Castle Rock is expected to cost $150,000, with the Colorado Water Conservation Board picking up a portion of the tab.

The pilot project’s first phase is expected to start this fall and take no longer than one year to complete. Aurora is working alongside Castle Rock, as the two have partnered on other water projects. Davis said the two have proven to be successful partners on water issues in the past, making this venture a no-brainer.

The 2016 State Water Plan identified 400,000 acre feet of water that needs storage by 2050. So it’s possible that underground storage facilities may become even more popular, Rein said.

The ‘Restoration Economy’ #ActOnClimate

Graphic via SustainableWater.com.

From Ecosystem Marketplace (Steve Zwick):

The restoration economy evolved slowly over the past 40 years as states from New York to Colorado to California realized it was often more efficient to restore natural systems that protect coasts and manage water than it was to build substitutes from concrete and steel. The city of New York, for example, has long saved money on water filtration costs by paying farmers in the Catskills to restore natural grasses that absorb farm runoff, while the city of Denver is funneling water utility fees into forests that store and filter water, and California uses meadows and streams to filter and store the water that feeds into its famous aqueducts.

Closer to hurricane territory, the state of Texas is home to one of the country’s largest for-profit restoration projects, while studies have shown that Louisiana can earn billions by restoring its coastal mangroves – or lose multiples of that by letting them die.

Yale #Climate Opinion Maps – U.S. 2016 #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

From the Yale Program on Climate Communication (Jennifer Marlon, Peter Howe, Matto Mildenberger and Anthony Leiserowitz):

This version of the Yale Climate Opinion Maps is based on data through the year 2016. Public opinion about global warming is an important influence on decision making about policies to reduce global warming or prepare for the impacts, but American opinions vary widely depending on where people live. So why would we rely on just one national number to understand public responses to climate change at the state and local levels? Public opinion polling is generally done at the national level, because local level polling is very costly and time intensive. Our team of scientists, however, has developed a geographic and statistical model to downscale national public opinion results to the state, congressional district, and county levels. We can now estimate public opinion across the country and a rich picture of the diversity of Americans’ beliefs, attitudes, and policy support is revealed. For instance, nationally, 70% of Americans think global warming is happening. But the model shows that only 49% of people in Emery County, Utah agree. Meanwhile 72% in neighboring Grand County, Utah believe global warming is happening. Explore the maps by clicking on your state, congressional district, or county and compare the results across questions and with other geographic areas. Beneath each map are bar charts displaying the results for every question at whichever geographic scale is currently selected. See the methods page for more information about error estimates. This research and website are funded by the Skoll Global Threats Fund, the Energy Foundation, the 11th Hour Project, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, the MacArthur Foundation, the Overlook Foundation and the Endeavor Foundation. We are very grateful to Connie Roser-Renouf, Ed Maibach, Lisa Fernandez, Eric Fine, Bessie Schwarz, Mike Slattery, and Seth Rosenthal for their assistance with and support of the project. For further questions about these maps or what they mean, please see our Frequently Asked Questions tab (above).

Increased sedimentation due to wildfire

From News Deeply (Alastair Bland):

New research predicts that an increase in the frequency and magnitude of wildfires will double the rates of sedimentation in one-third of the West’s large watersheds, reducing reservoir storage and affecting water supplies.

In the Paonia Reservoir, completed in 1962 in Gunnison County, Colorado, for example, the dam’s outlet was built 60ft off the lake’s bottom. Now, Randle says, the bottom of the lake is above the outlet. The outlets in many other small reservoirs have become clogged with sediment, requiring expensive dredging or even the removal of the dams. Other times, boat ramps and marinas get buried and filled in. According to Randle, about 35 percent of the reservoirs managed by his agency have been surveyed for sediment fill. With most reservoirs, however, how much capacity has been lost is a matter of educated guesswork.

“Lake Powell probably has 1 million acre-feet less water than what we think,” Randle says.

And now the problem is predicted to get much worse.

According to new research from the U.S. Geological Survey, in many regions erosion rates are now accelerating thanks to wildfires and climate change. The western U.S., which relies on reservoirs for vital water storage and flood control, will be particularly impacted.

The problems of reservoir sedimentation have been at least somewhat understood for centuries, and most dams in the United States have been built with average rates of upslope erosion factored into the placement of the outflow pipes…

Authors of the USGS study, which was published September 7 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, wrote that projected increases in the frequency and magnitude of wildfires will double the rates of sedimentation in one-third of 471 large watersheds in the western U.S. within the next 33 years. In almost nine out of 10 of the watersheds assessed, sedimentation could increase by at least 10 percent, the researchers warned. In some watersheds, the researchers predict, erosion and sedimentation could increase by 1,000 percent. Climate change, they concluded, is the underlying culprit.

Randle says climate change – which may already be increasing the intensity of droughts and, in turn, wildfires – is driving a vicious cycle whereby sedimentation rates increase. This reduces reservoir storage space, “which leaves you less prepared for the next drought.”

[…]

water and forest managers well know the correlation between fires and post-burn erosion. For example, more than 1 million cubic yards of sediment entered Strontia Springs Reservoir, a major supply lake for Denver Water, following the Hayman fire, which burned 138,000 acres in Colorado in 2002…

Once sediment has settled to the bottom, the most effective means of removal is dredging, which can be costly.

“It’s much more expensive to dredge out your reservoirs after a fire than it is to take preventive action, like reducing fuel loads and restoring forests,” said Jason Kreitler, a research geographer with the USGS and a coauthor of the study.

Dredging a reservoir can cost as much as $60 per cubic yard of material, according to Randle. Some operations remove hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of cubic yards of material. Finer-grained silt and clay is cheaper to deal with.

“Sand and gravel is coarser and tends to do more damage to the dredging equipment,” he noted.

Denver Water has spent $27 million removing debris and sediment from Strontia Springs Reservoir, according to a June report. The Los Angeles County Public Works plans to spend $190 million dredging four reservoirs impacted by sediment from the 2009 Station fire, according to a 2013 report from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Fecko says his agency has removed 44,000 cubic yards of material from Ralston Afterbay, a small hydroelectric reservoir on the Middle Fork of the American River, at a cost of $2.2 million. Still, the reservoir has lost about 50 percent of its storage capacity thanks to long-term sedimentation, he says.

Besides lost reservoir storage, there are other impacts from sedimentation. Downstream from dams, rivers become depleted of gravel – essential for spawning salmon…

Randle, at the Bureau of Reclamation, thinks all water agencies and local governments would be wise to take a proactive stance against sediment entering reservoirs.

The #Climate Optimist’s Manifesto #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

Click here to go to the Climate Optimist’s website. Here’s the manifesto:

We must, we can and we will solve climate change. It’s that simple.

And that difficult.

Because the climate change challenge is so great and its consequences are so serious.

Which makes optimism essential. Because hope beats fear. It’s the attitude that inspires progress.

We behave, buy, vote and work for change because we are optimists. And our vocal optimism will take our actions even further. It will make others bold. Political action, business innovation, new investment and global transformation all become possible.

Optimism has always had this power. Humanity has eradicated diseases, overcome great injustices and even reached the stars because enough of us believed we could.

And when we succeed this time, we’ll solve more than climate change. Renewable energy means jobs. Solar energy can help free people from poverty. Cutting pollution benefits our health.

And we’re already doing this. Our optimism is fuelled by the new solutions, inventions and daily efforts from individuals and organisations across the world.

Each of us must face climate change in our own way. We choose belief in a better future. We choose action. We choose hope.

Solving climate change starts with the belief that we can. We are climate optimists. Opt In.

What does ‘solving climate change’ mean?

It means two things:

• Keep well below 2° C of global warming. That’s the level that governments agreed is safe in the COP21 Paris Agreement.
• Help the people who are at risk from the climate change effects that are already happening.

By 2020 we can bend the curve of emissions to make this a reality. That fast.

And we want even more.

The world’s governments have also agreed 17 Global Goals, including ending poverty and hunger, reducing inequality and creating decent jobs through economic growth. We believe that solving climate change can help reach these goals. That’s what we’re most optimistic about.

Can we actually do it?

Fatalism is tempting. We’ve all heard about the scale of the threat. Our optimism doesn’t change the seriousness of what we are facing.

Solving climate change means transforming some of our industries. Especially energy, travel and agriculture. It also means new industries, new jobs and new products need to be invented.

And that’s already begun. More so than most people are aware of. Huge levels of investment are going into renewable energy. Entrepreneurs are creating new climate friendly business models. And millions of people across the world have changed how they eat, buy, vote, build, work and travel.

You can join them.

What can I do?

Opt in to climate optimism. And share your belief that we can solve this.

Then take action in your own life, especially doing things that will make you healthier and happier.

And shine a light on solutions. Find out about the amazing progress already happening.

Climate Prediction Center temp. and precip. outlooks through 12/31/2017

Three month temperature outlook through December 31, 2017 via the Climate Prediction Center.
Three month precipitation outlook through December 31, 2017 via the Climate Prediction Center.