Norwood Water Commission board meeting recap #PFAS

Lone Cone from Norwood

From The Norwood Post (Harley Workman):

Each year, the board votes on a new chairperson that is from either location; a town member is appointed to lead on odd years, and a rural member is appointed on even years. The opposite happens for the vice chairperson.

For 2020, the board voted Jim Jensen, who represents the surrounding rural area, as chair. He replaces Finn Kjome, who lives in town limits. Kjome was appointed as the new vice chair at last week’s meeting.

Other water commission board members are Mike Grafmyer, Jim Wells, Ron Gabbett and John Owens.

Tim Lippert, the town’s public works director and operator, gave the board several updates. The first item was the repair work needed on a town vehicle and the possibility of purchasing a new vehicle as a replacement. Lippert said the repairs would cost approximately $1,000.

He also presented new raw water data to the board, as they’d requested information on how the new system was impacting the town’s reserves. However, the water data is based on only the first year of operation and study for Norwood’s new system. The board agreed that additional data over several years is needed to ensure data collected on the raw water system is accurate.

Lippert informed the board of a state program, which is offering free testing of municipal water for the chemical Teflon, a substance dangerous to drinking water and frequently found in fire-fighting foam.

Lippert told the board that the testing is not mandatory, but could possibly be in the future.

Teflon testing has been occurring across the nation since 2013 and has recently started in Colorado. The test looks for Teflon in amounts as small as 70 parts per trillion.

Norwood’s board expressed willingness to do the Teflon testing if the tests are paid for by the state program. Board members said they don’t want to have to pay for the testing with the town’s money.

Currently, the state has roughly $500,000 in funding for the free testing. Lippert said on Monday the Town of Norwood did apply for funds and will know in the near future if the test will be conducted locally.

At the same time, board members also said they don’t believe that the chemical will be found in Norwood’s water, because of the lack of forest fires that have occurred on the Lone Cone. Still, they said they are open to running the test to be certain.

Montrose Councillors get briefing by @USBR and @BLM_CO regarding future Paradox Valley salinity operations

Paradox Valley Location Map. Credit: Bureau of Reclamation

From The Montrose Press (Katharhynn Heidelberg):

The main injection well for salinity control in the Paradox Valley is hearing the end of its useful life, prompting a draft document spelling out actions to take.

Montrose County commissioners, who met on Wednesday afternoon with several representatives of the Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Land Management, raised concerns over scenic and recreational values, seismic activity and energy use that would come into play, depending on which of four scenarios the Department of Interior selects to address salt loading.

“Some of the concerns I have is the aesthetics of it,” Commissioner Roger Rash said, referring to an alternative in the agencies’ draft environmental impact statement that calls for several large evaporative ponds.

Commissioner Sue Hansen, meanwhile, was concerned about private land bordering the proposed sites for new salinity control facilities, as well as seismic activity…

Agencies offer strategies

The first alternative in the Dec. 6 draft EIS is no action: salinity control would stop in the Paradox Valley.

Alternative B calls for a new deep injection well, under which brine would be collected and piped to the existing surface treatment facility and, from there, piped to a new deep injection well and injected into unpressurized sections of the Leadville Formation.

Two proposed areas were analyzed as possible locations for the new well. One includes a combination of BuRec land and BLM-administered land on Skein Mesa.

The second area is on BLM-administered land on Monogram Mesa or Fawn Springs Bench.

Each site would require rights of way or withdrawals of BLM land and a variety of infrastructure; additionally, the Monogram Mesa site would require BuRec to acquire 49 acres of private land.

Potential Gunnison sage-grouse habitat implications were noted, although the draft EIS did not deem these to be significant.

If Alternative B is selected, new seismic investigations would be completed to determine the final site of the well; this would require additional analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Alternative C would control salinity through several evaporation ponds and piping. It would require a 60-acre landfill that could be as tall as 100 feet above ground…

The draft EIS acknowledges the ponds and landfill would “negatively affect the visual landscape of the Paradox Valley” and would not conform with the BLM Uncompahgre Field Office’s resource management plan, so an amendment to that plan would be required…

Alternative C would also have the most indirect effect on cultural resources and on wildlife, particularly migratory birds…

Rash said the proposed mitigation itself wasn’t visually appealing, either, particularly putting netting over the evaporative ponds; McWhirter said that would only be feasible for one of the ponds.

The draft EIS also looked at zero-liquid discharge technology, Alternative D.

Under it, brine would be piped to a treatment plant consisting of thermally driven crystallizers to evaporate and condense water from brine, resulting in a solid salt and freshwater stream. The salt would also go to a 60-acre landfill.

There would be 80 acres of permanent surface disturbance, requiring the withdrawal of 267 acres of BLM-administered lands, further, 56 acres of private land would have to be obtained.

Alternative D would also use the most energy — 26,700 megawatts per hour for electrical energy use and 4.2 million CCF (hundreds of cubic feet) of natural gas per year.

Hansen asked about seismic activity related to injection activities and was told it’s not usually significant — although there was a 4.5 magnitude earthquake close to the current injection well — and that seismic activity is indeed associated with the injection drilling…

Summary of alternatives

• A (no action): 95,000 tons of salt per year no longer removed from Dolores and Colorado Rivers; induced seismicity; increase in downstream salinity numeric criteria.

• B (new injection well): removal of up to 114,000 tons of salt per year; induced seismicity; drilling under Dolores River Canyon Wilderness Study Area (if sited on Skein Mesa location); 22-mile pipeline and pumping stations to transport brine with high hydrogen sulfide concentration (if sited on Monogram Mesa location).

• C (evaporation ponds): Removal of up to 171,000 tons of salt annually; 540-care surface evaporation ponds; wildlife mortality; non-conformance with BLM’s Resource Management Plan; 60-acre salt disposal landfill…

• D (zero-liquid discharge technology): Removal of up to 171,000 tons of salt annually; significant energy requirement; 60-acre salt disposal landfill…

The draft environmental impact statement is available online at http://www.usbr.gov/uc/progact/paradox/index.html.

Comments may be submitted until 11:59 p.m., Mountain Time, Feb. 4. Those interested may submit comments by email to paradoxeis@usbr.gov or to Ed Warner, Area Manager, Bureau of Reclamation, 445 West Gunnison Ave, Suite 221, Grand Junction, CO 81501.

Paradox Valley via Airphotona.com

Southwest #Colorado remains in severe #drought — The Cortez Journal

West Drought Monitor December 24, 2019.

From The Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga):

Much of Southwest Colorado remains listed in a severe drought although it has accumulated 130% of average snowpack.

According the U.S. Drought Monitor as of Dec. 24, all of Montezuma County and all but the northern edge of La Plata County and the eastern edge of Archuleta County remain listed in severe drought. Virtually all of Dolores, Montrose and Ouray counties were designated in a severe drought.

As of Dec. 30, the severe drought designation remained despite an above-average snowpack for Southwest Colorado.

San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan Basin High/Low graph December 30, 2019 via the NRCS.

A SNOTEL map showed 130% of the 30-year average snowpack for the San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel river basins as of Dec. 30.

The reason the region remains in the drought category is because the drought monitor tracks precipitation over many previous months, said Ken Curtis, general manager of the Dolores Water Conservancy District that manages McPhee Reservoir.

July through October was very dry, with below-average moisture. It will take continued average, to above-average moisture to knock the area out of drought, he said…

A large part of Colorado’s Western Slope remains in severe or moderate drought.

In fact, only the northeast section of the state, including the Denver metro area and the northern mountains around Steamboat Springs, are not under some kind of drought listing.

In all, nearly 70% of Colorado is abnormally dry or in moderate or severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. A year ago, roughly 85% of the state had some kind of drought status, including 11% that was listed as being in exceptional drought.

Despite the continued dry conditions, forecasters said things are better than they were last year at this time when exceptional and extreme drought – the worst categories – had set in. Over the last three months, parts of southern Arizona and New Mexico recovered but portions of Utah and Colorado dried out…

Purgatory Resort was reporting a 54-inch base depth Monday, Telluride Ski Area was reporting a 43-inch base, and Wolf Creek Ski Area was reporting an 81-inch midway base depth.

Colorado Statewide Snowpack basin-filled map December 30, 2019 via the NRCS.

Dolores approves 2020 budget — The Cortez Journal

Dolores

From The Cortez Journal (Jim Mimaga):

The Dolores Town Board approved a $1.5 million budget for 2020 that funds a variety of services, and includes infrastructure upgrades and recreation projects…

The budgeted expenditures are $618,572 for the General Fund, $378,066 for the Street Fund, $285,584 for the Water Fund, $199,526 for the Sewer Fund, and $41,500 for the Conservation Trust Fund. Capital improvements total $278,000 for 2020 for all departments…

A major expense for 2020 is a $645,000 project to replace 50-year-old water lines beneath Colorado Highway 145. Nine deteriorating lines need to be replaced before the highway is repaved in 2021 by the Colorado Department of Transportation.

To help pay for the project, the town is seeking a $322,000 grant from the Department of Local Affairs, and may consider taking out a low-interest loan.

“Both water and wastewater treatment plants are in good condition, but repairs are necessary,” states the budget report…

The Water Fund budget includes $58,000 for a new chlorinator treatment system required by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment…

Dolores officials will be researching options for solar power in 2020 to offset electric costs, which represent nearly 6.5% of operations in all funds.

@USBR seeks public input on alternatives to reduce salinity and improve water quality in the #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Paradox Valley Location Map. Credit: Bureau of Reclamation

Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation (Justin Liff, Lesley McWhirter):

The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public input on alternatives to reduce salinity in the Colorado River from sources in the Paradox Valley in western Colorado. Currently, the Paradox Valley Unit (PVU) in Montrose County, Colorado, is intercepting naturally occurring brine and injecting it 16,000 feet underground via a deep injection well. The PVU began operating in 1996 and is nearing the end of its useful life. The United States has a water quality obligation to control salt in the Colorado River, in compliance with the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act, the Clean Water Act, and a 1944 treaty with Mexico.

“The Paradox Valley Unit is a cost-effective salinity control project in the Colorado River Basin as it prevents 95,000 tons of salt annually from reaching the Dolores River and eventually the Colorado River—that’s approximately 7% of total salinity control occurring in the basin,” said Area Manager for Reclamation’s Western Colorado Area Office Ed Warner. “Reducing salt in the rivers improves water quality, crop production and wildlife habitat in the basin.”

Reclamation is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement and has released a draft for public review and comment. Alternatives analyzed in the draft EIS include a new injection well; evaporation ponds; zero liquid discharge technology; and no action, which would result in no salinity control in the Paradox Valley.

The public is invited to attend public meetings to learn more, ask questions and provide comments. Two public meetings will be held on:

– Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 in Paradox, Colorado at the Paradox Valley Charter School, 21501 6 Mile Rd., at 5 p.m. – Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020 in Montrose, Colorado at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, 1391 S. Townsend Ave., at 6 p.m.

The draft Environmental Impact Statement is available online at http://www.usbr.gov/uc/progact/paradox/index.html or a copy can be requested by contacting Reclamation.

Reclamation will consider all comments received by 11:59 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on Feb. 4, 2020. Those interested may submit comments by email to paradoxeis@usbr.gov or to Ed Warner, Area Manager, Bureau of Reclamation, 445 West Gunnison Ave, Suite 221, Grand Junction, CO 81501.

Paradox Valley via Airphotona.com

#Utah Division of Water Resources announces finalized regional water #conservation goals

Credit: Utah Department of Water Resources

Here’s the release from the Utah Department of Natural Resources (Kim Wells:

After reviewing and incorporating over 330 public comments, the Utah Division of Water Resources has finalized regional water conservation goals. Goals were established for nine regions around the state for municipal and industrial (M&I) water conservation. M&I includes residential, commercial, institutional (for example, schools and parks), and industrial water use, and excludes agriculture, mining and power generation.

“We appreciate all those who took the time to review the goals and share their opinions,” said Division of Water Resources Director Eric Millis. “There were some insightful comments, which were incorporated into the report. There is always value in soliciting public input.”

Although the numbers did not change, the comments improved the readability of the report including text clarifications that make the report better. All 334 comments and the division’s response to them are included in Appendix J of the report. The comments were collected during a 30-day comment period that ran from Aug. 27-Sept. 25.

The goals vary by region. When every region reaches its goal, a 16% water use reduction will be realized by 2030. This approach allows the goals to be tailored to each region’s characteristics.

(https://water.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/RWCG-Map-web-1.jpg)

“When you look at the amazing variety we have in our great state – from southern Utah’s red rocks to the Alpine mountains in the north – targeting goals for a specific region allows the goals to account for things like climate, elevation, growing season and specific needs,” said Millis. “It’s a more local and customized approach.”

This is the first time Utah’s water conservation goals have been established on a regional level, an approach which was recommended by the 2015 Legislative Audit, 2017 Follow-up Audit, Third-Party Review and 2017 Recommended State Water Strategy.

“The regional goals replace the ‘25% by 2025’ goal. They also build on the previous statewide goal and will require everyone to do their part to conserve this precious resource,” said River Basin Planning Manager Rachel Shilton. “Every step counts and water conservation needs to become a way of life for all Utahns.”

Utah’s previous statewide conservation goal of reducing per-capita use 25% by 2025 was introduced by Gov. Gary Herbert during his 2013 State of the State address. (Gov. Mike Leavitt first set a target to use 25% less water by the year 2050 back in 2000.) Utahns were making great progress on the water conservation front, so Herbert challenged Utahns to cut the time in half. The regional goals are designed to continue to improve the state’s conservation efforts.

To formulate the regional water conservation goals, the Division of Water Resources first gathered public input. During fall 2018, over 1,650 people participated in a water conservation survey, and eight open houses across the state were held. After public input was tallied, a team consisting of water providers, members from the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, and Water Resources staff worked with a third-party consultant to provide input on the region-specific goals. Public input was gathered during a 30-day comment period, reviewed and incorporated.

“These goals will help guide the state’s water managers in planning future infrastructure, policies and programs consistent with Utah’s semiarid climate and growing demand for water,” said Millis. “They will also be used to plan conservation programs.”

View the regional water conservation goals at http://Water.Utah.Gov/goals.

For more information, contact Kim Wells, public information officer, at 801.803.0336 or email kimwells@utah.gov.

Southwestern Water Conservation District’s Annual Water Seminar: Friday, November 1, 2019

Swim class on the San Juan River. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

Click here for all the inside skinny:

The 37th Annual Water Seminar will be kicked off by SWCD’s new executive director, Frank Kugel. He has a strong track record of building partnerships and leveraging local resources for collaborative water solutions. Frank will speak to some of the challenges SWCD sees facing water management in southwestern Colorado, and opportunities for our communities to proactively address them.

Anxious for winter storms? First, we’ll hear about the forecast from KKTV meteorologist Brian Bledsoe, and cutting-edge methods for snowpack measurement from Jeff Deems of the National Snow & Ice Data Center.

No water seminar in 2019 would be complete without a discussion of the state’s current feasibility investigation of a demand management program. Mark Harris, Grand Valley Water Users Association, will moderate a panel of heavy hitters on the topic: Colorado Water Conservation Board Director Becky Mitchell, The Nature Conservancy Water Projects Director Aaron Derwingson, and Colorado River District General Manager Andy Mueller.

Further expanding on the subject, we’ll hear a proposal from local economist Steve Ruddell and consultant Dave Stiller which challenges the notion that a successful *and* voluntary, temporary, compensated demand management program would be impossible. State Senator Don Coram and State Representative Marc Catlin will react to this proposal and provide their thoughts more generally on funding water management in Colorado.

And if you haven’t heard the latest results of the West Slope Risk Assessment, John Currier, Colorado River District, will be summarizing the report for southwestern Colorado and taking questions. Jayla Poppleton, Water Education Colorado, will also preview several exciting programs and content making waves across the state. Watch your inbox for the final program, coming soon!

Reserve your seat now. Registration includes catered breakfast and lunch. Click here to register or call 970-247-1302.

Southwestern Water Conservation District Area Map. Credit: SWCD