@CWCB_DNR stream recovery work nears completion four years after 2013 floods

Air search for flood victims September 2013 via Pediment Publishing

From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Todd Hartman):

Colorado Water Conservation Board joins partners for innovative approach to restore stream channels, protect property and improve ecological conditions

The record-smashing floods of 2013 ravaged Front Range waterways, rerouting and flattening stream channels, eroding streambanks, degrading fish habitat and stripping trees and vegetation from riparian areas.

Four years later, many of those waterways have been repaired, restored and even improved due to efforts led by the Colorado Water Conservation Board and myriad partners at the state, federal and community level.

With most attention properly focused on the recovery of communities, reconstruction of homes and property as well as road, bridge and infrastructure repair, CWCB and its partners have quietly redesigned and rebuilt stream channels in a way that has improved stream flows, boosted fish habitat and created more resilient waterways in the event of future floods.

Work is expected to be largely complete by the spring of 2018 on numerous waterways well-known and important to many communities. Coal Creek, Fountain Creek, the St. Vrain, Fish Creek, Fall River, the South Platte and other streams have benefited from intensive planning and channel construction work that reflects unprecedented collaboration to recreate streams in a way not only protective of nearby property, but with high ecological function.

That meant not only repairing and replanting streamside habitat but also creating stream channels that work for a variety of flows. A narrow interior channel allows for better passage of sediment and healthier flows even during periods of low water, a feature that can also benefit aquatic life. Those channels were constructed within wider channels to accommodate larger flows that might fill the banks or extend onto floodplains.

“This was a new way of doing business,” said Kevin Houck, chief of CWCB’s watershed and flood protection section. “Typically, after events like this, you’ll see efforts to simply armor the stream bank quickly, for purpose of safety and protecting property. We took a different, more holistic approach and we’re excited to see the results on the ground.”

Shortly after the floods, the CWCB assembled a team of experts at all levels of government to help communities develop short-term and long-term plans to stabilize and recreate damaged stream channels. This team quickly determined that stream rehabilitation would best be guided by a master-planning process at the watershed level, directed by an array of local stakeholders.

Master plans were developed for Fish Creek and Fall River by the Estes Valley Watershed Coalition, Big Thompson River (Big Thompson River Coalition), Little Thompson River (Little Thompson River Coalition), St. Vrain Creek (St. Vrain Creek Coalition), Left Hand Creek (Left Hand Watershed Oversight Group), Fourmile Creek (Fourmile Creek Coalition), Coal Creek (Coal Creek Canyon Watershed Partnership), Middle South Platte (Middle South Platte Watershed Alliance), and Fountain Creek (Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District).

Since the development of the master plans, the CWCB has partnered with the State Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and local sponsors to implement projects identified within the plans. The CWCB and DOLA are managing over $100 million in recovery funds directed towards stream rehabilitation. Money for the work has come from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (NRCS) and Housing and Urban Development, state and local entities and private foundations. The majority of the funding is going towards implementation, but some of it has supported project design and capacity for the local watershed coalitions that are managing many of the projects.

As of the four-year anniversary, most of the projects are complete or under active construction at this time. A detailed description of all projects and many images of the work can be found at the website for the Colorado Emergency Watershed Protection Plan, http://www.coloradoewp.com. The public can also follow progress on Twitter by following @ColoradoEWP.

I don’t know how I missed the great website and Twitter feed.

Scott Hummer, general manager of North Poudre Irrigation Company, talks about how his agency worked with Fort Collins Natural Areas and Colorado Parks and Wildlife to include a fish passage when the irrigation company replaced a diversion structure on the Poudre River that was destroyed by the 2013 floods. Work was completed [in February 2016]. (Pamela Johnson / Loveland Reporter-Herald)

Fountain Creek: #Colorado Springs Nov. 7 stormwater ballot measure cost

The Fountain Creek Watershed is located along the central front range of Colorado. It is a 927-square mile watershed that drains south into the Arkansas River at Pueblo. The watershed is bordered by the Palmer Divide to the north, Pikes Peak to the west, and a minor divide 20 miles east of Colorado Springs. Map via the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.

From The Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

The city’s stormwater measure on the Nov. 7 ballot has stirred a lot of debate. Some don’t like the flat-fee concept — $5 per household, and $30 per acre for commercial land. Others say too many details remain unresolved.

But one thing is beyond dispute: Colorado Springs’ stormwater system sucks, and it’s going to take many years and a lot of dough to fix it. Far from a sexy topic, stormwater drainage gets no respect, and the consequences of that came into full focus during a tag-along with Water Resources Engineering Division Manager Rich Mulledy on Aug. 31.

To grasp the gravity of the problem, you have to get down in the weeds, literally, to see what’s going on along channels that border roads where tens of thousands of cars whiz by daily, their drivers unaware of possible catastrophes waiting to happen.
Monument Creek

Mulledy, a slim 38-year-old engineer and Colorado Springs native sporting a Chicago Cubs cap, leads the way on a short hike behind the Goose Gossage Youth Sports Complex on Mark Dabling Boulevard. “So if you’re playing ball out here,” he quips, “you wouldn’t know about it.”

Beyond the outfield fences, he passes through trees before scampering down a steep embankment to a sandbar where Monument Creek gurgles its way along an embankment prone to sloughing, which sends sand, gravel and trash careening down the creek to its confluence with Fountain Creek, which, in turn, flows south to the Arkansas River east of Pueblo.

Fountain Creek, Mulledy says, is unlike any other in the United States due to its wild fluctuations in flows, from 125 cubic feet per second during normal times to 25,000 cfs in heavy storms. “There’s no other creek that’s a sand bottom creek that sees that kind of flash,” Mulledy says. “It’s a tough creek.”

Rushing runoff from Colorado Springs crumbles banks and sends hundreds of thousands of tons of sediment to Pueblo County, whose officials are none too pleased. There, sediment clogs levees and befouls the Arkansas River. After a 2014 regional ballot measure to fund drainage projects failed at the polls, Pueblo County officials threatened to rescind their construction permit for Colorado Springs’ Southern Delivery System (SDS) pipeline that delivers water from Pueblo Reservoir, unless the city dealt with stormwater. A deal approved by City Council in April 2016 enabled SDS’s activation in exchange for the city spending $460 million on drainage over the next 20 years. That spending eats into the general fund budget, which Mayor John Suthers says is needed to hire more cops and firefighters. Hence, the stormwater fee measure, which is intended to lift that burden.

On this August day, Mulledy doesn’t have to point out damage from Monument Creek’s raging waters. A 20- to 25-foot dirt wall towers along the east side of the creek, where waters carve the banks and threaten to undermine the wall, triggering a collapse of a plateau above. That could bring a storage business crashing down.

“The natural tendency of a stream is to move,” Mulledy explains. “Point [sand] bars move and push the water into the bank. It’s a built environment, so we built up next to it. Now, there’s nowhere for the river to move.”

The city plans to install grouted boulders along a 350-foot stretch at the base of the wall, tying into bedrock. Then, the area will be backfilled with dirt to create a slope, which will be sown with seed to encourage vegetation. “Then it can hold itself, even in big storms,” he says.

Sounds simple, but getting the right kind of heavy equipment into the creek area poses a challenge. “With road work, you can drive up, mill it and pave it,” Mulledy says. “Here, we have to create an access point. We have to bring material in, then we have to armor it for a 100-year [flood] event.” Moreover, the stream’s path itself will need to be moved west to allow workers to construct the project. Lastly, drop structures will be built to flatten the creek bed and retard the water’s flow.

Cost: $750,000.

After the project is completed in 2020, Mulledy says, the site should be inspected annually to assure it holds.

North Douglas Creek

As cars speed by on Interstate 25 just yards away, Mulledy hikes down a slope, through sunflowers and thistle, to the edge of North Douglas Creek where he warns visitors to stay away from the edge — a drop of 30 feet to the creek bed.

Here, the creek has eroded soils so dramatically that part of a concrete box culvert has broken off and been carried about 20 yards downstream. Gas and water lines are exposed, along with a drainage pipe, which juts some 10 feet from the canyon wall, acting as a yardstick for how far the banks have been chipped away.

“Colorado Springs Utilities is worried about that gas line and so are we,” Mulledy says.
To the north is Johnson Storage and Moving, while on the south side lies a construction materials business. Both are threatened.

“Johnson Storage is losing their lot,” Mulledy says, noting the embankment is chipping off several feet per year. Erosion is so bad, Sinton Road adjacent to the culvert could topple some day.

One of the problems stems from development practices in the 1960s and ’70s that followed the then-conventional wisdom to simply move storm flows out of the city as fast as possible. Now, best management practices call for slowing down those flows using detention ponds and drop structures. “We have a better understanding than we used to,” Mulledy says.

This segment of Douglas Creek is part of the city’s network of 270 miles of open channels and 500 miles of storm sewers — subject to inspection by federal regulators of the city’s municipal separate storm sewer system, or MS4, permit, issued through the Environmental Protection Agency.

Violations of that permit and the Clean Water Act led the EPA and the state to sue the city last year. The case is pending and could take years to resolve as the city reconstitutes its program to address water quality and conveyance, compliance with plan review and site inspection for new developments, and maintenance of its entire system.

This particular spot is so tenuous that Mulledy says crews visit it whenever heavy rains come. The fix, he says, will require installation of concrete walls along the bend in the creek to stop sloughing earth, structural fill and grouted rock. A crane will be employed to remove chunks of the concrete culvert.

Cost: $3.5 million.

Like many other projects, this undertaking will require the approval of federal flood plain managers and the Army Corps of Engineers. Work is slated for 2020.

Pine Creek

The most spectacular sight of the day comes at a canyon just north of the Margarita at Pine Creek restaurant, which sits dangerously close to a roughly 50-foot drop-off to Pine Creek below. Another on the city’s list of 71 projects included in the intergovernmental agreement with Pueblo, this site will require stacking boulders to create a wall at least 10 feet high, from the creek bed to the bottom of an exposed limestone shear. Below that limestone is a clay layer notoriously susceptible to erosion. Under that lies pure shale, easily crumbled, especially when the creek runs up to 10 feet deep during 10-year storms. “It’s a little stream,” Mulledy says, “until it rains.”

The project was specifically identified by Pueblo County due to the large amounts of sediment washing into the creek and on to Pueblo via Fountain Creek. Pine Creek starts in Black Forest, winds through Falcon Estates and finally barrels through this canyon before it meets with Monument Creek about a quarter mile away. Power lines along the ridge top are mere feet from the canyon’s lip, and about 100 yards upstream, a bridge might be in danger eventually, Mulledy says.

Like the others, this site will be challenging to access, driving the cost up, he adds.

Cost: $2 million.

The project will be designed next year, and construction is due to begin in 2019.
Green Crest Channel

Green Crest Channel almost claimed a couple of businesses and a portion of Austin Bluffs Parkway back in 2010 before the city shored up the dissolving embankment with a project completed in 2015.

Mulledy worked on the solution to the problem while he was an engineer with Matrix Design Group, later joining the city in February 2016. By buttressing the banks and installing drop structures and grouted boulders, the stream is now healthy and lined with vegetation, such as willows, that appears historic but was placed there by Matrix as part of the project.

Because the new features, including four drop structures, slow the stream’s flow in Templeton Gap, erosion is dramatically curtailed downstream.

Cost: $2.8 million.

Another project upstream from Green Crest will further secure the waterway. At Siferd Street in Park Vista, just east of Academy Boulevard, even a small rain creates monster flooding from an over-topped Templeton Gap waterway. Plans call for crews to raise the road by several feet, lower the creek, and install a box culvert and five drop structures downstream. Work begins in 2020.

Cost: $3.75 million.

Those projects just scratch the surface of problems that become evident when face-to-face with the city’s stream system. With the price tag in the high millions, Mulledy notes he wants to maximize those dollars. That’s why his staff works hand-in-glove with Utilities and the Parks Department to find opportunities to incorporate trails and recreation facilities where plausible.

“Most of our projects are on green corridors,” he says, “so we look for opportunities for green spaces.”

#Colorado Springs “vote yes” on stormwater ballot issue folks gearing up for campaign

Heavy rains inundate Sand Creek. Photo via the City of Colorado Springs and the Colorado Springs Independent.

From The Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

The Nov. 6 election will be the fourth time voters have been asked to provide longterm funding for stormwater, the other failed attempts coming twice in 2001 and the regional effort in 2014 that went down 47 percent to 53 percent. (Voters in April did allow the city to keep up to $12 million in one-time excess revenue from 2016 and 2017 for stormwater.)

But now, the city faces a lawsuit alleging violations of the Clean Water Act filed by the Environmental Protection Agency and state water quality regulators, stemming from the city’s neglect of its stormwater system and waivers the city gave to developers to sidestep building drainage facilities. Suthers says passage of a stormwater fee, which would raise $17 million a year from residents and property owners, would help the city avoid costly fines from the lawsuit, though some city councilors disagree.

Most of the money to be raised by Invest in COS, the “vote yes” committee, will come from business people and construction contractors, says Rachel Beck, government affairs manager with the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC. “They understand the link between reliable infrastructure and their ability to do business and economic health,” she says. The monthly stormwater fee for commercial property owners would be $30 an acre.

Having hired consultant Clear Creek Strategies of Denver, the committee will use mailers, TV and radio, but so far doesn’t have a slogan for the measure, dubbed 2A on the ballot, Beck says.

Suthers interprets a pre-campaign poll that showed the issue passing comfortably as the community seeing stormwater as a priority, he says. “It also indicates the public has confidence in the city’s leadership and hopefully that will result in greater support.”

Laura Carno, a conservative political operative who lives in Monument and opposed the city’s 2C roads tax measure in 2015, might sit this one out, she says, adding she knows of no organized effort to defeat the fee.

[Douglas Bruce], though, is putting together a “true grassroots organization,” though he himself cannot vote, because he remains on probation for a felony tax-evasion conviction that is under appeal.

Bruce also plans to write a statement against the measure, though the city is not required to mail Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights notices to voters, since those are required only for tax hikes, not fee questions.

Bruce says he’ll target the flat rate in his campaign, noting, “The idea that Suthers’s campaign donors who live in mansions in the Broadmoor [area] don’t have to pay any more than grandma in her trailer, that’s an abomination.”

Notably, the city’s now-defunct stormwater fee charged fees based on impervious surface, meaning those that contributed most to the runoff problem, such as owners of large homes and businesses and parking lots, paid more. The city’s Stormwater Enterprise was shut down in 2011, after fees were suspended in late 2009 as a result of a ballot measure Bruce wrote that called for ending “the rain tax.”

Denver councillors move Platte to Park Hill project forward

Storm drain and open channel improvements between the East Rail Line (38th & Blake Station) and the South Platte River (Globeville Landing Outfall), Stormwater detention/conveyance between the East Rail Line (38th & Blake Station) and Colorado Blvd, (Montclair Basin)
Stormwater detention/ conveyance immediately east of Colorado Blvd. (Park Hill Basin).

From The Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

The vote [August 14, 2017 was 10-3, with councilmembers Rafael Espinoza, Paul Kashmann and Debbie Ortega the three “no” votes.

The project aims to reduce the potential for flooding in Denver’s northern neighborhoods, from Globeville, Elyria and Swansea to northwestern Park Hill. The projects are designed to capture and funnel the water from the neighborhoods to the South Platte River.

But critics of the interconnected projects say their sole purpose is to aid the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) $1.2 billion initiative to expand I-70 on Denver’s northern flank.

CDOT officials have said the I-70 project, which includes ripping out a 50-year-old viaduct and adding a tolled express lane to each direction of the highway between I-25 and Chambers Road, has its own set of flood-mitigation elements. Those elements will be built, but might be reduced in size due to Denver’s projects, according to the agency.

Critics of the I-70 project, including those who have filed lawsuits, say halting the project may force the state to shift the highway’s route further to the north. CDOT said it looked at what’s called the “reroute option” and found it would cost more than $3 billion, farm more than the Central 70 project, and clog the surface streets of north Denver with traffic.

Kashmann, one of the no votes, said he believes Denver’s drainage project and CDOT’s I-70 project “are tightly interwoven, and the city is far more than an interested party.”

Kashman said he believes CDOT is saving money on the Central 70 project by having the city do the Platte to Park Hill project.

Espinoza said the project helps CDOT while harming City Park Golf Course, which will be redesigned with a larger detention pond on the west side as part of the Platte to Park Hill effort.

“If you vote for this, you’re saying to vote for the priorities of CDOT over this asset [City Park Golf Course],” he said.

But halting the Platte to Park Hill project won’t halt the Central 70 project, Councilman Paul López said.

Nor would a “no” vote lead CDOT to decide to reroute I-70 traffic onto other highways further north, he said.

“If you vote no on this, it won’t bring back the reroute [option],” López said.

Nor would a no vote eliminate the risk of flooding in the neighborhoods, Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman noted.

Councilwoman Stacie Gilmore said the project’s planned redesign of the City Parks Golf Course will bring native landscaping to the course. The councilwoman is the target of an ethics complaint, over her vote on Aug. 7 in favor of the contracts, due to her marriage to a city parks official…

City Park Golf Course, as it exists today, is “a human-created, overwatered ecosystem” devoted to non-native turf grass, Gilmore said.

After the project “the landscape will be more sustainable, with wetland areas to help filter stormwater runoff and contaminants in the water. We’ll improve on the non-native environment,” Gilmore said.

Councilman Wayne New said he appreciated the project’s flood mitigation efforts — but, “putting on his golfer’s hat” — said the improvements to the golf course also are important.

“City Park Golf Course needs to be improved,” New said. “It has beautiful views of our city, but it can be something that is notable. It’s a good public golf course, but it can be more.”

The city contracts approved Monday were:

  • A three-year, $6 million, on-call program management contract between the city and Parsons Transportation Group to design and build drainage improvements at the City Park Golf Course and in Park Hill at 39th Avenue.
  • A $7.6 million, one-year contract with Flatiron Constructors Inc to install a 84-inch storm drainage pipe and 24-inch sanitary pipe from 48th Avenue and Dahlia Street to approximately 360 feet north of Smith Road and Dahlia Street.
  • A $44.99 million, three-year contract with Saunders Construction LLC to design and build improvements to the City Park Golf Course.
  • Update: Big Thompson restoration project

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    From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

    This stretch of the Big Thompson River, from the Jasper Lake bridge to just before the Cherry Cider Store, was scoured and severely changed during the 2013 floods. It was left too wide and entrenched, with vegetation ripped away from the banks.

    The new face of the river has a narrower channel with more areas along the banks for waters to disperse in the event of another flood.

    It has large boulders specifically placed to control the flow of the water and to create pools for fish habitat.

    There are large trees that extend from under the banks into the river, stabilizing the bank, preventing erosion and creating habitat.

    And trees, forbes and shrubs were strategically planted, again to stabilize the banks, prevent erosion and create shade and habitat.

    “We’ve really made it look like a river again,” said Shayna Jones, watershed coordinator with the Big Thompson Watershed Coalition.

    The goal was to mix several different restoration techniques — the planting, the rocks, the tree trunks — to improve the river while keeping it natural, which from the look of the river is mission accomplished.

    “It’s a really good mix of types of restoration,” added Jones.

    Even the planting is mixed for diversity and meticulously planned out. The project team chose all native vegetation and placed different shrubs, trees, forbes and grasses in different zones along the banks. The willows, live stands transplanted from the river corridor nearby, are close to and in some spots in the water, while pine trees are further away up the shore.

    The trees and shrubs are planted in clumps to mirror nature, not in neat rows as a gardener would do.

    Much of the vegetation was transplanted from the natural surroundings, while other plants were specifically grown by the Colorado State Forest Service for river restoration.

    This project is among five already completed by the Big Thompson Watershed Coalition and its partners, which have more planned this year in the Big Thompson as do other entities like the city of Loveland and Colorado Department of Transportation.

    The recently completed work, called the Jasper Lake project, spans a half mile of the river on both the north and south sides of the highway and crosses private, Larimer County and U.S. Forest Service land.

    It cost $800,000 with the money coming from a mixture of federal, state and private sources, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Department of Local Affairs, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Rocky Mountain Flycasters and the Trout and Salmon Foundation.

    Though the river project abuts Narrows Park, that piece of public land has not yet been restored. Owned by Larimer County, that park will serve as the site of a temporary bridge crossing the river while the county replaces the Jasper Lake Bridge this fall, so restoration is planned by the county after that bridge project, according to officials involved with the restoration project.

    The Big Thompson Watershed Coalition worked with contractors and several partners, including private landowners, on this project. Walsh said one of the greatest parts was to meet the people, to listen about the river’s past and to explain the new, healthier river that was being created.

    @EPAScottPruitt tours the #GoldKingMine

    On April 7, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed adding the “Bonita Peak Mining District” to the National Priorities List, making it eligible for Superfund. Forty-eight mine portals and tailings piles are “under consideration” to be included. The Gold King Mine will almost certainly be on the final list, as will the nearby American Tunnel. The Mayflower Mill #4 tailings repository, just outside Silverton, is another likely candidate, given that it appears to be leaching large quantities of metals into the Animas River. What Superfund will entail for the area beyond that, and when the actual cleanup will begin, remains unclear.
    Eric Baker

    From The Denver Post (Jesse Paul):

    Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt says his agency “walked away” from Colorado after the Gold King Mine spill under the Obama administration, vowing Friday to make a federal cleanup of the Gold King and other abandoned mines around Silverton a priority…

    Pruitt visited the site Friday with a delegation of Colorado’s top politicians on the eve of the two-year anniversary of the EPA-triggered disaster. He said that he planned to meet with private citizens impacted by the spill, as well as local leaders, to get first-hand information on his agency’s response.

    “I’ve already sent out a letter to all the claimants who have filed claims asking them to resubmit,” Pruitt told The Denver Post in a phone interview ahead of his visit to the Gold King. “Some of those folks I’m sure I’ll meet today, and I’m looking forward to speaking with them directly. Farmers and ranchers, business owners, the recreational activities that occur on the Animas River — all were impacted, and from my perspective it was a wrong that we need to make right.”

    Remediation will take place at the scores of sites that have leeched millions of gallons of heavy metal-laden water from the Gold King and surrounding mines, Pruitt said, despite President Donald Trump’s proposed funding cuts to the EPA’s Superfund cleanup program. Silverton’s leaders have expressed concern about the EPA’s efforts taking too long or being delayed indefinitely.

    “I can absolutely commit that this will be a priority,” Pruitt said. “I’ve shared with Congress that if money is a concern about fulfilling our responsibilities under Superfund, I will advise them.”

    Pruitt said he is working to create a list of 10 Superfund sites — of the more than 1,300 nationwide — for the EPA to focus on.

    “I don’t know yet (if the Gold King and surrounding mines will be on that list),” he said. “We are evaluating all of the sites right now. Either way, it is going to be a priority.”

    From the Associated Press via The Fort Collins Coloradoan:

    The Environmental Protection Agency will reconsider whether to pay farmers, business owners and others in three states for economic losses caused by a mine waste spill that government crews accidentally triggered in 2015, the agency’s leader said Friday during a visit to the site.

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who toured Gold King Mine with Colorado lawmakers on the eve of the disaster’s second anniversary, said he told people to resubmit claims rejected under the Obama administration. It’s not clear if the agency could pay on its own or how much of the potential payouts would need to be approved by Congress…

    The EPA has designated the area a Superfund site to pay for a broad cleanup…

    Pruitt, who had promised to visit the mine during his confirmation hearing earlier this year, said he has sent letters to people whose claims were rejected by former President Barack Obama’s EPA.

    In January, the agency said federal law prevented it from paying claims because of sovereign immunity, which prohibits most lawsuits against the government…

    It’s uncertain whether the White House and Congress, both controlled by Republicans, are willing to pay for any of the economic losses, although the GOP has been most vocal in demanding the EPA make good.

    It’s not clear how much money would be at stake in a new round of claims.

    Claims for $1.2 billion in lost income, property damage and personal injuries were initially filed with the EPA, but attorneys for some of the larger claimants later reduced the amounts they were seeking. A review by The Associated Press estimated the damages sought at $420 million.

    The EPA has spent more than $31.3 million on the spill, including remediation work, water testing and payments to state, local and tribal agencies.

    The agency said last year it would pay $4.5 million to state, local and tribal governments to cover the cost of their emergency response to the spill, but it rejected $20.4 million in other requests for past and future expenses, again citing federal law.

    From CBS Denver (Rick Sallinger):

    In an interview with CBS4’s Matt Kroeshel, [U.S. Senator Michael] Bennet said, “Having designation as Superfund site is only one step in the process. We need to make sure the resources are put into there to do the remediation that’s required at the site.”

    The environmental mess that flowed from the Gold King Mine could happen again. Its owner Hennis says an adjacent mine is filled with even more toxic liquids.

    When asked, “Could we have another disaster?” Hennis replied, “Absolutely and it would be a thousand times worse than Gold King.”


    Sen. Gardner echoed that this is not a one time only problem, “Not just Gold King, we are talking about a handful of mines around the West that pose a threat to our environment and our community.”

    Drake: Big Thompson Memorial Service Monday, July 31, 2017, 7:00 PM

    Looking west into the narrows after the Big Thompson Flood July 31, 1976

    From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Kevin Duggan):

    The annual commemoration of the 1976 Big Thompson Flood is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the site of a flood memorial one mile east of Drake Road on U.S. Highway 34.

    The flash flood of July 31, 1976, in the Big Thompson Canyon took 144 lives, making it the worst natural disaster in Colorado’s history.

    The memorial service will include speakers, music, announcement of academic scholarships to relatives of flood victims, and light refreshments. Participants should bring a lawn chair for their comfort.

    Information: http://www.1976bigthompsonflood.org