Salida receives loan forgiveness from #Colorado

Salida water park

From The Mountain Mail (Brian McCabe):

Salida will receive $666,069.72 in loan forgiveness for its $1,505,000 loan from the Colorado Water Protective and Development Association for the city’s ultraviolet disinfection compliance project, City Administrator Guy Patterson announced in the Tuesday city council meeting.

“The CWPDA had a unique situation last year where a sizable amount of design and engineering grant money was not utilized,” Patterson wrote in a report to the council.

“The fact that Salida was the first community to execute the loan in 2017 and the disadvantaged community status made us eligible for disbursement of the funds, along with several other communities.”

“This is very fortunate for the community to be recognized like this and get the grants,” Mayor Jim LiVecchi said. “We were trying to do what we could to get this project paid for without having to raise water rates or spend taxpayer money.”

LiVecchi said the city also received $755,000 in an Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Fund grant from the Department of Local Affairs.

Emails from The Mountain Mail to Patterson, Public Works Director David Lady and Finance Director Jana Loomey about the project went unanswered.

The Mountain Mail asked city officials the following questions:

•The loan from the CWPDA was for $1,505,000, the loan forgiveness was $666,069.72, leaving the remaining loan amount at $838,903.28, which knocks off about 44 percent of the loan. How much of this loan has been paid off thus far? Also, there was another loan listed for $120,000. Does that mean the total cost of the UV project was $1,625,000, or was it more?

•It was stated that because the loan was passed under an emergency measure to keep construction costs within a single fiscal year, the water and wastewater funds will lose their enterprise fund status for 2018. Does this still apply with the loan forgiveness taken into account?

•Patterson said in his report to council that Salida’s “disadvantaged community status” made the city eligible for the disbursement of the funds “along with several other communities.” What is “disadvantaged community status” and how did Salida qualify? Also, do we know which other communities received funds?

•What is the status of the UV project? Is it finished? If not, what is the basic timeline for completion?
Deputy City Clerk Christian Samora said Wednesday the city will send out a press release in the next day or two.

@GreeleyGov: Water & Sewer Annual Summer Tour, June 30, 2017


Click here to register and read about the event:

The Greeley Water & Sewer Board invites residents to this year’s facility tour to learn more about how water and sewer is treated, where the water comes from, and the various ways water is used. Residents will tour the Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) and Boyd Lake facilities and learn about system exchanges, points of diversion, and non-potable systems. A light breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Those interested in attending should contact Ettie Arnold at 970-350-9812 before June 23. Space is limited.

Get more information about Greeley’s Water System at http://www.greeleygov.com/water.

Merino water treatment plant update

Ashcraft & Brown Building, Merino, Colorado, as it appeared on a 1909 postcard. Image courtesy of Ken Wilson.

From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jeff Rice):

Merino’s water project is about 10 percent completed, but on schedule and running well so far. That’s the report Jim Wright delivered to the Merino Town Board Monday night during the board’s regular meeting. Wright is the on-site consultant who oversees the day-to-day work on the project.

“It’s going very well and I’m very pleased,” he said.

The town is installing a $2.3 million water treatment facility because of more stringent water quality standards being passed from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The three-phase project — installing a new water supply tank, building a new water treatment facility, and building evaporation ponds to treat the effluent from the reverse osmosis water treatment process – should be finished by mid-July.

Wright told the board there would be no work done on Tuesday because the project is waiting for specialists to install a “hot tap” on the main water line to flush sediment from the system. That should be done Wednesday, he said.

Grading for the pumping station will start soon, he said, and once the building to house the reverse osmosis system is built the project will proceed rapidly.

Fort Collins craft brewers cooperating on water issues

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacob Laxen):

On Tuesday night, Brewater hosted a panel open to the public at New Belgium Brewing.

“We all understand 100 percent how important water is to our product and our community,” said Horse & Dragon Brewing co-owner Carol Cochran.

While Oregon and Washington both have state brewery watershed groups, Brewater is the only formal collection of craft brewers from the same city to collaborate on water conservation issues.

Fort Collins craft brewers collectively use about two percent of town’s water. About half of what the craft breweries use is treated and returned to the Poudre River.

“We feel we need to do our part,” said Katie Wallace, New Belgium’s assistant director of sustainability.

Since Brewater was formed in 2013, equipment redesigns have saved 3 million gallons annually at Odell Brewing, 1 million gallons at New Belgium and 40,000 gallons at 1933 Brewing — which has since closed but has plans to reopen with a new concept under new owners.

“My biggest advice is to challenge your equipment supplier,” said Odell engineer Matt Bailey. “Just because it is out there doesn’t mean it’s the best practice.”

Water conservation tactics in Fort Collins range from New Belgium — the state’s largest craft brewer — having its own water treatment plant and converting some of its used water into electricity, to much smaller operations that do much more simple methods such as tracking beer loss.

“The bigger breweries in town have been fantastic mentors,” Cochran said. “They set a great example.”

And while the Fort Collins craft breweries may compete for sales and tap space, they work together on conserving water.

“We would like to make beer in the future,” said Zach Wilson, the new owner of 1933 Brewing. “So it is really important to be involved now.”

Durango: Fluoride dosing will continue after Tuesday’s vote

Durango

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

Election totals showed about 1,735 people voted for an ordinance that would require the city to stop adding fluoride to its water system, far behind the some 3,094 voters who supported keeping the system in place.

The issue was heatedly contested leading up to Tuesday’s election, with supporters and opponents of water fluoridation disagreeing with the health benefits of the program…

This winter, a petition that called for the city of Durango to stop adding fluoride to its drinking water circulated around town, causing a vitriolic debate over the health benefits of the program.

While advocates of community water fluoridation say it has immeasurable oral health benefits, particularly for low-income residents, opponents say the program is a form of forced medication, and called into question the impacts of consuming too much fluoride, as well as the source of the substance.

Jim Forleo, a local chiropractor who was one of the most vocal anti-fluoride organizers, said the effort, which raised about $4,500 for the campaign, was over-run by big money interests. The pro-fluoride side raised nearly $22,500, mostly from Healthier Colorado, a Denver-based non-profit.

Durango fluoride dosing vote update

Lake Nighthorse and Durango March 2016 photo via Greg Hobbs.

From The Durango Herald (Mary Shinn):

Durango voters are being asked April 4 to decide whether to remove fluoride from the city’s drinking water. Most-recent campaign filings show the pro-fluoride campaign has outraised and outspent its rival committee.

The campaign to preserve fluoride in the water, Healthy Kids Healthy Durango, collected $22,465 in cash and in-kind donations through March 16. The campaign spent $8,769.

Clean Water Durango, the group fighting against water fluoridation, collected $1,045 in cash through March 16 from three people. The group disclosed spending $2,641 through March 16. Much of the spending – $2,462 – was part of an addendum that was not formally added to the donation total.

Bob Lieb, who filed the report and donated to the campaign, said the anti-fluoride campaign plans to raise and spend a total of $5,000, mostly for signage, advertising and informational brochures. He said most of those donations are coming through the campaign’s website.

Lieb said the campaign relies on volunteers, as opposed to the pro-fluoride side, which has hired people to advocate.

“It’s a David and Goliath campaign, no doubt about it,” Lieb said. “And we’re the David. They’ve brought a lot of out-of-town money.”

Most of the donations to the pro-flouride campaign came from Healthier Colorado, a Denver-based nonprofit that contributed $17,340 of in-kind support such as mailings, web marketing and other contributions. The campaign also collected $5,125 in cash donations from 30 individuals – including 11 dentists.

Healthier Colorado is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to improve public health through public policy.

Kate Stigberg, director of activism for Healthier Colorado, said an email from concerned residents in Durango, including oral health professionals, asked the group for help.

The group has been supporting water fluoridation since January 2016 in partnership with Colorado Children’s Campaign, Delta Dental and the Colorado Dental Association.

Across party lines, Western governors see a partner in Pruitt — @COindependent

Colorado abandoned mines

From The High Country News (Elizabeth Shogren) via The Colorado Independent:

Just a few days in office, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency hosted an early Sunday morning breakfast for 11 Western governors. Scott Pruitt told them face-to-face what he’s said repeatedly since he was nominated: Under his leadership, the EPA will defer to states much more than it has in the recent past.

Pruitt made a similar vow to profoundly transform the agency the day before at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). “We’re going to once again pay attention to the states across this country,” Pruitt told a gathering of Republicans. “The future ain’t what it used to be at the EPA.”

This message resonated with the Western governors, regardless of their political affiliations, according to several members of the governors’ staffs. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, a Republican-turned-Independent whose state is 66 percent federal land, was “encouraged by (Pruitt’s) emphasis on state’s rights,” Grace Jang, Walker’s communications director, says.

The Western governors’ unanimity is striking in an era of intense partisanship and reflects the commitment they have to work together through the Western Governors’ Association. The breakfast was an annual event of that group, a rare hub of bipartisanship and consensus building in a polarized nation. The governors are in the midst of a major effort to transform the relationship between the federal and state governments to give them more input into federal regulations.

“The Republican governors were on the same page with their Democratic colleagues in telling Pruitt, we want it to be a partnership,” says John Swartout, senior policy advisor to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. “We haven’t been happy that the EPA hasn’t always treated us as a full partner. We can make progress together.”

As they ate scrambled eggs, bacon, fried potatoes and donuts at a square table in EPA’s Washington, DC, headquarters, the governors one-by-one told Pruitt their priorities. Over the course of two hours, many mentioned their desire to have more sway over federal environmental regulations.

Western governors have collaborated for about 100 years. Their desire to present a unified voice to Washington is driven in part because of the vast amount of federal land in the West, which means decisions made in Washington have acute impacts on their states’ economies. “It’s largely a function of being so distant from Washington and needing to amplify their distant voices,” said Jim Ogsbury, executive director of the group.

In the Western Governors’ Association, the governors focus on shared objectives and pass joint resolutions. In December, for instance, they passed a resolution calling for a greater role in crafting federal regulations and in other decisions by the federal government. Other resolutions present their consensus positions on a wide range of issues, including endangered species, wildfire fire management, invasive species and abandoned mine cleanups.

Western governors from both parties felt the Obama administration’s EPA failed to adequately consult the states as it crafted some important environmental regulations, such as the 2015 Clean Water Rule. (That rule was temporarily blocked in 2015, pending resolution of a court challenge brought by industry groups and 31 states.) “Had the EPA worked with us on the rule upfront it could have been a better rule,” Swartout says. EPA did address some comments the governors made about how the proposed rule impinged on state authority over water management, but not all of them.

Just this week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to launch a rollback of that rule and, until it’s rewritten, limit federal oversight to waterways that are navigable, leaving the rest to the states. Pruitt announced that he would rescind the Obama rule and write a new one that “restores the states’ important role in the regulation of water.”

“We believe (Pruitt’s EPA) will partner with states in a way that’s meaningful; in a way that quite frankly the previous administration did not,” says Nephi Cole, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead’s policy advisor policy.

Many scholars caution that undoing that rule will be particularly detrimental in the arid West, where so many small streams and those that run only intermittently are crucially important for wildlife and water quality and quantity. States tend to be more responsive to local industries, because of the benefits they bring to the economy like jobs and tax revenue.

But Cole argues that it’s a “false narrative” to suggest that giving states more control equates to allowing more pollution and less environmental protection. In another resolution adopted in December, Western governors assert that they want to be the ones to decide how to balance the needs of industry in their states and the requirements of the Clean Water Act.

During the two-hour breakfast, Pruitt spent most of the time listening to governors. (Most years, the secretaries of Interior, Agriculture, Energy and other cabinet members important to Western states attend the breakfast, but as of Sunday, Pruitt was the only one of those who had been confirmed by the Senate.) Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper urged Pruitt to personally engage in the Gold King Mine controversy. A 2015 blowout at the mine unleashed a surge of acid mine drainage down the Animas River. Pruitt committed to visiting Colorado and meeting with local and state officials, Swartout says.
A big priority for some governors is that the EPA continues to negotiate settlements with companies responsible for creating toxic waste sites covered under Superfund.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, urged Pruitt to move forward with the plan to clean up the Portland Harbor, a Superfund site, so the city can revitalize the waterfront and create jobs. She also stressed her state’s continued commitment to fighting climate change, according to her press secretary, Bryan Hockaday.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who heads the Western Governors’ Association, wants Pruitt to keep the pressure on to finally reach a settlement on the Superfund sites in and around Butte, Montana, where historic copper mining and smelting left behind the nation’s largest toxic waste site, according to his press secretary, Marissa Perry. After many years, negotiations between the EPA and Atlantic Richfield Corporation, owned by BP, have picked up steam. Bullock wants to make sure the momentum isn’t lost.

While the Western governors break out of the hyper-partisanship that’s plagued other branches of government and see some opportunity to work with Pruitt, potential major budget cuts to the EPA may give Pruitt a lot less leeway to respond to state needs.

This week, the White House sent agencies an outline of the president’s draft budget that reportedly would gut the EPA’s $8 billion budget, cutting by 30 percent the grants it sends to the states to implement air, water and toxic waste regulations. Pruitt told E&E News that he’s asking the White House to retain more funding for the states to improve air quality, clean up Superfund sites and improve aging water and wastewater infrastructure. Programs slated for zero funding include grants to clean up abandoned industrial sites and funding to bring safe drinking water and sewer systems to Native villages in Alaska, according to the Washington Post. More details on the budget are expected later this month. It’s not clear if the White House can win approval for its vision of a much smaller EPA.

The proof of whether the governors and Pruitt will be able to work together will emerge in coming months, as the Trump administration pursues its agenda and rolls back existing rules. “We’re trying to work with him. We need to work with the federal government,” Swartout says. “It’s too early to know. We have to see how it all plays out. It’s just speculation at this point.”

Correspondent Elizabeth Shogren writes HCN’s DC Dispatches from Washington. This story originally appeared in High Country News on March 3, 2017.