Posted on July 26, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
July 30 site visit gives public a chance to see progress in $3 million remediation project at abandoned mine in Summit County
Heavy metal pollution from upstream sources has killed most aquatic life in the Snake River, near Keystone, Colorado. bberwyn photo.
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FRISCO — With recent increases in levels of toxic metals in Peru Creek, the ongoing remediation work at the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine, near Keystone, Colo., takes on an even greater importance in the context of water quality in the Blue River Basin and the Upper Colorado.
The mine, which produced huge amounts of silver 100 years ago, has been pinpointed as one of the main sources of acid mine drainage. Water seeping through the rocky ground trickles into the old mine workings, picks up contaminants along the way, then percolates back into Peru Creek near the head of the beautiful alpine valley.
During the last couple of summers, scientists and engineers have been working to reduce the pollution, and this coming week (July 30) there will be a public field trip to the site, led by Jeff Graves of the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety, as well as other members of the Snake River Task Force. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, rivers, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news, water, water quality | Tagged: abandoned mine cleanups, acid mine drainage, Environment, EPA, Pennsylvania Mine, Peru Creek, Snake River, Summit County News | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 25, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Satellite data suggests more than 75 percent of water loss in drought-stricken basin is from groundwater pumping
A new study quantifies groundwater depletion in the Colorado River Basin. Map courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Groundwater pumping is a huge factor in the Colorado River Basin water equation, California-based researchers said this week, announcing the results of satellite study that for the first time quantifies how groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states.
Along with surface diversions and pipelines, water users in the basin are also unsustainably depleting underground aquifers. For example, mountain resort towns in Colorado tap underground water from headwaters streams like Tenmile Creek and the Blue River for municipal use.
The new study found that more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought, the researchers concluded. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, Colorado, Colorado River, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Colorado River Basin, drought, groundwater depletion | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 10, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Colorado business community weighs in on water principles
FRISCO — Vail and Eagle County residents will have a chance to get up to speed on an emerging state water plan today (July 10), with a lunchtime briefing at Donovan Pavilion in Vail, 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered work to begin on the statewide water plan in May 2013; a draft is due to the Governor’s Office no later than Dec. 10, 2014, with the final plan complete by December 2015.
Business leaders have developed statewide business community water policy principles to be part of Colorado’s Water Plan and are seeking regional input to finalize the principles. Working through local business chambers, this statewide initiative seeks local feedback on the principles, which address the business and economic development needs of Colorado.
- Tom Binnings of Summit Economics will discuss the economics of water from a statewide perspective.
- Linn Brooks of Eagle River Water & Sanitation District will share local water operations and policy, and discuss needs in the Eagle and Colorado River basins.
- James Eklund, executive director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board – the state agency tasked with drafting the Colorado Water Plan.
- Bryan Blakely of Accelerate Colorado and Mizraim Cordero of the Colorado Competitive Council will discuss the business community water policy principles.
Filed under: Colorado, Colorado River, Environment, politics, rivers, water, water quality | Tagged: Colorado, Colorado River, Eagle River, state water plan, Vail, water | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 23, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
More water from the West Slope? Not the best idea, says the U.S. Forest Service. bberwyn photo.
Current plan underestimates impacts to water and wildlife
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — As currently spelled out, Denver Water’s plan to divert more water from the headwaters of the Colorado River will result in unacceptable impacts to wildlife and other resources on publicly owned national forest lands, the U.S. Forest Service wrote in a June 9 comment letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Forest Service also wrote that the creation of a pool of environmental water in an expanded Gross Reservoir doesn’t compensate for the loss of two acres of wetlands and 1.5 miles of stream habitat that will be lost as a result of the expansion. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, public lands, rivers, US Forest Service, water | Tagged: Colorado, Forest Service, Moffat Tunnel collection system expansion, water | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 22, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Proposed new water rule in the works for western ski areas
Oh, oh, the water … bberwyn photo.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — After being bullied by the ski industry in court and legislative arenas, the U.S. Forest Service has decided to shift its approach to administering valuable water rights associated with ski area operations in western states.
Instead of requiring resorts to transfer water rights, the Forest Service now proposes adding language to ski area permits that would ensure that enough water remains linked to ensure future operations. The water rights could not be sold separately from other resort assets like chairlifts and lodges.
That would address the main concern the Forest Service voiced when it first proposed changes to the administration of water rights a few years ago, but doesn’t address the bigger issue of resorts trying to establish total control over public resources. Continue reading
Filed under: commentary, Environment, op-ed, rivers, ski industry, water | Tagged: Forest Service, public lands, ski areas, water rights | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 19, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
EPA raises questions about compliance with Clean Water Act
Denver Water plans to increase transmountain diversions through the Moffat collection system is not drawing rave reviews, as numerous entities have expressed significant concerns about impacts to water quality. bberwyn photo.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — For all the detailed information in the 16,000-page study for Denver Water’s proposed new water diversions from the Western Slope, there are still more questions than answers, according to formal comment letters filed in the past few weeks.
As currently configured, the proposal to shunt more water from Colorado River headwaters streams to the Front Range could worsen water water quality in many streams that are already feeling the pain of low flows, EPA water experts wrote in a June 9 letter. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Colorado River, Environment, rivers, water, water quality, wetlands | Tagged: #Cowater, Colorado, Denver Water, EPA, Moffat Tunnel collection system expansion, water | 2 Comments »
Posted on June 6, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Snake River melt-off.
Gov. Hickenlooper vetoes measure that could have benefited all Colorado water users, including the environment
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Colorado’s old-school water buffaloes are more than willing to pay lip service to conservation, but when they actually have a chance to walk the walk … well, it’s business as usual.
Bowing to pressure from agricultural users, Gov. John Hickenlooper this week vetoed a bill that would have encouraged voluntary conservation measures and given incentives for private investment in conservation. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Colorado, John Hickenlooper, Senate Bill 23, water, water buffaloes, water conservation | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 6, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Boulder County gets high-level backup on request for comment period extension on major new transmountain water diversion
Will the public get more time to review and comment on the final environmental study for the largest proposed water project in years?
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Boulder County’s request for more time to comment on the proposed Moffat Tunnel Collection System expansion got some high-level backup this week, as Sen. Michael Bennet formally asked the federal government for an extension.
Denver Water’s proposed new diversions from Colorado River headwaters in Grand County, specifically the Fraser River, are under federal scrutiny as the Corps considers issuing a permit for the enlargement of Gross Reservoir in Boulder County. The federal agency released the final version of a massive environmental study in April, setting a June 9 deadline for comment.
The agency received about 400 requests for an extension, many of them via a form letter. Boulder County also requested an extension, citing the need for more time to read the detailed technical reports and other documents that are part of the study, but regional Corps of Engineer Commander Joel Cross decided not to provide more time. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Colorado River, Environment, politics, rivers, water | Tagged: Colorado, Denver Water, Environment, Moffat Tunnel collection system expansion, water | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 31, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
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Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, forests, rivers, water | Tagged: Colorado, crowdfunding, Environment, journalism | 2 Comments »
Posted on May 26, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Colorado water wars may heat up as feds refuse to extend comment period Denver Water’s plan to gulp yet more water from the Colorado River. bberwyn photo.
Massive environmental study hard to digest in just 45 days
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — If you were hoping to comment on the entire massive environmental study for Denver Water’s proposal to divert yet more water from the Colorado River to the Front Range, it’s time for some some speed reading.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said last week that there will be no extension of the formal comment period despite a slew of requests for more time. And it’s not just environmental groups that asked for an extension. Boulder County, where there will be major impacts from the expansion of Gross Reservoir, requested more time to comb through thousands of pages of technical reports and data, but to no avail. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Colorado River, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Colorado, Denver Water, Environment, Fraser River, water | Leave a comment »