Venetucci Farm suspends sales over water concerns — KOAA

Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.
Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.

From KOAA (Jessi Mitchell):

Venetucci Farm announced it would suspend the sale of its produce due to concerns over contamination in the Widefield aquifer.

The farm pumps its water from a well attached to the aquifer, and it was among the first properties to be tested for contamination. Those results are still pending, which led to Friday’s decision.

The EPA’s latest advisory level for PFCs is equivalent to one teaspoon of chemical in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools. It may not sound like a lot, but in drinking water there are proven health impacts. Scientists are still studying fruits and vegetables grown with the water, but restaurants like Tapateria in Old Colorado City are hoping for the best.

“I think we just had some beets in about two weeks ago,” says Tapateria chef Jay Gust of his dealings with Venetucci Farm. He gets much of his meat and produce from southern Colorado growers.

“There’s been a huge push in getting local farmers into restaurants and I think it’s great and we definitely need it,” says Gust. “We need more of it, and hopefully this is just a mild speed bump and get back on track and just keep on pushing local cuisine.”

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers tell Venetucci managers it could be up to two more months before there are any conclusive answers showing just how many, if any, PFCs show up in fruits and vegetables grown on the farm. So far, the EPA only advises pregnant and breastfeeding women to avoid drinking contaminated water, but there are no advisories for food at this point.

The farm’s owner, Pikes Peak Community Foundation, is acting in an abundance of caution. CEO Gary Butterworth says, “The concern was in our distribution to restaurants that we would not be able to communicate that, convey that to the end user, so we have not been providing products to restaurants directly for a period of time.”

Here’s the release from the Pikes Peak Community Foundation:

The Pikes Peak Community Foundation (PPCF) has decided to temporarily suspend sales and distribution of Venetucci Farm products until results from water, soil and produce testing are complete.
Venetucci Farm draws its irrigation water from the Widefield Aquifer, which recently was deemed to have exceeded health advisory limits for perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) levels by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“While we do not believe there are any health risks associated with the consumption of Venetucci Farm products, it is with the best interest of the community in mind that we have decided to temporarily suspend sales and distribution of our products while we gather additional information and data,” said Gary Butterworth, CEO of the PPCF. “We are awaiting more conclusive water, produce and soil test results to inform our decisions moving forward. We feel this precautionary measure is the best course of action based on the information we have today.”

The Foundation will continue to work with officials in Widefield, Security, Fountain, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the El Paso County Public Health Department as these agencies and municipalities gather additional data.

ABOUT VENETUCCI FARM
Located on the southwestern edge of Colorado Springs, this historic 190-acre urban farm, known as the “Pumpkin Farm” was established by the Venetucci Family in 1936. In later years, Nick and Bambi Venetucci were known for giving away thousands of pumpkins each fall to area school children.
Wanting to preserve this valuable piece of land as a farm, the Venetuccis put it into conservancy and gifted it to the Pikes Peak Community Foundation in 2006. Thanks to the generosity of the Venetucci Family and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, Venetucci Farm is a working farm committed to growing healthy food and providing positive experiences for the Colorado Springs community.

ABOUT PIKES PEAK COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
The Pikes Peak Community Foundation (PPCF) was founded in 1996. The Foundation creates custom-designed charitable gift funds for individuals, families, and businesses, including donor-advised funds, donor-designated funds, endowment funds, memorial funds, and scholarship funds, providing flexible and inexpensive alternatives to setting up private or family foundations. PPCF also makes grants to support nonprofit organizations and community projects for the benefit of our community and stewards Venetucci Farm and Aspen Valley Ranch. For more information, visit http://PPCF.org.

#Colorado Springs: “Sustainable stormwater funding and management is not optional” — John Suthers

coloradospringsstormwaterimplementationplan072016cover

Click here to read the plan.

Here’s the release from the City of Colorado Springs:

The City of Colorado Springs today released the draft Stormwater Program Improvement Plan designed to dramatically improve the city’s infrastructure and meet federal requirements.

City Public Works Director Travis Easton provided this statement.

“Today the City of Colorado Springs has released a draft Stormwater Improvement Plan. This is significant for our stormwater program, our citizens, and our City. The draft Stormwater Program Improvement Plan reflects strong leadership by the Mayor and City Council. We began this effort last fall and we reached a preliminary draft in January. Today’s release includes updates through July 2016.

“The City’s Public Works Department would appreciate the public’s comments and suggestions for improvement of the plan over the next 60 days. We will take public input into account and release the Plan in final form shortly thereafter.

“Thank you in advance for helping to shape this plan, and being a part of the process.”

Individuals wishing to provide feedback on the plan can contact Richard Mulledy, the City’s Stormwater Division Manager at stormwater@springsgov.com or by mail to: Richard Mulledy, Stormwater Division Manager, City of Colorado Springs, 30 S. Nevada Avenue, Suite 401, Colorado Springs, CO 80901.

The City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities have committed to investing a total of $460 million over 20 years, beginning this year. The commitments essentially replace the city Stormwater Enterprise that was defunded in 2009.

“Fixing the stormwater issues that we inherited stemming from the dissolution of the stormwater enterprise has been a top priority for me and the City Council,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. “Sustainable stormwater funding and management is not optional – it is something that we must do to protect our waterways, serve our downstream neighbors, and meet the legal requirements of a federal permit.”

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Colorado Springs this week released its draft stormwater plan, which was spurred earlier this year by negotiations with Pueblo County commissioners over permits for the Southern Delivery System.

The 305-page implementation plan mirrors the terms of an intergovernmental agreement, outlining at least $460 million in expenditures over the next 20 years and restructuring the city’s stormwater department. It was released Wednesday on the city’s website (http://coloradosprings.gov).

It’s important to Pueblo because work within Colorado Springs is expected to reduce damage along Fountain Creek.
Work already has started on some of the projects that are expected to benefit Pueblo County as well as Colorado Springs. A total of 61 of the 71 critical projects have downstream benefits to Pueblo and other communities, in a March assessment that included input from Wright Water Engineers, which has been hired by Pueblo County as consultant for Fountain Creek issues.

That list can change, depending on annual reviews of which work is needed, according to the IGA.

The plan also attempts to satisfy state and federal assessments that the existing stormwater services failed to meet minimum conditions of the city’s stormwater permits. An Environmental Protection Agency audit last year found Colorado Springs had made no progress on improving stormwater control in more than two years.

This year, Colorado Springs formed a new stormwater division and plans on doubling the size of its stormwater staff.

The plan includes a funding commitment of $20 million annually by the city and $3 million per year by Colorado Springs Utilities to upgrade creek crossings of utility lines.

The plan acknowledges that Colorado Springs significantly cut staff and failed to maintain adequate staffing levels after City Council eliminated the city’s stormwater enterprise in 2009. Pueblo County suffered significant damage, including the washout of part of Overton Road and excess debris in the Fountain Creek channel through Pueblo, during prolonged flows last May.

Other parts of the Pueblo County IGA expedited funding for flood control studies and projects by the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District, as well as providing an additional $3 million for dredging in Pueblo.

#Colorado Springs to spend $460 million on Storm Water Improvement Plan — KRDO

Channel erosion Colorado Springs July 2012 via The Pueblo Chieftain
Channel erosion Colorado Springs July 2012 via The Pueblo Chieftain

From KRDO:

The city of Colorado Springs plans to spend around $460 million over the next 20 years on its Storm Water Improvement Plan.

To see the plan, click here

The city is asking anyone in the community that has suggestions or comments regarding this plan to contact Richard Mulledy, the City’s Stormwater Division Manager at rmulledy@ springsgov.com or by mail to: Richard Mulledy, Stormwater Division Manager, City of Colorado Springs, 30 S. Nevada Avenue, Suite 401, Colorado Springs, CO 80901.

Arkansas Basin Roundtable approves grant application for Fountain Creek flood control alternatives

Fountain Creek erosion via The Pueblo Chieftain
Fountain Creek erosion via The Pueblo Chieftain

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Flood control alternatives for Fountain Creek would be studied under a grant approved this week by the Arkansas Basin Roundtable.

“It will look at storage alternatives and determine a preferred alternative for future needs,” said Larry Small, executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.

The district is seeking $93,000 in Water Supply Reserve Account grants through the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The board will vote on the application in September. The district will add $40,000 in local funds to the study.

The U.S. Geological Survey completed a study in December 2013 of 13 alternatives that would reduce the impact of a major flood on Pueblo, determining either a dam or series of detention ponds along Fountain Creek between Pueblo and Colorado Springs would be the best solution.

Last year, it completed a study that showed agricultural water rights downstream could be met through augmentation. Fountain Creek is the only drainage in the state not covered by a 72-hour store-andrelease law (SB212) passed last year by the state Legislature, Small explained.

Small assured some roundtable members that the protection of ag water rights would remain prominent, saying farmers have been invited to participate in past studies.

“We would keep the dialog open through the entire flood control study,” Small said.

Among the factors to be considered are the cost of projects and their ability to contain floods of four different magnitudes: 10-, 50-, 100- and 500-year floods.

The study also will evaluate where flood control structures should be located, what sort of property would need to be acquired and which permits are needed. It would evaluate the costs and benefits as well.
There would also be the opportunity to see if other storage needs, as identified in Colorado’s Water Plan and the basin implementation plan, could be filled. Those include municipal, agricultural and wildlife habitat purposes.

Public Invited to Discuss Progress on Monument Creek Watershed Restoration Planning

Monument Creek, taken looking south from the northern section of Monument Valley Park via Loraxis
Monument Creek, taken looking south from the northern section of Monument Valley Park via Loraxis

Here’s the release from Colorado Springs Utilities:

The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District will hold its second round of public open houses to present information on the Monument Creek Watershed Restoration Master Plan project and to collect input from the public. The public will have an opportunity to learn about analysis results to date and provide input on alternatives being considered to mitigate flooding and erosion issues within the study area.

Please join the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District, the City of Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado Springs Utilities and the United States Air Force Academy at public information open houses regarding flood restoration and mitigation planning within the Monument Creek Watershed.

The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District has received funding from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to investigate restoration planning options for the Monument Creek Watershed. Several of the creeks within the watershed suffered from extensive flooding during the summer and fall of 2013, as well as from the recent Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires. El Paso County, the City of Colorado Springs, the United States Air Force Academy and other regional municipalities and agencies have undertaken various projects to mitigate the risk and maintain the proper flow and water levels in the main stem of Monument Creek and a number of tributaries. The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District has organized the public stakeholders to coordinate the restoration planning and implementation of projects to restore the Monument Creek Watershed to a resilient and naturally-stable condition and mitigate the risk of future flooding.

Two open house meetings will be held in July 2016 in ADA-accessible facilities. Each meeting will address the alternatives being considered for restoring the watershed.

Public Invited to Discuss Progress on Monument Creek Watershed Restoration Planning
OPEN HOUSE DATES:
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
5 to 7 p.m.
Discovery Canyon Campus, Middle School Library 1810 North Gate Blvd.
Colorado Springs, CO 80921

Thursday, July 21, 2016
4to6p.m.
Rockrimmon Library, Meeting Room 832 Village Center Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80919

A Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD/TTY) is available to the public at each of these meetings by calling 7-1-1 and asked to be connected to 719-447-9012. Persons with disabilities may contact the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District and request reasonable accommodations such as a sign language interpreter by contacting Larry Small or Graham Thompson at the numbers/email addresses below as soon as possible.

For more information contact Larry Small, Executive Director, Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District at (719) 447-5012 (lsmall42@comcast.net) or Graham Thompson, Matrix Design Group at (719) 575-0100 (graham_thompson@matrixdesigngroup.com).

PFC pollution’s 800 pound gorilla — what are the costs for clean up?

Photo via USAF Air Combat Command
Photo via USAF Air Combat Command

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jakob Rodgers):

Government agencies are just beginning to scratch the surface of costs incurred by a frustratingly hardy, toxic chemical polluting waterways across the U.S.

Air Force officials already expect to spend more than $400 million to study the chemical’s use in a firefighting foam at nearly 200 sites and replace it. Peterson Air Force Base and the Air Force Academy are on that list.

And on a local level, officials for water districts serving Security, Widefield and Fountain say they also may have to pay millions of dollars upgrading their water systems over the next few years to filter it out of tap water.

The tabs are expected to grow, and they don’t include costs associated with cleanup efforts. In one such project, the Air Force will pay $4.3 million to help filter well water across southeast El Paso County.

Nor does that tally include similar assessment efforts being conducted by the Navy and Army as well as clean up efforts in many other communities across the nation. One such study at Fort Carson had yet to start as of Wednesday.

All of it is for a chemical that the Environmental Protection Agency says may cause health ailments at levels no greater than a drop of water in a string of railroad tank cars 10 miles long.

“The fact that it doesn’t go away – it doesn’t degrade naturally, it stays in the environment – is a cause for concern,” said Daniel Medina, who is heading up the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s response.

The substance, called perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, remains unregulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. However, the EPA has grown increasingly concerned about the substance.

In May, the EPA’s health advisory level dropped to 70 parts per trillion – leaving every well used by water districts in Security, Widefield and Fountain above the new limit.

The advisory was tailored to ensure it protected the most sensitive population – in this case, developing fetuses and breast-fed and bottle-fed infants. That means people using water below that level should not expect health effects, even if drinking that water over a lifetime, state and federal health officials said at a town hall Thursday.

Communities across the U.S. are grappling with the chemical.

To mitigate residents’ exposure here, local water officials have relied more heavily on surface water pumped in from the Pueblo Reservoir.

Doing so has limited the number of people receiving contaminated tap water to 10,000 to 15,000, said Tyson Ingels, with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Water Quality Control Division.

Officials running local water districts are working to drop that number to zero, though it may take time. Projects underway or in development are unlikely to change how many people receive PFC-laden water this summer, water district officials say (see accompanying report).

In the meantime, people receiving water above the EPA’s new limit should consider other water sources – especially women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as infants, a Colorado health department official said Thursday.

The exact source of the PFCs in the Widefield aquifer remains unclear, though an Air Force official recently said that the chemicals possibly originated at Peterson Air Force Base.

From 1970 through the mid-1990s, firefighters at the base used a type of foam laden with the chemicals while training to extinguish high-intensity fires, such as during plane crashes.

Ever since then, firefighter have trained using water in a lined basin. It still has the firefighting foam that contains PFCs, but it is only used in emergency situations, Medina said.

The Air Force has spent more than $137 million through Thursday as part of an effort to study 191 sites across the nation where the foam is believed to have been used, Medina said. They include active duty and National Guard installations, as well as decommissioned bases.

So far, assessments have been completed at 96 percent of those sites, he said.

The Air Force also expects to spend another $271 million incinerating that foam and replacing it with another substance, Medina said. That effort is underway at Peterson, base officials said.

The price tag is expected to grow as more thorough assessments are ordered across the nation.

At Peterson, for example, officials plan to drill monitoring wells to pinpoint the source, and a draft report is due in March 2017.

Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.
Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.

Triview Metropolitan District enacts emergency water restrictions

Water infrastructure as sidewalk art
Water infrastructure as sidewalk art

From KOAA.com (Andy Koen):

Neighboring water districts in the Monument area sending help to the Triview Metro District which enacted emergency restrictions Tuesday amid an unexpected water shortage.

The Town of Monument notified residents via Facebook that the Donala Water District, which has a connection with Triview, will open their line temporarily to help during the shortage. The Town of Monument does not have a direct connection with Triview, but manager Chris Howe said they will send some utility workers to help where needed.

Triview District Manager Valerie Remington said the district noticed a spike in demand in mid-June. There was another peak on Monday diminishing the water supply to an emergency level.

Remington said there were no obvious signs of a major pipe break. They have not filed a report of a water theft with local law enforcement, but Remington said they have not ruled out the possibility.

“We haven’t ruled out any of the different possibilities right now,” she said. “I can’t say, since we don’t know what it is, I can’t say what it is what else I can’t say what it isn’t.”

Triview recently charged a transmission line to service the new Sanctuary Point development. Remington said no houses have been built there and the district ruled out that line a source of the sudden drop in supply.

Under the emergency restrictions, customers are prohibited from outdoor watering. Customers who violate the restriction will be warned on their first offense. Second offenses carry a $50 fine, third offenses a $500 fine and all subsequent offenses will be fined $750.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Kaitlin Durbin):

Outside watering is suspended for Monument residents.

Following a period of high usage, the Triview Metropolitan District has restricted outside watering “until further notice,” according to its website.

“We are continuing to experience a water problem and are asking that all residents stop outside watering until we are able to correct the issue,” the district said.

According to Gazette news partner KKTV, a spike in use around the holiday is to blame.

The district said demand among its 4,200 customers has risen to about 2 million gallons of water per day. Just one of the district’s eight wells has the capacity to pump 1.8 million gallons of water each day, KKTV reported.

“The restrictions went into place on July 4 as we noticed that our tank levels were always getting lower and we were having trouble recovering,” District Manager Valerie Remington told KKTV.