Denver Water to host Gross Reservoir Expansion Project Public Availability Sessions — Wed and Thu

From Denver Water via Twitter and Boulder County:

Denver Water is hosting two Public Availability Sessions this week to encourage residents in the area of Gross Reservoir to come and meet with Denver Water staff to address questions about DW’s Gross Reservoir Expansion Project.

Wednesday, Oct. 7, Noon – 8 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 10. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Location: Coal Creek Canyon Community Center
31528 CO-72, Golden, CO 80403

While not sponsored by Boulder County, the county has offered to spread the word about the meetings as a way for county residents to come have their questions and concerns addressed by Denver Water staff. As one Denver Water official has stated, “We’re very hopeful that this availability session format allows us to talk more directly with individuals about their concerns.”

League of Women Voters of Larimer County comments on the @USACEOmaha #NISP SDEIS

From the League of Women Voters of Larimer County (Sarah Pitts) via the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

As part of its long history of studying and participating in public discussion on water and other environmental issues, the League of Women Voters of Larimer County delivered comments to the Army Corps of Engineers on the second draft environmental impact statement (SDEIS) for the proposed NISP/Glade Reservoir project. The league recommended the Corps defer issuing a permit for the project until the Corps corrects data inadequacies and omissions, addresses compatibility with the draft state water plan, and better defines and quantifies short- and long-term costs related to environmental impacts.

Inadequate data cited by the league include:

•Population growth projections are overstated because they fail to use the reliable and objective data provided by the Colorado State Demography Office.

•Per capita water consumption projections are overstated because they fail to factor in already implemented conservation measures (e.g., Fort Collins reduced per capita consumption from 188 gallons/day in 2003 to 140 now) as well as new and developing conservation initiatives.

•Water supply projections underestimate the potential for acquiring water from annexed farm land, from alternative agricultural transfers, and from growing supplies of reuse water.

•The SDEIS omits essential water quality and temperature models.

The SDEIS fails to analyze the project’s compatibility with the draft Colorado state water plan. It is also at odds with the South Platte River Basin Implementation Plan statement that the costs of building and maintaining reservoirs are questionable: “The basin, in a typical year, has little unappropriated water available for new uses. Unappropriated flows . . . come in sporadic, high peaks during wetter years, making the economics of building a reservoir to capture these supplies questionable because of the large carryover storage requirements.”

Unsubstantiated assumptions about long-term, as well as short term environmental impacts, call into question the SDEIS’s already insufficient disclosure as to the allocation, sources of funding and impact of costs to build and mitigate the effects of the NISP project.

Copies of the league’s full comment letter to the Army Corps of Engineers is available at

Sarah Pitts is spokeswoman with the League of Women Voters of Larimer County.

Building a new vision for the High Line Canal — The High Line Canal Conservancy

Highline Canal Denver
Highline Canal Denver

Here’s the release from the High Line Canal Conservancy:

High Line Canal Conservancy launches a public outreach planning process to create future visions for the High Line Canal, preserving the recreational and environmental amenity for generations to come.

With the support of Denver Water, Arapahoe County and other governmental organizations along the High Line Canal (Canal), The High Line Canal Conservancy (Conservancy) is building a strong coalition of community leaders and stakeholders to support region wide, long-term planning for the future of the Canal. Over the past several years, these organizations have discussed a vision for the long-term care of the entire Canal corridor, comprising 71 miles long and 100 feet wide, focusing on its critical importance as a recreational and natural amenity to the Denver metro region. The Canal is at a turning point in its future that calls for reassessment and planning that will preserve and protect the Canal for all people forever.

“The 71 miles of the High Line Canal urban trail surpasses the scale and impact of any similar existing or proposed initiative in the U.S. today. The High Line Canal is a unique opportunity to create a significant enduring recreation and cultural greenway legacy – celebrating the rich and diverse physical and social mosaic that we call Denver.” – Tony Pickett, Conservancy Board Member, Vice President, Master Site Development The Urban Land Conservancy.

The Conservancy has commenced the planning initiative through the release of a request for qualifications for a visioning process consisting of extensive public outreach. This broad visioning process will collect the interests, attitudes and needs of citizens – resulting in an exciting future vision for preserving and enhancing the Canal along its entire reach. The Conservancy recognizes the role of the Canal as an invaluable recreational and environmental resource for the Denver metro region and is committed to:

  •  enhancing its recreational opportunities;
  •  preserving the vegetation and wildlife along the corridor; and,
  •  providing practical solutions for the water channel.

“Through the generosity of Denver Water and the stewardship of the Conservancy and its partners, we see a tremendous opportunity to fully realize the potential of the Canal as an extraordinary amenity for the metropolitan community. Much like the national Rails to Trails program, a historic utility shall be repurposed as a regional recreational treasure.” – Nina Itin, Conservancy Board Chair, Community Leader.

For information on the RFQ process, please visit the Conservancy blog: The Conservancy seeks planning teams to submit qualifications for the upcoming High Line Canal Outreach and Visioning Phase of the greater master planning process by October 12, 2015. A group of teams will be selected for a follow-up request for proposals process.
About the High Line Canal Conservancy

The Conservancy was formed in 2014 by a passionate coalition of private citizens to provide leadership and harness the region’s commitment to protecting the future of the High Line Canal. With multijurisdictional support and in partnership with Denver Water, the Conservancy is connecting stakeholders in support of comprehensive planning to ensure that the High Line Canal is protected and enhanced for future generations.

High Line Canal Regional Context map via the High Line Canal Conservancy
High Line Canal Regional Context map via the High Line Canal Conservancy

CPW is restoring Greenbacks to Herman Gulch in Clear Creek County

Herman Gulch via
Herman Gulch via

From CBS Denver (Matt Kroschel):

Colorado Parks and Wildlife set up a camp with more than 20 people working around the clock along the banks of the Herman Gultch in Clear Creek County. They are working to kill all the fish that live in the waterway currently, and then restock that waterway with the greenback cutthroat trout, Colorado’s state fish.

Presumed to be extinct by 1937, several wild populations of what were thought to be greenback cutthroat trout were discovered in the South Platte and Arkansas river basins starting in the late 1950s. According to the CPW, those discoveries launched an aggressive conservation campaign that replicated those populations across the landscape so that they could be down-listed from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Momentum for preserving the native jewels continued to build, and in 1996 the greenback was designated as Colorado’s state fish. Efforts to establish new populations were proceeding along a track that suggested the recovery plan benchmarks might soon be met, and the subspecies could be delisted entirely.

Currently, biologists estimate there are less than 5,000 wild greenback cutthroat in the state, but once this project is complete, they hope to double or triple that number.

“We choose this creek in particular because once we clear out the invasive fish species that live in these waters it will be impossible they will be able to get back into the creek to compete with the greenback cutthroat once we stock them here,” Ken Kehmeier, senior aquatic biologist, South Platte River basin, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said.

Biologists are using a substance called rotenone to kill the fish that currently call the creek home. They add the liquid upstream of a temporary water treatment and testing center at the bottom of the stream. Once the substance does its job they then dilute and consternate the deadly substance. The process turns the water a purple color for a few hundred yards downstream of the treatment center, but water samples taken downstream from that location show the water quality is back to safe levels as it enters Clear Creek.

Right now, biologists are raising thousands of greenback cutthroats in fish hatcheries in Lake and Chaffee counties.

Cutthroat trout historic range via Western Trout
Cutthroat trout historic range via Western Trout

Children’s World Water Day activities at Littleton-Englewood treatment plant


From the Centennial Citizen (Tom Munds):

Excited laughter and conversations among young voices created a different atmosphere at the Littleton/Englewood Wastewater Treatment Plant as more than 500 students from Englewood, Littleton and Denver made a field trip there for World Water Day activities.

“We have expanded the event this year and have more students attending it,” said Brenda Varner, plant employee and event coordinator. “We have gotten help in expanding the event from a number of agencies that are providing volunteers and displays. Each school’s student group is scheduled to visit every station. The stations provide the opportunity to check out displays, listen to presentations and do hands-on activities. I am sure one of the more popular hand-on activities will be at the booth where each student can create a special T-shirt.”

She said the school groups arrived at different times Sept. 23. Each group then followed a schedule from station to station.

Sixth-graders from Littleton Preparatory Charter School took part in the event. At one of the tour stations, Lily Stinton and other Littleton Prep students were divided into small groups and ran a number of tests on water from the South Platte River.

“I am learning a lot of things I didn’t know about water,” Stinton said. “I am learning about what has to be done to water so it is safe for us to drink. I am glad I came today.”[…]

Fellow student Charles Childers said it was fun testing river water.

“The water looks OK when you have it in the flask,” he said. “Then with the tests and the displays you learn about all the stuff that is in the river and in the river water. I didn’t know much about the river and the water in it so it is cool to learn about those things.”

EPA doesn’t expect ‘adverse effects’ from Boulder County mine discharge — Longmont Times-Call

The Arcade Saloon in 1898 Eldora Colorado via WikiPedia
The Arcade Saloon in 1898 Eldora Colorado via WikiPedia

From the Longmont Times-Call (John Bear):

EPA spokeswoman Laura Williams said the agency is continuing to investigate samples taken from the creek to see whether the metal content in the water is higher than historic levels.

Officials said that samples collected did not show the presence of some of the metals the EPA tests for, but, as of Monday, they had not explained what metals were present in the samples and in what concentration.

The tests look for aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese, magnesium, nickel, potassium, selenium, silver, sodium, thallium, vanadium and zinc.

The deluge of water from the Swathmore Mine on Sept. 21 temporarily turned the creek orange and led officials to briefly shut down water intake systems downstream.

Boulder and Nederland use the creek as part of their water supplies.

EPA officials said soon after the spill that the discharge from the mine was not toxic, but sent water samples for testing. They expect further results to be available later this week.

Todd Hartman, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said the mine has discharged at a “low flow rate,” less than 15 gallons a minute, for as long as the landowner can remember, but had apparently never surged before…

The Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety has identified six old or abandoned mining sites in the county that impact water quality or likely do: Bueno, Emmett, Evening Star, Fairday, Captain Jack and Golden Age.

Four of the mines — Bueno, Emmett, Evening Star and Fairday — likely impact water quality, but currently have no active water treatment programs, records show.

Hartman said the six mines are designated as “legacy mines” because they were mined prior to modern mining reclamation laws that came into effect in the 1970s.

The Captain Jack Mill is designated as a Superfund site because of multiple contaminants, including lead, arsenic and thallium, along with several other heavy metals, according to the EPA.

Mary Boardman, a project manager with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said the Captain Jack Mill Superfund Site was added to the national priorities list in 2003 and a decision was made to begin clean-up in 2008. That project remains ongoing.

Hartman said the Golden Age Mine is still in the investigative stage, so officials can determine the best approach to managing it.

Boulder County has several waterways deemed “mine related impaired streams” and one state-run “nonpoint source mine reclamation project” that includes removing mine tailings, waste piles and restoring streams, according to the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety.

Hartman said “mining impacted” means the streams have been degraded by acidity or metals from a combination of mining sources and natural background geological sources in such a way that they fall below Clean Water Act Standards.

He said it’s difficult to determine how many old or abandoned mines are in Boulder County, but nearly 1,200 safety closures have been conducted in the last 25 years, and the owner of Swathmore Mine has asked that one be installed by the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety.

“Those are grates and other measures to prevent people and animals from entering (or) falling into old mines,” Hartman said.

‘Recharge Ponds’ Show How Water Needs Of Animals And Ag Can Align — KUNC

Recharge pond
Recharge pond

From KUNC (Shelly Schlender):

Colorado’s South Platte River basin is a powerhouse for crops and cattle. Massive reservoirs quench the region’s thirst, with farm fields generally first in line. Wildlife? It’s often last.

A small win-win though is giving waterfowl a little more room at the watering hole. It’s a program that creates warm winter ponds for migrating ducks — then gives the water back, in time for summer crops…

Dabbling ducks need shallow water. In a nearby hayfield you’ll find some mud flats, each about the size of a city dweller’s yard and only two feet deep. Yahn calls them “recharge” ponds, but they could also be described as mud holes, or maybe soggy hollows.

“Recharge pond,” though, is their official name, and they don’t just happen; they’re intentionally made from natural depressions that previously did not hold much water…

To transform these features into recharge ponds, farmers must first earn a water right through Colorado water court. Then, documenting every drop, farmers pump water into their recharge ponds starting around November, when groundwater is plentiful. They keep refilling them until March, as water constantly seeps out of them. The water then percolates through the soil, slowly heading back to “recharge” the South Platte River.

“The goal,” says Yahn, “is to have it during those critical times – July, August, and September. That’s really where there’s a demand for water above what the supply is.”

A farmer who legally captures winter water through a recharge pond has essentially retimed it, making it possible to add that same amount to summer crops.

As a side effect, during the winter, ducks benefit.

During winter on Colorado’s northeastern plains, ducks can bob up and down in the recharge ponds because the pumped up groundwater is so warm that it doesn’t freeze.

“Most people … are very used to seeing that duck butt sticking straight up in the air with the bill kind of grazing off the bottom of the pond,” says Denver nature lover Kent Haybourne. “So you really want this water to be at a depth where the duck can tip its head under water and eat.”

Heybourne, a doctor, is so impressed by recharge ponds, he’s contributed land and money for creating them. He donates his water credits to nearby farmers, who use them for summer crops. Assisting him financially and with legal and engineering expertise is Ducks Unlimited, one of the nation’s oldest and largest conservation groups.

“We did about $20 million worth of those grants. And there was probably about 26 different landowners and about 40,000 acres conserved,” says Greg Kernohan, who leads the Ducks Unlimited recharge pond efforts. “It’s been a pretty incredible impact over a 10-year period.”

Kernohan teams up with hunting groups, farmers, and even businesses that provide matching grants, to help offset their corporate water use. Companies helping range from carmakers and software giants, to brewers.

As for the ponds, Kent Heybourne says that visiting one during the winter is kind of a miracle.

“You go out there when it’s 10 or 15 degrees below zero . . . and there’s this beautiful open water with steam rising off of it, and of course, you know, that’s fabulous habitat for the ducks.”

Nature lovers like Kernohan and Heyborne hope the success of recharge ponds will inspire more Coloradans to find win-win ways to share water with wildlife.