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Weekly water roundup: El Nino bulking up, Colorado snags $42 million from ASARCO settlement


Graphic: Coyote Gulch archives

Short takes from the last couple of weeks in Colorado water:

El Nino bulking up

Waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean were about 4 degrees fahrenheit above normal recently. That is the signal that a strong El Nino is building. Weather watchers expect the warm waters to last until March and that they will effect weather worldwide.

Locally Colorado tends to divide north/south during El Nino years with higher precipitation in the southern mountains. They need it, Montezuma County's 2009 precipitation levels through November stood at 7.87 inches, only 59 percent of the norm (13.21 inches annually).

Stimulus dough Davis-Bacon Act wage strings rankle Fruita's mayor

Both Fruita and Glenwood Springs have wastewater treatment plant constuction projects where they'd like to turn dirt. They jumped in with both feet to get some of the stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and now they're bristling at having to rebid them to comply with prevailing wage requirements prescribed in the legislation.

"This is the first time in 21 years that this act has applied. This impacts communities directly, and as far as we're concerned, this is nothing more than a $1.3 million tax on Fruita," said Fruita Mayor Ken Henry, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

Geothermal lease near Buena Vista part of February 11 BLM sale

If you're looking to corner the geothermal electrical generation market in the Upper Arkansas Valley bring lots of dough along to the February 11 Bureau of Land Management sale in Denver. They are offering 799 acres for lease near Mount Princeton Hot Springs.

Demise of Colorado Springs' stormwater enterprise fund

On Monday the Colorado Springs City Council voted to end the city's stormwater enterprise fund at the end of the year. According to the Colorado Springs Gazette many current and future projects will now be unfunded. Some, like the Templeton Gap Floodway, may not get any funding now.

Colorado Springs spent the last couple of weeks assuring Pueblo County that stormwater improvements for Fountain Creek -- promised during negotiations for county's special use permit for the Southern Delivery System -- are still on and will not be effected by the dismantling of the enterprise.

Grupo Mexico ponies up $1.79 billion for ASARCO libilities

Colorado is sharing $42 million of the settlement paid last Monday. ASARCO properties to receive funding include California Gulch, Summitville, Fremont County, Globeville and the upper Animas watershed near Silverton.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment set up pharmaceutical drop off sites

Be sure to start disposing of your old pharmaceuticals at King Soopers in the Denver area. You'll be doing your part to keep some emerging contaminants out of the South Platte. Summit County area folks can go to City Market.

Fort Morgan farmer jailed for ignoring cease and desist order from State Engineer

Farmer Craig Kroskob is out of the slammer after paying $100,000 of his $128,000+ fine for pumping without a permanent augmentation plan.

Groundwater pumpers generally have to keep the river whole by providing water in the stream to offset pumping. After a trial in 2003 the state engineer cracked down on pumpers that did not have permanent water sources for the augmentation plans.

Parker Water and Sanitation recall election on Tuesday

If you live in Parker you get a chance on Tuesday to recall the Parker Water and Sanitation board.

Corps of Engineers public hearings for the Moffat Collection System Project

The Fraser River's environmental health and future is at the heart of the conflict between opponents of Denver Water's proposed expansion of the facilities on the north end of their service area -- including raising Gross Dam 125 feet or so. Water to fill the new space in the reservoir will be diverted from the Fraser River watershed, through the Moffat Water Tunnel and be transported by South Boulder Creek.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held hearings for the project recently in Boulder, Granby and Denver. Snow and cold caused the Corps to move the Summit County meeting scheduled for Keystone to Tuesday night.

One possible benefit from the project would be increased winter stream flows if conservation groups and Boulder County are able to score some storage in the newly configured Gross Dam. Current plans also include guaranteed flows in the Fraser if the project is approved.

For more info: I follow Colorado water issues at Coyote Gulch.

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