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Weekly water roundup: Mine cleanups legislation, Moffat Collection System Project


Photo: Coyote Gulch archives

Short takes from the week in Colorado water:

S.B. 1777 the Good Samaritan Cleanup of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act of 2009

U.S. Senator Mark Udall introduced the act a while back. The main point of contention is over the exemption that would allow good samaritans a way out of ownership of the problem if they come in and make things worse. The liability -- a requirement of the Clean Water Act -- keeps many groups from attempting a cleanup.

The battle pits local watershed groups against national interests. The locals want to try to clean acid mine drainage and other problems but don't have deep enough pockets to take on large scale mitigation.

Opponents question exemptions to environmental laws and requirements. National environmental group Earthjustice spokeswoman Jessica Ennis told the Colorado Independent, "We will not support a bill that makes exemptions from environmental laws."

One concern is making sure that the current owners of the pollution are not allowed a way out of their liability. Udall contends that sufficient safeguards are in place in his bill to prevent fraud.

S.B. 796 the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2009

Senator Udall signed on to the bill last week as a sponsor. The bill will set new royalties and mitigation requirements that were left out of the General Mining Act of 1872.

Moffat Collection System Project

There will be four public hearings in the next two weeks for discussion of Denver Water's proposed Moffat Collection System Project. They utility plans to expand east slope storage in Gross Reservoir and divert more water from the west slope, primarily the Fraser River Drainage. Denver Water is attempting to bolster storage on the north side of their system as a hedge in dry times.

Here's the lowdown on the meetings:

Tues., Dec. 1 - Boulder Country Club, 7350 Clubhouse Road, Boulder, CO 80301
Wed., Dec. 2 - Inn at Silver Creek, 62927 U.S. Highway 40, Granby, CO 80446
Thurs., Dec. 3 - Doubletree Hotel, 3203 Quebec Street, Denver, CO 80207
Tues., Dec. 8 - Keystone Conference Center, 0633 Tennis Club Road, Keystone, CO 80435

ASARCO reorg nets Colorado $42 million

Included in the projects to be funded by the ASARCO bankruptcy reorganization plan will be some dough to rehabilitate the Globe plant site in Denver for residential development.

Lawsuit filed to overturn decision that kept Colorado River Cutthroat off the endangered list

The Center for Biological Diversity filed the lawsuit on Tuesday. In 2007 the Bush Administration U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cited increasing numbers as reason to keep the fish off the list. Center spokesman Noah Greenwald told the Vail Daily that, "the trout is gone from 87 percent of its historic range, which included parts of Arizona and New Mexico."

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