Water Quality / Conservation

EPA Releases Monitoring Plan for Animas and San Juan Rivers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) released its final monitoring plan for the Animas and San Juan rivers following the August 5, 2015 Gold King Mine incident. They also posted on their Gold King Mine website the results of surface water and sediment sampling collected as part of their yearlong effort to gather scientific data to evaluate ongoing river conditions, as well as impacts to public health and the environment.


Animas River Water Quality

The Animas River Community Forum (ARCF) is a community group that formed in response to the Gold King Mine blow out in August 2015 to address concerns regarding response, recovery, and cohesive solutions for water quality in the Animas River. State Senator Ellen Roberts convened the group as she saw a need for the community(ies), including nonprofits, governments, citizens and business groups, to get involved in the issue working together; to learn from the experience; and to play a role in defining future actions including educating stakeholders from across Colorado and other audiences about the lessons learned.


Colorado’s Buy-and-Grow vs. Buy-and-Dry Program

Agricultural buy-and-dry occurs when someone purchases land and moves the water into the municipal system. There are mounting fears, however, that permanent dry-up of agricultural lands could potentially cripple the farming industry in Colorado. Alternatively, a buy-and-grow plan would allow farmers to share their water rights with municipalities--essentially a sharing of water rights between rural and urban communities. According to a recent Durango Herald article, with the buy-and-grow plan governments and private interests could help farmers with investments in water-conservation technology and other equipment, thereby helping farmers grow. The farmers would then share the water that they don’t need anymore because of the savings. In the article, Kelly Brough said that “They’re still growing, still producing, they’re more efficient, and they don’t lose their water right.” Brough is the Chief Executive of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce (DMCC). At an early October meeting in Denver with state and local water officials, hosted by the DMCC, Brough indicated that the buy-and-grow plan could usher in a new wave of water policy. To view the full article visit the Durango Herald


The Colorado River Desalination Plant

According to a High Country News article, the Paradox Valley in western Colorado was formed millions of years ago, when a huge dome of salt collapsed. Now, that salt remains and the waters of the Dolores River pick it up and carry it to the Colorado River, where it eventually degrades the water quality for downstream users. For nearly 50 years the Paradox Valley Unit, which is operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, has been treating the salt problem. According to the article, the unit treats nearly 200 gallons of brine every minute—this is seven times saltier than ocean water. The brine is then injected into a formation about 2.5 miles beneath the Earth’s surface. The formation, however, will eventually fill up rendering the unit useless. According to the HCN article, there are no obvious replacement options, and officials do not know how long they have left, but estimate 10 to 20 years. 


Millennials: Target of Water Conservationists

Research indicates that many millennials, those born in the early 1980s to 2000s, in Colorado don’t understand the value of water or how it gets to their tap. That is why water conservation advocates in the state are targeting this group with a campaign that aims to educate them about the value of water. In June LoveColoradoWater.org was launched by Colorado WaterWise, a statewide group that advocates for water conservation. The website is part of the “Live Like You Love It” campaign, which aims at delivering a consistent message about the value of Colorado water and the need to conserve. LoveColoradoWater.org will serve as a hub for information on how to conserve and care for water. The website includes facts about how Coloradans receive their water, tips on conserving indoor and outdoor water, and pointers to protect water quality.


Global Water Quality

According to a recently released white paper by Veolia and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), global water quality is expected to take a plunge in the coming years. "This assessment reveals that levels of BOD, N, and P discharged into water bodies around the world are already alarmingly high. This situation is projected to worsen substantially over the next several decades as loadings of these substances will continue to increase, posing greater risks to aquatic environments and human health, especially in developing countries," the white paper said.


Water Conservation Nullified by Growth

According to an early April Water Online article, while California residents are trying to conserve water, it may do little good in the face of population growth. California water agencies are on track to satisfy a state mandate to reduce water consumption 20 percent by 2020, but according to their own projections, that savings won’t be enough to keep up with population growth just a decade later.


EPA Study Confirms Fracking Affects Drinking Water

In June the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that fracking does pollute drinking water, with the release of the draft final version of its study of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources.


Colorado #1 Endangered River

The Grand Canyon stretch of the Colorado tops American Rivers' 32nd annual list of endangered rivers because of cumulative threats to scenery and spring water from commercial and residential development plans, and from a push to restart major uranium mining. The designation marks the third year in a row that all or part of the drought-sapped river has been at or near the top of the advocacy group's annual watch list of rivers it feels face potentially harmful actions or decisions in the coming year. A gondola-tramway plan that would drop up to 10,000 tourists daily a few thousand feet down to the canyon bottom on the river's south side helped push the Grand Canyon section of the Colorado to the top of this year's list.


Animas River Water Quality

As reported in an early June Durango Herald article, about 20 concerned people gathered at the Durango Public Library to hear one woman’s answer to an effortlessly gripping question: “Who pooped in the river?” According to Melissa May, a natural resource specialist for San Juan Soil and Water Conservation District, who analyzed microbial source tracking results for the Animas River in Colorado and New Mexico--the answer is, in short, humans pooped in it.


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