Please join us for a luncheon with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of the global Waterkeeper Alliance. The event is a benefit for the Boulder Waterkeeper which works to protect and restore the Boulder Creek watershed. Suggested donation: $50.
The event is at the home of Karen Sandburg and Jeff Flynn, 1440 King Ave., Boulder, and is hosted by the Boulder Waterkeeper Board of Directors — Gary Wockner, Ted Ross, and Vicki Goldstein.
Congressional committee continues to investigate the risks of per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) forever chemicals. An initial hearing in March focused on human health, a second hearing in July considered communities and the third hearing in September addressed corporate accountability.
PFAS are chemicals designed to be resistant to degradation, and are used as fire retardants and for stain protection, non-slip surfaces and food protection purposes under the brand names of Teflon and Scotchguard. They are termed ‘forever chemicals’ and are now present in natural water, drinking water and in the blood of more than 99% of Americans.
The risks and impact of these chemicals was not well understood when the Clean Water Act of 1972 was written and now is the time for a better understanding of the impact and risks and the potential control and remediation options. The Trump administration is resisting these efforts.
The Boulder Creek watershed has two sites with measurable PFAS contamination.
House Committee on Oversight and Reform – PFAS Contamination and the Need for Corporate Accountability September 11, 2019
The Daily Camera is reporting that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued a report detailing corrective actions for contractor Zak Dirt on the Boulder Canyon HIghway 119 project. These actions resulted from a September 18th inspection that was triggered by a September 8th Boulder Waterkeeper complaint.
Health department details deficiencies on Boulder Canyon project – Daily Camera October 1, 2019
Boulder Waterkeeper submitted a formal response to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment letter stating that they have determined CU discharges into Boulder Creek are not ‘illicit discharges’.
The fundamental message of the Boulder Waterkeeper response is that underlying the discussion of terminology is the broader and more significant issue of impairment, responsibility and commitment to remediation. The University of Colorado is discharging significant levels of E. coli into Boulder Creek, the creek is impaired and all the stakeholders have a responsibility to assess, monitor and work to improve water quality.
Boulder Waterkeeper calls out six actions that CDPHE needs to take to hold CU accountable to their explicit and implicit obligations and to preserve and protect the integrity of the Boulder Creek watershed.
Boulder Waterkeeper Response to CDPHE Illicit Discharge Determination September 10, 2019
Boulder Waterkeeper attended the initial Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) work group developing a narrative policy on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contaminants. Attended by over 60 individuals representing government agencies, municipalities, airports, industry, legal, water treatment, environment advocates and concerned citizens the work group is targeting a proposed policy for PFAS monitoring and management that will be presented for adoption at the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission in May 2020. PFAS are a emerging contaminate related to fire retardants and household products that the EPA has declared toxic. There are two known PFAS sites in the Boulder Creek watershed, the extent and severity of contamination statewide is unknown. CDPHE is moving forward to engage the public with a fine balance between attention and anxiety.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced that the Trump administration is proceeding with the plan to overturn a 2015 rule defining the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. According to the Center for Biological Diversity this action could eliminate protection and oversight for streams and wetlands in more than 3,000 watersheds. The Waterkeeper Alliance will be a key participant in litigation.
EPA News Release September 12, 2019 Repealing 2015 WOTUS Rule
Boulder Waterkeeper is issuing a water quality based complaint against Zak Dirt the permit holder of the above mention general construction stormwater permits. Zak Dirt is the major CDOT contractor for the State Highway 119 Project. It is apparent that erosion control measures are not adequate as per the CDPHE General Stormwater Permit requirements. Sediment in the creek pose a significant risk to trout spawning in Boulder Creek.
An observation was made on September 5, 2019 of unusually high sediment at Eben Fine Park and other locations along Boulder Creek.
On September 8, 2019 a drive through of the construction area showed poor erosion control measures being instituted by the Contractor with large amounts of open exposed sediment near Boulder Creek.
Boulder Waterkeeper is requesting the Army Corps of Engineers and Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment visit the site to assess the environmental impact and permit compliance.
Boulder Daily Camera September 15, 2019: Boulder Advocates flag sediment’s presence in Boulder Creek
Boulder Waterkeeper Watershed Advocate Art Hirsch addressed the CU Board of Regents at their quarterly board meeting on September 12, 2019 at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. During public comment Art discussed the impaired status of the creek, the situation and history of the CU campus outfalls and proposed steps to address remediation. CU Chancellor Philip DiStefano responded that the CU is in full compliance to the CDPHE permit. Art confirmed that Boulder Waterkeeper does not agree. The Chairman of the Board of Regents stated that additional information and discussion is required.
Dr. Larry Barber of the USGS and Dr. Alan Vajda of CU Denver delivered challenging and troubling presentations (The Boulder Creek Watershed Natural Laboratory and Landscape Endocrinology) on the presence of emerging contaminants in the Boulder Creek and other watersheds at the Boulder Waterkeeper Watershed Forum. Biologic and pharmaceutical chemicals that may not have been fully understood when the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 are emerging as significant issues of concern for human and aquatic life. The number of new chemicals and the range of impacts are just now being researched. Boulder Creek is a leading site for investigations and analysis.
Students from Summit Middle School in Boulder under the guidance of Jennifer Perlick, Adam Perkins and Boulder Waterkeeper conducted a creek cleanup of Boulder Creek. Approximately 50 individuals, collected over 500 pounds of trash including cans, bottles, plastic, metal, clothing, sharps, electronics and cigarette butts between 30th Street and 13th Street. Both the creek and the students benefited from the event.