Waterkeeper Alliance Connects the Dots between Gross Reservoir and the Colorado River

Dear Boulder,

We’re part of a coalition of conservation groups fighting to save the Colorado River — and we need your help.

The expansion of the Gross Dam in Boulder County, Colorado would create the tallest dam in the state’s history; it also would increase water diversions from small tributaries to the Colorado River that are home to the endangered green lineage cutthroat trout. The project likely would kill thousands of these fish, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act. “The project would cause massive negative impacts on both sides of the continental divide, further drain the Colorado River, and further imperil endangered species,” said Gary Wockner, Poudre Waterkeeper and Director of SaveThe Colorado. “We will fight to protect the rivers and its fishes, and we will enforce the law.”

We are working to raise $5,000 to fund our efforts to stop this dam. Thanks to a generous benefactor, every dollar you donate before the end of the year will be matched!

Please join us in our fight to save the Colorado River, and the endangered fish that need free-flowing rivers in order to survive.

To clean water,

Marc Yaggi
Executive Director

Clean Water Act in Crisis

A proposed executive order changing the definition of the Waters of the US puts 3,000 watersheds at risk.

By limiting protections only to wetlands and streams that are “physically and meaningfully connected” to larger navigable bodies of water, the proposal would virtually eliminate the Clean Water Act’s protections across the arid West, from West Texas to Southern California, including most of New Mexico, Arizona,  and Nevada.  (Tan colored in the featured graphic)

Watershed advocates need to be outraged and active.

South Platte Regional Opportunities Working Group (SPROWG) Established

Significant discussions and initial grants have been made for an ambitious plan for water storage and reuse plans on the South Platte watershed.  Authorized by Colorado HB 16-1256 a South Platte Storage Study has been completed and organizing efforts are underway to find ways to recapture 300,000 Acre-feet per year of water that is flowing out of the state to Nebraska.

The South Platte Regional Opportunities Working Group (SPROWG) has been established and has received grants of $350,000 from the Metro and South Platte Basin Roundtables and the Colorado Water Conservation Board.  Organizations participating in the group include South Metro Water Supply Authority, Denver Water, Aurora Water, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District, the North Sterling Irrigation District and the Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District.

The concept includes 175,000 acre-feet of new water storage in three locations near Henderson, Kersey and Snyder and the construction of a pipeline back to the South Platte River north of Denver.

The costs and environmental impacts are being assessed.

Boulder County Asserts Land Use Approval Authority over Gross Reservoir Expansion Plans

Boulder County has asserted the authority to conduct a land use review of the proposed Moffat Collection System Project.  In a letter dated October 12th, 2018 Denver Water requested an exemption from current land use codes.  In a letter dated October 22nd, 2018.  Boulder County denied this request and stated that Denver Water will need to obtain a new land use permit prior to undertaking any work on the project.

The impact of this action is significant.  Denver Water was ready to proceed with the project, but that will not be possible without either approval from Boulder County or litigation.

Dam Failure in the Mekong River Watershed

On July 23rd the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam a $1B hydroelectric project funded by South Korea floods villages in Laos and Cambodia and illuminates the dangerous water politics and policies along the Mekong river.  Dozens dead, hundreds missing and thousands displaced.  

Lao government to suspend all new hydropower dam contracts.

Hoover Dam as a $3B Battery?

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Los Angeles mayor Mayor Eric M. Garcetti are proposing a $3B project to utilize Hoover Dam for hydroelectical pumped power storage to manage electricity demand.

The concept targeted, for 2028, is to pump water uphill from 20 miles downriver from the dam using peak solar and wind power to be released for hydro-generation when required.  Significant political, environmental and economic challenges will need to be considered and addressed.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/07/24/business/energy-environment/hoover-dam-renewable-energy.html

Sustainable Fishing (and Guiding), Catch and Release Best Practices

When I started fishing in 1960, we killed every fish we caught. Over a half-century later, even though there are 1000 times more anglers, there are more fish and larger trout in Colorado waters.  A big reason for this is the number of folks practicing Catch and Release or Catch and Choose the Fish to Release.

Over the years we have learned more about what stresses fish and techniques for proper fish handling.  Fish released properly have a 90% chance of survival

This link describes the best practices for handling fish to increase their chance of survival after release:

Catch and Release Trout; Best Practices

City of Boulder Hydroelectric Plants?

Who would have guessed?…  The city of Boulder is a hydroelectric power generator.  On May 21, 2018 the city signed a contract with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association for the sale of hydroelectric power generated at the Boulder Canyon,  Orodell, Sunshine, Maxwell and Kohler hydroelectric plants. The estimated revenue of $500,000 a year will be used for water utility capital improvements and operating costs.

The City of Boulder owns and operates eight hydroelectric power plants, with one purchased and seven constructed since 1985.  These facilities were installed on existing water supply pipelines without any additional dams or overhead transmission lines.  Total generation for 2016 was 40,798,941 kilowatt hours (kWh)

Tri-State is the not-for-profit, cooperative power supplier to 43 electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

 

Fish Kill due to Boulder Canyon Hazmat Spill on May 1st

On May 1, 2018 there was a hazardous material spill of 250 gallons of sodium hydroxide or caustic soda in upper Boulder Canyon near mile marker 28.5.  The materials were being delivered to the Nederland Water Treatment plant an one container fell off the truck onto the road shoulder.  Authorities were notified by 9:30am arrived at the scene at 10:51am.  By then all the materials had leaked from the container.  In the following days and week fishing guides observed multiple dead and dying fish and populations do not appear to have recovered to pre-spill levels.  The community response was limited and Boulder Waterkeeper believes that additional procedures are necessary to prevent and address future contamination events.

A full report on the incident can be read at: http://www.boulderwaterkeeper.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Boulder-May-1st-FIsh-Kill-Report-Wallace-Westfeldt.pdf

Contact Wallace Westfeldt (wallace@mudbugco.com) for additional information.

Daily Camera: http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder-county-news/ci_31845267/boulder-canyon-drive-closed-at-hurricane-hill-due

Mountain Ear: http://themtnear.com/2018/05/canyon-closed-for-hazmat-spill/

 

Supreme Court Allows Significant Watershed Restoration Decision to Stand

With a split decision announced on June 11, 2018 the U.S. Supreme court lets stand a ruling in the Washington v. United States ‘culvert’ case that has immediate impact for stream restorations in the State of Washington and potential long term implications for watershed protection in Colorado and the nation.  In commitments made by the U.S. in the 1850s in treaties with tribal nations salmon fishing rights were established and then reaffirmed in federal cases in the 1970s.  The affirmed ruling requires the State of Washington to repair salmon access and habitat that is degraded by 900+ road culverts.  The anticipated cost is in excess of $2.4B.  The implications for other watersheds, the Public Trust Doctrine and Rights of Nature arguments are still being evaluated.