Federal environmental officials have taken charge of a continuing toxic leak into Sand Creek and the South Platte River north of downtown Denver, trying to stop oily black goo from fouling northeastern Colorado’s primary source of water.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials have known about hazardous leakages in the area for at least a month, documents show. And for a week, toxic vapors at the nearby Metro Wastewater Reclamation District facility have forced workers to wear respirators.
FORT COLLINS – As scientist Diana Wall and her team peered at them through microscopes, the trapped tiny creatures feasted on morsels in dirt.
A nematode’s innards bulged full of carbon and nitrogen. A water bear pulsed, devouring algae. Spiderlike mites and springtails jumped – the underground equivalents of zebras and giraffes.
Exploits of these subsurface organisms are a growing preoccupation for scientists because the ecological oomph of soils that people depend on for food, health and water is eroding. Understanding how the tiny creatures work may help restore soil fertility and stop deadly sicknesses.
FORT LUPTON – Oil and gas drillers have bought at least 500 million gallons of water this year from cities for use in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” along Colorado’s Front Range . Now they need more.
Nearly three-quarters of a ton of concentrated uranium removed from groundwater to protect metro-area drinking water is piling up at Cotter Corp.’s defunct mine west of Denver.
Water has filled a massive new reservoir to the brim – the federal government’s first major project in 15 years that could help slake the arid West’s thirsts.
But the $513 million Nighthorse reservoir in south west Colorado will not supply any of the dozens of sprawling Western cities seeking water.
Instead, the 123,541 acre-feet of water stored here – more than Denver’s Cheesman and Gross reservoirs combined – belongs mostly to the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes.
The project reflects a quiet but substantial shift of control over a crucial resource as the federal government tries to turn a new page with tribes.
Six recent water settlements have forced the government to commit $2.04 billion for dam, pipeline and reservoir projects – giving sovereign tribes from Montana to New Mexico control over 1.5 million acre-feet of new water each year.
CAÑON CITY – Cotter Corp. crews jack-hammered concrete foundations and ripped apart contaminated remaining buildings at their uranium mill, pushing to consolidate all waste in a massive impoundment pond by year’s end. Cotter’s dismantling activities are happening at a turning point where licensing requirements may force a decision on the future of the mill.
The disassembly-line workers hammering, drilling, snipping and shredding in a north Denver warehouse each morning are pioneers in new urban mining. End product: gold, silver, copper, aluminum.
LONGMONT – Gaps in state rules leave Colorado cities and towns in the lurch as they deal with increased oil and gas drilling within municipal limits.
Environmental and sportsmen’s groups, too, are frustrated, because state rules allow drilling near most mountain streams.
All are urging state regulators to live up to a commitment made in 2009 to launch stakeholder groups to finish rules for in-town and streamside drilling. Two years later, nothing has been done.