Monday letters: Growth limited by water, Xcel’s Comanche 3, 480 Donegan
Growth limited by water
For over 100 years, the citizens of Glenwood Springs have been drinking pure water from No Name and Grizzly drainages. These streams can provide only enough water for a limited population of Glenwood.
In 2015, the city hired a Boulder engineering firm to confirm there would be enough water for Glenwood citizens until the year 2050. The findings concluded that with full compliance with a water efficiency plan and an additional 500 acre-feet from Ruedi, there would be adequate water for the next 35 years. This rosy picture was based on a really bad assumption that Glenwood would grow at only its historic rate of 1-2% per year until 2050 (18,800 residents). The report concluded that “more accelerated growth would be unlikely given the steep slopes, flood plains, river canyons …” The report did not consider the effect of climate change on stream flows.
What happens when there isn’t enough water in the drainages? It appears that the city’s solution is to suck polluted water directly from the Roaring Fork and blend it into our pure mountain water. Currently, there is an emergency pumping station under the Eighth Street bridge that can be temporarily tied into the existing raw water line. The city is proposing increasing the size of the pumps and digging a new raw waterline from the river to the treatment plant. This will allow the city to suck the purchased Ruedi water directly from the river.
The Roaring Fork River at Glenwood is the sewage outfall for the entire valley with every gallon of treated municipal waste passing under the Eighth Street bridge. You should never get municipal water supply directly from a river. Surrounding towns use well fields far from the river, which help filter the contaminants. Glenwood citizens may go from having the best water in the valley to the worst when we start drinking water directly from the Roaring Fork.
Perhaps it is time for the city to revisit the water issue with realistic assumptions.
Xcel hanging on to Comanche 3
Xcel Energy’s coal-fired Comanche 3 power plant in Pueblo was a lemon since it came online in 2010 six months behind schedule. It’s been offline 25% of the time since then, including a 373-day outage in 2020 and 2021.
The state’s largest energy supplier has spent $12 million in repairs. Total it up, and Comanche 3 has cost 45% more to operate than forecast in 2010. It costs $66.25 for the plant to produce one megawatt hour of electricity. A wind farm can do the same for $19.30.
And that’s just money. Comanche 3 is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the state, pumping 5 million tons into the atmosphere per year. That’s the equivalent of the emissions of 1 million cars.
In a drought-stricken state, Comanche 3 consumes 180,000 gallons of water per day, more than the top 10 water users in Pueblo. The volatile organic compounds and particulates spewing out of the plant’s smokestacks give Pueblo some of the worst air quality in the state.
So Xcel wants to keep Comanche 3 running until 2035. That’s when President Biden says we should be at 100% renewable power generation. We’ll never make that target with coal-fired power plants running. Pueblo, Glenwood Springs and Aspen have all set goals of being carbon neutral by 2030. If Xcel keeps a coal plant running past that, good luck.
Workers in Pueblo are rightfully concerned about their jobs if Comanche 3 shuts down earlier. House Bill 21-1290 was passed earlier this year, and it would allot $7 million to help coal plant workers transition into other industries. It was cosponsored by Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, Sen. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, and Rep. Perry Will, R-New Castle.
It cost Xcel $855 million to build Comanche 3. They went deeply in debt to do it. I’m sure Xcel would like to convince their stockholders it wasn’t a bad investment, but if this megacorporation doesn’t want to exacerbate the climate crisis and send good money after bad, Comanche 3 should be banked by at least 2030.
The Colorado Public Utilities
Commission is meeting to review Xcel’s plans. Please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-456-0858 and make your wishes known.
Fred Malo Jr.
‘480 Donegan is still too big’
Your editorial board challenged us to come up with solutions — which we’ve always been about — when seeking a repeal of the 480 Donegan development. By the way, our referendum signature collection is going strong, and our boots on the ground have doubled.
We, the grassroots organization of Glenwood Springs Citizens for Sensible Growth, have come up with myriad ideas to replace the 300 units annexed into the city on less than 16 acres of land behind the old mall in west Glenwood Springs.
No surprise that the majority opined that a public open space park or community garden would be a good idea. Quite a few suggested taking care of our growing senior population in the valley by creating a senior center or senior housing. An early child care facility was mentioned more than once. A bowling alley and a movie theatre also came to mind since Glenwood lost both of those entertainment outlets a while ago. Others suggested a mix of open space, child care center and a small residential area of rent controlled single family or duplex dwellings. Many suggested 100% affordable housing or employee housing.
So many good choices, rather than the one that currently sits on the desk at City Hall. 480 Donegan is still too big. No one likes it, not city nor county Glenwood residents. They know it’s a fire hazard, they know there’s not enough water, and they know it will create a traffic nightmare for everyone.
Sensible development is preferred. 480 Donegan is not that. If you’re a city resident, and registered and want to sign the petition or gather signatures, look for us — we’re all over the town. Or please email email@example.com.
West Glenwood development plans account for fire danger
On Friday, and in past weeks, numerous letters to the editor have addressed potential wildfire evacuation concerns for the West Glenwood area. In an Oct. 14, 2021, city of Glenwood Springs staff letter to City Council, these concerns were addressed by the city Engineering, Police and Fire departments, who met the previous week with Colorado Department of Transportation representatives for access management, the resident engineer and the maintenance superintendent.
Traffic management plans are being engineered to include two emergency access connections onto Interstate 70 to address current, as well as future, development, such as the 300 townhomes and apartments recently approved for annexation north of the Glenwood Springs Mall and redevelopment of the mall property. In the October staff letter it states that the “Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and CDOT have reviewed the locations and indicated their preliminary support.” Additionally, “(F)unding for the connections is currently included in the 2022 (city) budget.”
Anyone can further educate themselves regarding this matter by reviewing the above referenced letter located online in the city planning file: 09-20, 480 Donegan Road, Update on the Evacuation Management Plan, including photo egress diagrams, Oct. 14.
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