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Public Lands

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Colorado's public lands are faced with new challenges but water and land management depend on working together. Read about the relationship between water and land in Colorado and how Coloradans are converging to restore Colorado's public lands in the Spring 2018 issue of Headwaters magazine.

Browse articles and find a flipbook of the magazine here.

Connecting the Drops

connectingdropslogo4.1Bringing you the reporting you crave over the radio airways with extras and archives on our website. Visit the audio archives or listen to the latest story on the connection between Colorado's forests, watersheds, and forest fires:

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Water Education Colorado

Bacteria, mineral add to creek's problems

Fountain Creek above U.S. Highway 47 is on the state's list of most polluted waterway for elevated levels of E. coli, and in some segments, selenium.

Both occur naturally, but in high doses can cause serious health and environmental problems. Recent studies conducted by Colorado State University-Pueblo and funded by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District found E. coli levels increase as the creek nears Pueblo.

Mammals and birds' intestinal tracts contain E. coli bacteria. If ingested, the bacteria can cause intestinal problems and even death. Some E. coli is normal in streams but its presence may indicate pathogens in the water. If Fountain Creek is to meet state standards for recreation and swimming, levels must decrease significantly. Currently, Fountain Creek's levels are well above the state's limit, 126 organisms per 100 cubic milliliters. During storm events or warm periods of the summer, E. coli levels spike, to tens of thousands of organisms per 100 milliliters.

A lower priority for cleanup is the elevated selenium concentrations in the creek's sediments and waters. Selenium, a naturally occurring trace element, is common in ancient marine sediments. If the soils are irrigated, selenium can leach from the soil and concentrations may increase in streams, lakes and wetland areas. Although an important element for human and animal health, even slightly elevated quantities may cause reproductive and other deformities in aquatic life and birds.

In 2006, Pueblo District Attorney Bill Thiebault joined the Sierra Club in a federal lawsuit charging Colorado Springs and its utility with continued violations of the Clean Water Act. Colorado Springs officials counter the suit only hampers further negotiations, and that it is not the place for Pueblo to ‘over legislate’ the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's enforcement. The suit is pending.

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