Sunday, August 26, 2012

VWC-DEIS 3.1 Surface Water – Water Quality, Stream Health and Floodplains

Reviewing the VWC-DEIS you'll notice a number of points worth a closer look. To facilitate that I will use this blog for my study notes, organized into single issue threads. Each will quote the USDA Forest Service - Village at Wolf Creek Access Project - Draft Environmental Impact Statement section in question.

{For clarity I have added breaks between sentences and highlights where appropriate.  Wording has not been altered.}
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Draft Environmental Impact Statement - Village at Wolf Creek Access Project

3.1 Surface Water – Water Quality, Stream Health and Floodplains
3.1.1 Scope of Analysis

This section addresses three major aspects of the surface water resources present in the Analysis Area: water quality, stream health, and floodplains. The Analysis Area encompasses the upper reaches of the North and South Pass Creek watersheds, from the Continental Divide downstream to the confluence of these two streams (Figure 3.1-1).  These watersheds were delineated based on the three-meter U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) Digital Elevation Model for the Wolf Creek Pass Quadrangle, as well as aerial photography from June 2007.

To produce a model of the average monthly streamflow for North Pass Creek, a digital snowmelt runoff model was used, based on the methods of Jaroslav Martenec, Albert Rango & Ralph Roberts and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Station in Las Cruces, New Mexico (Martenec, et al, 2007).

The model predicts the average monthly streamflow for North Pass Creek between 1990-2010, based on data from the SNOTEL site at Wolf Creek Pass (NRCS, 2012).

The stream health evaluation focuses on the main stems of North and South Pass Creeks, and is based on field observations of channel conditions including stream channel geometry, floodplain size, stream bed materials, observed bed and bank stability, and size of materials transported by the streams (Figure 3.1-1).

Historical factors affecting stream conditions are discussed, and the bed materials found in North and South Pass Creeks are compared in order to identify impacts to North Pass Creek caused by highway maintenance activities.  In addition, the details of Tetra Tech, Inc.’s (2004) Draft Stream Assessment South and North Unnamed Tributaries of Pass Creek are presented and discussed, including information on bank and bed stability and sedimentation.  

The project site includes ±3,006 linear feet of North Pass Creek and ±3,852 linear feet of South Pass Creek, as summarized in Tables 3.1-1 and 3.1-2.

Draft Environmental Impact Statement - Village at Wolf Creek Access Project

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"The model predicts the average monthly streamflow for North Pass Creek between 1990-2010"

That is quite an assumption to make. We do have this statement:

VWC-DEIS - Page 4-56   Chapter 4.  
Environmental Consequences Moderate Density Development Concept 
{...}Conversely, while climate change has been projected to have incremental impacts on various aspects of human activities at some unknown point in the future, there are no methodologies available at this point to predict any impacts on the project being analyzed here.”  - VWC-DEIS
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"The model predicts the average monthly streamflow for North Pass Creek between 1990-2010, based on data from the SNOTEL site at Wolf Creek Pass (NRCS, 2012)."

It seems the entire section regarding water supply and other impacts is presented under the assumption that there will be plenty of snow and water in the future.  That's a big assumption for something as important as guaranteed water supply for a luxury village.
Not to mention, cascading downstream impacts of that.

There is also this gem:  Page 2-14   “Climate - infeasible to determine”   - VWC-DEIS

Is such an assumption valid in the face of all the evidence to the contrary? See here, and below.

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These issues are not:"incremental some unknown... future"         They are now. 
Below is a list of recent studies demonstrating that we have entered a period decidedly different from that experienced between 1990 and 2010.  It promises decreased amounts of available water and increase down stream water conflicts.  There is much evidence to support this claim.  
Into this socioeconomic scenario and onto that biologically productive watershed, speculators continue to hold on to a 1980s dream to build, bulldoze a water sucking, water polluting fairytale luxury village at 10,300'?  

Why doesn't the VWC-DEIS weigh how the following critical information will impact the rosy assessments regarding VWC's socioeconomic scenarios, which they made?

Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Link to for the details to the titles listed below:

Index 2010 - Climate Change and Water in Southwestern North America Special Feature


1.    From the Cover: Climate Change and Water in Southwestern North America Special Feature: Water, climate change, and sustainability in the southwest

2.    Reclaiming freshwater sustainability in the Cadillac Desert

3.    Future dryness in the Southwest US and the hydrology of the early 21st century drought

4.    Greenhouse warming and the 21st century hydroclimate of southwestern North America   
5.    A 1,200-year perspective of 21st century drought in southwestern North America     

6.    Forest responses to increasing aridity and warmth in the southwestern United States 

7.    Vulnerability assessment of climate-induced water shortage in Phoenix 

8.    Roadmap for sustainable water resources in southwestern North America

Here’s the short version of the situation facing us now, not at "some unknown future."

Salazar: Western U.S. Facing Water Shortages
By Coral Davenport
 - October 5, 2011 
"The American West and Southwest are headed for serious water shortages in the coming decades, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Wednesday.

The 10 Western states that depend on the Colorado River and Rio Grande basins will see acute water shortages in the coming years due to the combination of reduced precipitation as a result of climate change and increased demand, Salazar said, speaking to reporters at a breakfast held by the Christian Science Monitor.... "


EIS writers please correct the VWC-DEIS’s omissions and weigh the PNAS’s critical information along with how it relates to the viability of this project.

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Dear Friends of Alberta Park and Wolf Creek, 
we have this one moment to tell the Rio Grande Forest Service and the US Department of Agriculture's powers-that-be what a destructive boondoggle this luxury Village at 10,500± elevation would be.

But, they'll never listen to you, if you don't contact them!
Here's where to do that, but you need to do it now, September:

Commenting on This Project
The Forest Service values public input. Comments received, including respondents’ names and addresses, will become part of the public record for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; however, anonymous comments will not provide the agency with the ability to provide you with project updates. The Forest Service wishes to provide you with as many opportunities as possible to learn about our activities.

Official Deadline for comments: 9/30/2012. (or is that Friday the 28th, or Monday the 1st?)

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