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Booming Colo. town asks, ‘Where will water come from?’

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GREELEY, Colo. (AP) — “Go West, young man,” Horace Greeley famously urged.

The problem for the northern Colorado town that bears the 19th-century newspaper editor’s name: Too many people have heeded his advice.

By the tens of thousands newcomers have been streaming into Greeley — so much so that the city and surrounding Weld County grew by more than 30% from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, making it one of the fastest-growing regions in the country.

And it’s not just Greeley.

Figures released this month show that population growth continues unabated in the South and West, even as temperatures rise and droughts become more common. That in turn has set off a scramble of growing intensity in places like Greeley to find water for the current population, let alone those expected to arrive in coming years.

“Anything we can do to protect our safe water supply is so important,’’ said Dick Maxfield, who has lived in Greeley for nearly 60 years and watched the population nearly quadruple to nearly 110,000, as new arrivals attracted to relatively low housing prices flock to the city 55 miles (85 kilometers) north of Denver and its mix of jobs in energy, health care and agriculture, including a major meat-packing plant.

The dual challenges of population growth and water scarcity are made worse by climate change, said Lisa Dilling, an environmental studies professor at the University of Colorado and director of the Western Water Assessment research program.

“Everybody looks at the population growth and says, ‘Where is the water going to come from?’” Dilling said. “We can still have growth, but we have to make sure we’re thinking ahead. We need to manage the water efficiently and mindfully.″

As a climate change-fueled megadrought engulfs the American West, some communities are going to extremes to protect their water supplies.

In Oakley, Utah, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) east of Salt Lake City, officials imposed a construction moratorium on new homes that would connect to the town’s overburdened water system.

Thornton, Colorado, meanwhile, is fighting legal challenges as it builds a 72-mile pipeline to bring water from a river near Fort Collins to the suburb north of Denver. Crews have started work in northern Colorado with no assurance it will ever be finished.

“If anything stops that burgeoning growth, it will be the lack of water. It’s a limited resource,″ said Dick Jefferies, leader of a northern Colorado chapter of the conservation group Trout Unlimited.

Water has long been a source of pride for Greeley, which was founded in 1870 at the confluence of two rivers, the Cache la Poudre and South Platte. The New York Tribune, Horace Greeley’s newspaper, played a key role in forming what was intended as a utopian, agrarian colony.

The city established its water rights in 1904 and completed its first water treatment facility near the Poudre River three years later, a system still largely in place.

Like other cities in Colorado’s highly populated Front Range, Greeley gets its water in part from the Colorado River and other rivers that are drying up amid the prolonged drought. This week, federal officials declared the first-ever water shortage on the Colorado, triggering mandatory cuts from a river that serves 40 million people in the West.

In Greeley, the cost of new taps, or connections, to the city’s water supply is rising exponentially. “It’s like bitcoin,” one official jokes — the city believes it has ensured its water supply for decades to come.

The City Council unanimously approved a deal this spring to acquire an aquifer 40 miles (64 kilometers) to the northwest, providing 1.2 million acre-feet of water. That’s enough to meet the city’s needs for generations, while offering storage opportunities for dry years. The water from the Terry Ranch aquifer near the Wyoming border will not become the primary source of drinking water, but will be a backup source in dry years.

In exchange for the aquifer — and a $125 million payment to the city for infrastructure — Greeley will issue the site’s former owner, Wingfoot Water Resources, raw water credits that the firm can sell to developers to connect new homes to the city’s water supply.

“In essence, Greeley is trading future revenue for water supplies today,” Adam Jokerst, deputy director of the city’s Water and Sewer Department, said in an interview.

Opponents call the deal a giveaway to a local investment firm and charge that naturally occurring uranium in the aquifer poses a safety hazard. Save Greeley’s Water, a citizens group opposing the purchase, said uranium levels in the aquifer are significantly above federal safety standards.

The city counters that tests show it can remove uranium and other contaminants to levels well below federal drinking water standards. While he understands the concerns, Jokerst said uranium is commonly found — and removed — in water throughout the West.

“It’s a word that has a lot of context and can be scary,” he said. “But Greeley would never deliver unsafe drinking water to its residents, including any water that had detectable uranium.”

John Gauthiere, a former city water engineer who leads the citizens’ group opposed to the aquifer, is skeptical of the city’s assurances that the water will be safe. “Maybe they’re as wrong as Flint, Michigan,” he said.

Gauthiere also predicted that higher costs will be passed on to residents. “You should never sell water rights that belong to the people,” he said.

Wingfoot Vice President Kevin Ross called the deal “a great answer for the city of Greeley” to combat drought and ensure long-term water supply.

Aimee Hutson, owner of Aunt Helen’s Coffee House in downtown Greeley, favors the deal.

“Why would anybody on the water board do something that was dangerous for the citizens of Greeley?″ she asked. “They live here, too. They’re raising their families here, too.”

But Greeley resident Sandi Cummings said city officials had not done enough testing. “This is so upsetting that we are even considering this,″ she said.

The city had little choice but to pursue the aquifer deal after a long-planned expansion of its existing reservoir was abandoned several years ago, Jokerst and other officials said. The expansion would have required a new dam costing up to $500 million, and federal permits were difficult to obtain, in part because of concerns it would damage the habitat of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, which lives in the area and is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

After spending $19 million over more than a decade, “we were basically told we would not be able to get the reservoir (expansion) permitted. It was just not going to be a viable option,″ said Roy Otto, Greeley’s longtime city manager until his retirement this month.

“I believe that providing a secure, safe drinking water source will be the key, not only to Greeley, but to Northern Colorado’s future,” Otto said.

“We know people are going to be coming to Greeley,″ Jokerst said. “We have a supply of land. Now we have water. We have all the ingredients for developers to build here.″

Jeff Lukas, a water and climate analyst in nearby Boulder County, said municipalities rarely use an underground water source so far from city limits. While confident that officials have “done their homework,” Lukas said the project still poses a risk because of the distance from Greeley and possible contaminants in the aquifer, which extends 1,200 feet underground.

“Any aquifer estimate is an inexact science,” Lukas said.

River hydrologist Jeff Crane is skeptical the aquifer will be the long-term solution Greeley expects. Having worked on water projects throughout Colorado, a state that has doubled in population since 1980 and tripled since 1960, he sees the prospects for meeting new water needs diminishing rapidly,

“They’re trying to figure out how to continue to grow on the Front Range without more water,” he said. “Something’s gotta give.”

___

EDITOR’S NOTE — This is the first story in an occasional series looking at the impact of population growth on climate change.



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India tests nuclear-capable missile amid tensions with China

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NEW DELHI (AP) — India has test-fired a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 5,000 kilometers (3,125 miles) from an island off its east coast amid rising border tensions with China.

The successful launch on Wednesday was in line with “India’s policy to have credible minimum deterrence that underpins the commitment to no first use,” said a government statement.

The Agni-5 missile splashed down in the Bay of Bengal with “a very high degree of accuracy,” said the statement issued on Wednesday night.

Beijing’s powerful missile arsenal has driven New Delhi to improve its weapons systems in recent years, with the Agni-5 believed to be able to strike nearly all of China.

India is already able to strike anywhere inside neighboring Pakistan, its archrival against whom it has fought three wars since gaining independence from British colonialists in 1947.

India has been developing its medium- and long-range nuclear and missile systems since the 1990s amid increasing strategic competition with China in a major boost to the country’s defense capabilities.

Tension between them flared last year over a long-disputed section of their border in the mountainous Ladakh area. India is also increasingly suspicious of Beijing’s efforts to heighten its influence in the Indian Ocean.

Talks between Indian and Chinese army commanders to disengage troops from key areas along their border ended in a stalemate earlier this month, failing to ease a 17-month standoff that has sometimes led to deadly clashes. India and China fought a bloody war in 1962.



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Friedman, Dodgers facing decisions on FAs, Bauer this winter

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Andrew Friedman is headed into an offseason filled with crucial decisions involving the Los Angeles Dodgers’ big-name free agents, a rebuild of the starting rotation and Trevor Bauer’s future with the team.

As always, Friedman is guided by the ultimate goal of the monied Dodgers, saying, “The number one objective is to put ourselves in the best position to win in 2022.”

After coming within two wins of reaching the World Series for the fourth time in five years, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations defined the team’s postseason as “our struggle to consistently score runs.”

“We needed someone to step up and pull an Eddie Rosario,” Friedman said, referring to the Atlanta Braves left fielder who was named MVP of the NL Championship Series.

“After we made the Trea Turner deal, in my opinion, one through eight, it was the deepest and best lineup I’ve been around. But it didn’t quite play like that over those two months. It was a little bumpier than I would’ve expected,” he said Wednesday. “Figuring out the why of that is the hard part.”

The turbulence began well before the postseason.

Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Bauer went on paid administrative leave in early July under MLB’s joint domestic violence and sexual assault policy. MLB is conducting its own investigation and has yet to announce any findings. Bauer, through his representatives, has denied any wrongdoing.

Asked if Bauer will pitch for the team again, Friedman said they remain in the same position as before.

“It’s being handled by the league office,” he said. “Whatever they decide, we’ll have to figure out from there what makes the most sense for us.”

If MLB suspends Bauer, it could create a domino effect on the team’s payroll plans.

“The extent of it, I don’t know yet,” Friedman said.

The Dodgers began the season with eight starters and tried to get through the postseason with just Walker Buehler, Max Scherzer and 20-game winner Julio Urías. The lack of depth was exposed by the team’s decisions to use Scherzer in relief in Game 5 of the NL Division Series and Urías out of the bullpen in Game 2 of the NLCS that left both pitchers tired in their later starts.

“We’re got a really good group of young starting pitchers coming,” Friedman said, citing Mitch White, Andre Jackson, Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot and Landon Knack. “Gives us a really strong foundation of depth.”

Friedman and the front office have decisions to make on such key veterans as Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Kenley Jansen and Chris Taylor, who will become free agents after the World Series.

“We’ll do everything we can to keep as many of this group together,” Friedman said, “but not standing in the way of a great opportunity and I’m sure there will be for different people.”

Kershaw, the 33-year-old three-time Cy Young Award winner, reinjured his left arm not long after returning from over a two-month absence for the same issue and wasn’t available to pitch in the postseason.

“He just wants to feel good again and get to the point where he’s healthy,” Friedman said.

Kershaw has spent his entire 14-year career in Los Angeles, where he’s been the longtime face of the franchise.

“There’s something nostalgic and great about Kersh playing for one team and winning another championship and having a parade,” Friedman said.

Offseason moves would be impacted if no agreement on a collective bargaining agreement is reached before the current deal expires Dec. 1.

“We need to be prepared accordingly,” Friedman said.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports





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Senators have heated exchanges with AG Garland over DOJ school board memo

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Senators have heated exchanges with AG Garland over DOJ school board memo



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Drinking Coffee Has Some Super Benefits—Here Are 4 Health Perks of Your Morning Cup

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Nor'easter has New England bracing for floods, power outages

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Nor'easter has New England bracing for floods, power outages



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Trump Jr. Gets A Reality Check After Comparing U.S. To Communist Czechoslovakia

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Donald Trump Jr. was ridiculed this week after he likened shortages of certain products in the U.S. under President Joe Biden to living in communist Czechoslovakia in the 1980s.

Trump Jr. made the remarks during conversation Saturday on Newsmax with Sebastian Gorka, a right-wing media personality and former aide to Donald Trump.

Gorka asked Trump Jr. to discuss the “empty shelves” and backlog of cargo ships in California due to supply-chain issues, given his “perspective” as someone who, “as a child, traveled behind the Iron Curtain and saw real socialism.”

“When conservatives say, ‘They’re socialists. The Democrats have gone radical,’ this isn’t an exaggeration, is it? You’ve seen it, Don,” Gorka added.

Trump Jr.’s mother, Ivana Trump, grew up in Czechoslovakia before moving first to Canada and then the U.S. in the 1970s. He told Gorka his Czech grandparents wanted him to understand the “freedoms and blessings we have here” in the U.S.

“So I traveled with them there every summer, you know, six, eight weeks. I’ve waited in those bread lines,” said Trump Jr., whose father was estimated to be worth more than $1 billion in the 1980s. “We’re starting to see the empty shelves that I experienced then in communist Czechoslovakia in the ’80s in America right now.”

Grocery stores in the U.S. are having problems stocking certain products due to the coronavirus pandemic, a worker shortage and shipping congestion at the Port of Los Angeles.

Some social media users and conservative media personalities have shown images of empty shelves to attack Biden over the supply-chain issues. However, some of these images have turned out to be photos from years ago.

Trump Jr. was slammed on social media for the absurd comparison. A number of people also pointed out that last year, at the peak of the pandemic during the Trump administration, shelves in stores across the country were stripped bare of certain essentials and people lined up for miles in their cars or for blocks on foot to get aid from food banks.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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How a pro-Trump “command center” at a hotel near the White House fueled January 6 efforts to block election certification

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