The wet Net


Note: This article is a sidebar to one of this issue's feature stories, "The myth trafficker," in a special issue about community media in the West.

John Orr created the "Coyote Gulch" blog in 2002 to follow Denver-area politics, but the following November, that topic converged with his other love — Colorado water. Voters were asked to approve the vaguely worded Referendum A, which would have funded a feasibility study of the "Big Straw," a scheme to pump Colorado River water from the western side of the state across the Continental Divide to Denver. The proposal, says Orr, "was kind of like our governor and a bunch of people saying, ‘Give us $2 billion and trust us.’ "

The referendum went down in flames, but Orr, who’s in charge of information technology for the Denver wastewater treatment department, has continued to cover Colorado water, racking up an average of 20 hours a week. The blog provides an excellent, flowing narrative of the moment’s big water events, such as this summer’s massive shutdown of wells on the South Platte River.

"There’s always something new coming up that’s cool," says Orr. "We had fish up in Boulder Creek that are showing both male and female characteristics. They’re finding ibuprofen and acetaminophen in the water coming out of these treatment plants." He remarks on the irony that municipal water providers are facing such a huge public-relations battle in their efforts to treat sewage effluent for reuse as drinking water: "If you’re downstream from any city," he muses, "you’re already drinking effluent."

Find John Orr’s "dazed and confused" coverage of Colorado water at Colorado Water

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