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CSU hits water-savings goal, Drake study moves forward, more 

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Water goal attained

Special rates to discourage usage, combined with cool, wet weather, helped Colorado Springs Utilities customers reach the 2013 water-savings goal of 5.8 billion gallons, compared to 2012, Utilities announced last week.

The savings goal was reached more than three weeks before Oct. 1, the end of the typical irrigation season.

However, Utilities said in a release that customers are urged to continue conservation efforts and abide by restrictions, which limit outdoor watering to twice a week, which remain in effect until Dec. 31. — PZ

More Morse? Go online.

You know what they say: It ain't over until the frazzled poll worker slams the door in your face.

The fraught recall election of state Senate President John Morse will draw to a close at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 10. Unfortunately, that's after the Independent's deadline. However, we encourage you to visit our blog at csindy.com for results and post-election insights. — JAS

Drake study moves ahead

In an online update, the Drake Task Force outlined alternatives to be studied in determining the way forward on the coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant downtown.

Among the dozen options that will under go financial analysis: retire the plant in 2033; retire the plant in 2019 with one unit retired in 2016; retire Drake in 2028 and abandon the plant or remediate the site; retire the plant in 2022; choose timing based on lowest net cost; choose timing based on social, economic and environmental factors; retire the plant in 2022 and replace capacity with 30 percent renewables, such as wind; convert Drake to natural gas.

The task force is expected to deliver a list of alternatives to the Utilities Board, made up of City Council, by year's end. The task force meets again at 1 p.m. on Nov. 6 at 121 S. Tejon St., fifth floor. To submit a comment or read those from others, go to draketaskforce.net. — PZ

Trauma 1 label sought

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services is seeking certification of Penrose Hospital as a Level 1 trauma center, the system announced Friday.

The hospital, on North Cascade Avenue, currently is a Level 2 trauma center, while St. Francis Medical Center in northeast Colorado Springs is a Level 4.

It's unlikely the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will give both Penrose and Memorial Hospital the same Level 1 designation, so Penrose's application sets up a competition. Memorial officials had announced earlier their intention of achieving Level 1 status.

"If a Level 1 trauma center is needed in southern Colorado, it absolutely should be at Penrose Hospital," Margaret Sabin, president and CEO of Penrose-St. Francis, said in a release. Penrose-St. Francis is part of Centura Health, which in 2009 launched the Centura Health Trauma System now consisting of 14 trauma centers, Flight for Life Colorado and the state's largest EMS support system, the release said.

Sabin noted that Penrose-St. Francis has seen its trauma market share grow over the past few years. Memorial, now run by University of Colorado Health under a 40-year lease, used to be the de facto place to take trauma patients and got the bulk of such cases. — PZ

Fake pot probe under way

Various health organizations launched an investigation last week after hospitals in Colorado reported patients seeking help for effects from smoking synthetic marijuana.

"Initial reports show approximately 75 people who reported smoking a form of synthetic marijuana may have been seen at hospitals in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs beginning in late August," Dr. Tista Ghosh, state interim chief medical officer, said in a release. "Several individuals were in intensive care and three deaths are being investigated as possibly associated."

The State Department of Public Health and Environment, the Tri-County Health Department and Denver Health are participating. The Centers for Disease Control is sending a team of four, including a toxicologist and epidemiologist, to assist.

Synthetic marijuana is marketed under names such as Black Mamba, Monkey Spice, K2, Twilight, Spice and Herbal Incense. ("Incense nonsense," July 22, 2010.) No single product has been identified as the source for these reported illnesses, state health officials said. — PZ

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