Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Monday, January 8, 2007

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The Montrose Daily Press reports that the Gunnison River Basin snowpack is slightly below average. They write, "Snowpack for the Gunnison Basin is slightly below average, although it's still early in the snow season. Snowpack measurements taken by the Natural Resources Conservation Service indicate that the storms that blanketed the Front Range and eastern Plains last month didn't leave as much snow in the Gunnison Basin. The basin is currently at 91 percent of its 30-year average for this time of year. 'Right now it's awful early to tell what our season is going to be,' said Marc Catlin, manager of the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association. Last year at this time, Catlin noted, snowpack was at 112 percent of average and dwindled to 70 percent by March...

"Catlin added that the lower Uncompahgre Valley has gotten more moisture than normal this year, although there's no way to store any of that runoff. It has, however, built up moisture levels in the soil."

Category: Colorado Water

6:14:23 AM    

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From an article about western slope legislators and their proposed bills this year, from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, "[State Representative Kathleen] Curry's fifth bill, a projects bill, will include provisions to spend $500,000 to study various water projects, including diverting water from the Blue Mesa Reservoir to the Front Range."

Category: Colorado Water

6:07:38 AM    

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Here's an article about the study of the feasibility of moving Yampa River water to the Front Range by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, from the Craig Daily Press. From the article, "A recently completed study -- searching for ways Colorado can meet future water demands -- includes the possible construction of a reservoir near Maybell 20-times the size of the Elkhead Reservoir. The study, commissioned by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, was conducted by consulting firm Black & Veatch Corporation and completed Jan. 2. The investigation looked at the possibility of diverting water from the Yampa River at a diversion point below Maybell, downstream of major Yampa River water rights for irrigation, municipal and industrial uses. The study suggests the project could yield more than 300,000 acre-feet of water annually, diverted through a series of pumps, pipes and tunnels to the Front Range. A 500,000-acre foot reservoir would be constructed near Maybell to store water before it makes its way over the continental divide by pipeline to a reservoir on the Front Range...

"The study notes that water diversion is limited to high runoff months, meaning it would never reduce the Yampa River's flow to less than 1,000 cubic-feet-per-second, known as cfs. The project would only take water out of the Yampa River that is currently flowing out of state, diverting about 20-percent of the Yampa River's water that currently leaves Colorado. All water rights holders will receive their allotted water, and earlier water agreements will be guaranteed, including the Colorado River Compact of 1922, and the 1948 Compact, which guarantees that Colorado will not cause the flow of the Yampa River at the Maybell gauging station to fall below a total of 5 million acre feet for any period of 10 consecutive years. The study estimates the project's cost at $3.2 billion to deliver 300,000 acre-feet of water to the northern Front Range yearly. Three possible routes for the pipeline to the Front Range were explored in the study, all with objectives of avoiding wilderness areas and national parks, while minimizing impacts to forest service lands and utilizing existing corridors for utilities...

"Two sites were considered for the reservoir in Moffat County, including Spring Creek northeast of Maybell, and Sand Creek northwest of Maybell. The Sand Creek site would require a 4,400-foot long dam that is 280 feet tall, and the Spring Creek site would require a 2,500-foot long dam rising 253 feet above the canyon floor. The storage facility's size was based on flow records from the Maybell gauging station kept since 1917. The Yampa was chosen partly for its water quality, which is superior to that of the Colorado and Green rivers, according to the study. A 75,000 acre-foot reservoir is recommended on the Eastern Slope by the study."

Category: Colorado Water

5:59:29 AM    

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Here's an article we missed about the role that playa lakes have in re-charging aquifers and providing habitat, from the Denver Post. From the article, "The Eastern Plains are dotted with depressions in the land that fill with water, support wildlife, then drain as seasons change. Some 2,500 playa lakes are cyclical homes to wildlife and replenish the Ogallala Aquifer. 'Playas ... Gems of the Plains', a traveling exhibit, explains the importance of these wetlands. Learn more at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge through Feb. 11. Viewing hours are 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays...

"The tiny lakes have clay-lined basins and periodically fill with water, mostly from rainfall and other precipitation. More than 200 species of birds spend time at these small depressions, which number 60,000 throughout the High Plains region. But the playas are endangered, especially those found in croplands. Fertilizer runoff and other contaminants threaten the lakes. So does sediment runoff, which reduces the amount of water a basin can hold. In other instances, the lakes have been altered to hold more water for irrigation purposes. The lakes recharge the Ogallala Aquifer, studies have found. Most of the playas are on private land, and while many landowners feel the lakes have a positive effect on the land, others consider them an inconvenience because they reduce the amount of land that can be farmed...

"Playa facts: More than 60,000 playa lakes are found in the High Plains; Playas support 37 mammal species; more than 200 bird species, including the sandhill cranes and mountain plovers; 340 plant species; and 13 amphibian species; More than 90 percent of the lakes are privately owned; Playas are the primary source of recharge for the Ogallala Aquifer."

Category: Colorado Water

5:43:39 AM    

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