Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

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Check out the list of water conservancy districts in Colorado from Colorado State University.

Category: Colorado Water

6:12:42 PM    

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From email from the Bureau of Reclamation (Kara Lamb): "As inflows to Green Mountain Reservoir continue to come down, so do our releases to the Lower Blue. This afternoon, we dropped releases another 140 cfs. There should be around 500 cfs in the Lower Blue, this evening."

Category: Colorado Water

6:00:36 PM    

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Here's an update about the Yampa River Pumpback from The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. They write:

Some call it the Yampa River Pumpback. Others call it the Yampa Straw or just the Yampa Project. Whatever it's called, the Berthoud-based Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District wants to divert 20 percent of the Yampa River's annual flow to the Front Range to keep northeastern Colorado farmland green. Farmland there is drying up, and the only way the region can maintain its open space, aesthetics and strong agricultural economy is to make sure there's enough water to go around, conservancy district spokesman Brian Werner said...

The project, which would carry a $3.2 billion price tag, would divert water from a new 500,000-acre-foot reservoir near Maybell and pipe it 250 miles over the Continental Divide to the northern Front Range. For the time being, the project is treading water because the district is unable to finance the project on its own, and the district is interested in the outcome of a state-conducted Western Slope water-availability study mandated by Senate Bill 122. To get the project done, he said, it would take a state effort, Werner said...

Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, said he fears a Yampa River pumpback would make it more difficult for the state to deliver enough Colorado River water downstream to meet its obligations under the Colorado River Compact. "I have a hard time supporting the concept unless the water to be used is going to be supplanted by water currently being diverted (from the Fraser River)," he said, adding he fears the district's plan is to supplement the Fraser diversion. That means the Western Slope has less water, he said. It would also mean less water would flow into Dinosaur National Monument, where the Yampa River is known for its wildness and is responsible for much of the sediment deposited into the Green River.

White said a Yampa River pumpback could degrade the recreational use of the river through Dinosaur National Monument and hurt the region's recreation economy. The river is known for its high flows, and if those are diminished, so is rafting in all the canyons downstream of the monument, said Kent Vertrees, a member of both Friends of the Yampa and the Yampa-White River Basin Roundtable. "The Yampa River has endangered fish that rely on these water flows," he said. "The ecology of the system has to do with the cottonwood forests that depend on the peak flows." The Friends of the Yampa Web site calls the river "the last, the longest and the largest free-flowing, most intact river system remaining in the West, (and it is) the crown jewel of the Upper Colorado River system."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water

7:27:12 AM    

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Here's Part III of The Denver Post's series on the South Platte River. In this article they talk about the proposed Two Forks Dam and recreation downstream of Deckers. They write:

In the early 1970s, Denver Water was eyeing the confluence of the south fork and north fork for a massive reservoir that was being touted as the final answer to Denver's unquenchable thirst. The 615-foot tall, $1 billion Two Forks Dam would have created a 1.1 million acre-feet impoundment that would have reached nearly 30 miles up the South Fork, 7 miles up the North Fork and created a 7,300-acre lake. "All the existing recreation on the North Fork and the South Fork for several miles would be gone. The South Fork is such a fantastic place to learn to kayak. That's where I learned. And Waterton Canyon was so unique, so close to such a major city," said Ben Harding, a Boulder hydrologist who, as a young and avid kayaker in the 1970s, joined a chorus of environmental opponents to the Two Forks Dam. The idea of a dam in the narrow canyon above Strontia Springs Reservoir is not dead. In a mid-1990s agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to not designate the South Platte a federal "wild and scenic river" (which would have handed control of the river over to the federal agency), Denver Water agreed to temporarily shelve its plans for the state's largest dam. "We agreed not to build Two Forks for 20 years, and we would try to find that water elsewhere," Denver Water resource engineer Marc Waage said, noting that his organization still owns a big chunk of land at the meeting of the forks.

Two Forks arrived at a passionate point in America's environmental movement, a time when there was a sweeping acrimony toward dams and the dam-building frenzy of the late 1950s. While the fight over Two Forks raged, Denver Water built the 7,700 acre-foot Strontia Springs Reservoir, considered an "afterbay" for Two Forks that would help regulate power, creating releases from the massive lake and hydropower dam upstream. Completed in 1983 as part of Denver Water's "Foothills Project," the 243- foot Strontia Springs Dam plugged a wild canyon.

Category: Colorado Water

7:13:48 AM    

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