Front Range water providers release mitigation and enhancement plans as part of the Moffat collection system and Windy Gap firming project review and approval process
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Denver Water is proposing $5 to $7 million worth of mitigation and enhancement measures as part of its plan to increase diversions from the West Slope with the Moffat collection system firming proposal.
The mitigation and and enhancement projects would include habitat improvements for Colorado River cutthroat trout in the Fraser and upper Williams Fork basins, monitoring water temperatures in the Colorado River and other aquatic habitat improvements in the North Fork and the main stem of the South Platte River.
Similarly, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District is proposing to spend an estimated $4.3 million to try and reduce nutrient pollution in Grand Lake, where algae blooms have turned the water to pea soup a few times in recent years. Northern also says it will curtail diversions during the annual Gore Canyon whitewater race if needed and contribute about $400,000 to the Upper Colorado river recovery program.
The draft enhancement and mitigation plans are online at this Colorado Division of Wildlife website.
Denver Water’s Moffat collection system project would provide about 18,000 acre-feet of new water supply to the Front Range through increased diversions from the West Slope during runoff season in average and wet years and via new storage in an enlarged Gross Reservoir, located near Boulder. Most of the water would come from the Fraser River and the Williams Fork River, with another 5.000 acre-feet from the Blue River.
Northern’s Windy Gap firming project involves construction of a new 90,000 acre-foot reservoir in Boulder County to ensure more reliable delivery of water. Current deliveries are limited by the storage capacity in Lake Granby and the delivery capacity of the Adams Tunnel. The firming project would reliably deliver about 30,000 acre-feet of water.
Both projects are currently under review for federal permitting. Click here to learn more about how the West Slope perceives the impacts of the proposed diversions.
Denver Water and Northern have recognized that the two projects could have cumulative impacts on the West Slope river basins and have agreed to cooperate in developing joint mitigation and enhancement measures. The mitigation plans are to address the impacts of the proposed new projects. The enhancement plans are to improve conditions above and beyond the current baseline.
There are huge concerns on the West Slope about the proposed new diversions, especially in Grand County, where locals say the Fraser River is already tapped out. Click here to take a video tour of the Fraser River with Trout Unlimited.
The draft mitigation and enhancement projects are outlined in a series of documents developed in cooperation with the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The documents are available to the public in the Colorado Division of Wildlife website, with a comment period running through Feb. 24.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife has also released some studies of the potential wildlife impacts:
- Moffat Collection System Project Fish and Wildlife Impacts (3MB PDF)
- Windy Gap Firming Project Wildlife Impacts (1MB PDF)
Filed under: Colorado, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Summit County Colorado Tagged: | Colorado River, Denver Water, Moffat Collection system firming, rivers, Summit County News, water, West Slope diversions, Windy Gap firming