Mitigation plans for Windy Gap, Moffat firming projects up for May 6 wildlife commission hearing in Salida, where public comment will be heard
CDOW Aquatic biologist Jon Ewert holds a rainbow trout for measurement while sampling fish populations in the Blue River in Silverthorne, Colorado.
Even monitoring a short section of a stream requires a team of researchers and takes a full day.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — While water managers and elected officials on both sides of the Continental Divide are still busy patting each other on the back for reaching tentative agreement on some water key issues, the hard day-to-day work of protecting fisheries in the streams continues with a May 6 hearing on mitigation plans for two new water projects that could result in additional impacts to West Slope streams.
Conservation advocates acknowledged that the water deal announced last week is a step forward, but also cautioned that the agreement didn’t specifically address future impacts from two major new trans-mountain diversions — Denver Water’s Moffat Tunnel collection system expansion and the Northern Water Conservancy District’s Windy Gap firming projects.
Both projects would result if additional depletions of the Upper Colorado River Basin, where some small tributaries have been almost completely de-watered by diversions to the Front Range, and others are protected by minimum instream flows that may — or may not — be adequate to protect aquatic habitat.
Altogether, the projects have the potential to reduce Colorado River flows to less than 25 percent of their historic native flows. Biologists and anglers have already observed increases in stream temperatures, algae blooms, and declines in fish populations throughout the Colorado River headwaters. Taking more water out of these rivers could be catastrophic if mitigation efforts fall short, according to Trout Unlimited. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Environment, rivers, water, wildlife | Tagged: Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado River, Denver Water, Environment, fisheries, Fraser River, Gore Canyon, Moffat Tunnel firming, Summit County News, Trout, Trout Unlimited, water, Windy Gap firming | Leave a Comment »