New growth in delta could offset CO2 released from riverbed
Human management of natural ecosystems always has unintended consequences, and the Colorado River is no exception. After decades of intense dam building and diversions, the mighty river is a mere shadow of it former self, reduced to a trickle in some places and polluted by return flows in others. Along its entire length, ecosystems, including riparian zones and native fish, have suffered, with some of the biggest impacts in the Colorado River delta.
In an effort to restore at least some key reaches of the river, scientists and water managers have teamed up to try mimic some of the Colorado’s natural functions, with controlled releases of water to build up beaches. Those efforts culminated in early 2014 during an eight-week experiment that unleashed a mighty torrent of water from Morelos dam (on the border with Mexico and the USA).
The huge surge (130 million cubic metres) of water raised river levels down to the delta, which has been starved of water for decades. Scientists closely monitored how the release — and potential future releases — affect agricultural crops and natural plant and animal life of the lower delta.
Annual State of the River meetings will update residents on water planning
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — While spring snowfall has brought some relief to small parts of Colorado, the majority of the state is still gripped by one of the worst droughts on record. The southeastern plains and the southwest mountains in particular have experienced a string of dry years, leaving soil moisture well below normal.
Statewide reservoir storage is also near historic low levels, and even with decent spring runoff in a few river basins, water managers will be scrambling to try and refill key s like Dillon and Green Mountain reservoirs. Continue reading “Colorado: No doubt, still a drought”→
Colorado River District hosts annual water seminar this week in Grand Junction
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — With some climate change models predicting significantly decreased flows in the Colorado River, water managers are grappling with planning for a time when demand in the basin may exceed supply.
Cooperative releases from headwaters reservoirs will help sustain environmental and recreational values
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — With some of the lowest stream flows on record for this time of year, Colorado water managers are wrangling every last drop and trying to make them all count.
Upstream storage and diversions have exacerbated the low flows resulting from a meager snowpack and early runoff. As a result, water temperatures in parts of the Colorado River recently have already reached temperatures close to 60 degrees, which is borderline dangerous for trout. Those temperature readings were measured at a gage in the Pumphouse area, according to Jim Pokrandt, communications specialist with the Colorado River District.
Average Colorado River flows through Glenwood Canyon this time of year are about 6,000 cfs, but this year, the river has been flowing at less than 20 percent of that, at about 1,100 cfs.
Looking to raise stream flows, the Colorado River District, Denver Water and the Bureau of Reclamation are cooperating under the Shoshone outage protocol, which helps sustain flows along the Colorado River mainstem with water from Wolford Mountain Reservoir, Williams Fork Reservoir and Green Mountain Reservoir — even when Xcel’s Shoshone power plant isn’t exercising a senior water right that historically keeps at least some water in the river during dry seasons and years. Continue reading “Water: Scrambling to sustain Colorado River flows”→
This year’s presentation to focus on low stream flows and reservoir operations in the face of a potential drought
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — What a difference a year makes.
In early May 2011, Colorado water managers were sounding the alarm about possible flooding as they eyed one of the biggest snowpacks on record. Just 12 months later, some water providers are implementing conservation measures as the state faces drought conditions.
This year’s record-low snowpack and unprecedented early runoff in the Colorado River Basin will present water users with challenges, as ranchers in the Lower Blue grapple with irrigation and municipal water providers try figure out how to keep their reservoirs as full as possible while still meeting demand.
SUMMIT COUNTY — Communities and nonprofit groups looking at water projects that benefit environmental and recreational water needs involving the Colorado River and its tributaries could get a little help from the Colorado Basin Roundtable.
The Roundtable has up to $2 million earmarked in its water supply reserve fund (administered by the Colorado Water Conservation Board) that will be awarded through a statewide competitive grant program.
Although there is no limitation to grant requests, typical grants are about $200,000. CBRT hopes to identify up to five projects for near-term funding and implementation, other projects may be considered for long-term prioritization.
The Roundtable is sponsoring an informal workshop on March 15 to help potential project applicants with the funding process. The workshop is from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Blue River Room of the North Branch Library in Silverthorne.
Interested parties should prepare a short project summary based on criteria that can be found on the Colorado River District website at www.ColoradoRiverDistrict.org or by calling Jacob Bornstein, CWCB (303-866-3441) or Lane Wyatt, CBRT (970-468-0295 ext 116).