water quality, endangered species issues still unresolved
The complex permitting process for a pair of new Colorado water supply projects has been delayed yet again, as federal agencies continue to study the impacts of new diversions from the Colorado River and enlarged reservoirs on the Front Range.
FRISCO — Flows in the Lower Blue River, below Dillon Dam, are going up again.
With snowmelt speeding up under warm and sunny skies, Denver is boosting the outflow to 1,800 cfs to avoid a scenario where Dillon Reservoir spills at a level that causes outflows to go over that level.
That’s exactly what could happen without upping controlled releases now, Denver Water spokesman Matt Wittern said via email.
“Our experts predict that, if we maintained 1,700 cfs outflow and inflows remain around 2,400, Dillon Reservoir would be full and spilling within a week,” Wittern said. That could bring excessive flows and the potential for flooding below Dillon Reservoir.
Wittern said Denver Water is estimating the remaining snowpack in the Blue River as equivalent to between five and seven inches of water near Hoosier and Fremont passes.
That snow is melting fast, with no letup in sight. Inflows from runoff into Dillon Reservoir averaged 2,467 cfs Tuesday, which was well above current and planned outflows. And those inflows aren’t expected to drop below 1,700 cfs in the next seven days, which means Dillon Reservoir will continue to fill quickly, at the rate of about six inches per day. As of Wednesday, the reservoir was 3.25 feet below capacity.
Wittern also explained that Denver Water can’t legally divert water through the Roberts Tunnel if it’s not needed.
“Right now water levels are very high on the South PIatte River, eliminating this action as an option,” he said.
Troy Wineland, state water commissioner for the Blue River, said property owners in the Lower Blue who face flooding risks can prepare by perusing Summit County’s High Water Preparedness” manual which includes instructions on sandbag preparation and placement, as well as free sand / bag supply locations.
Wineland also said water users in the Lower Blue should be aware that higher flows will push more water through diversions, possibly over-topping in irrigation ditches.
*Story corrected at 2 p.m. Dillon Reservoir outflow to the Blue River increased to 1,600 cfs Monday, July 15.
FRISCO — Dillon Reservoir should be full within a week, according to the latest update from Denver Water, which just bumped up the outflow to the Lower Blue to make room for more runoff the next few days.
As of June 15, Denver Water was releasing about 1.600 cubic feet per second from Dillon Reservoir, with about 2,200 cfs flowing in from the Blue River and its tributaries. And Denver Water is expecting more high inflows for the foreseeable future, according to a recent email update:
“A fresh look at the estimated level of snowpack above Dillon Reservoir … tells us there is still eight inches of snow in some places, meaning high flows can be expected for the foreseeable future. The good news is that inflows to Dillon Reservoir – which have ranged from 2,206 to 2,623 over the past several days – appear to be trending downward.”Continue reading “Summit County: Dillon Reservoir expected to fill within a week”→
FRISCO — Late-season storms have helped boost snowpack in the Blue River to near last year’s level, promising healthy runoff and flows in Summit County, according to Denver Water.
The effects of the steady barrage of spring storms is already showing up the Lower Blue River, where flows are increasing due to increased releases from Dillon Reservoir, according to Denver Water, which won’t be diverting water through the Roberts Tunnel until mid-July at the earliest. Continue reading “Colorado: Big flows expected in Blue River”→
Near critical shortages in California prompt action
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — With Colorado River water supplies disappearing at a dizzying rate, and with a thirsty — and politically mighty — California parched by drought, the biggest water users at the table said this week they’ll invest $11 million to try and conserve significant amounts of water across all sectors, including including agricultural, municipal and industrial uses.
The Central Arizona Project, Denver Water, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Southern Nevada Water Authority all signed on to what is being presented as a landmark water conservation agreement aimed at demonstrating “the viability of cooperative, voluntary compensated measures,” according to a press release from Denver Water. Continue reading “Major Colorado River players announce conservation push”→
Boulder County gets high-level backup on request for comment period extension on major new transmountain water diversion
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Boulder County’s request for more time to comment on the proposed Moffat Tunnel Collection System expansion got some high-level backup this week, as Sen. Michael Bennet formally asked the federal government for an extension.
Denver Water’s proposed new diversions from Colorado River headwaters in Grand County, specifically the Fraser River, are under federal scrutiny as the Corps considers issuing a permit for the enlargement of Gross Reservoir in Boulder County. The federal agency released the final version of a massive environmental study in April, setting a June 9 deadline for comment.