@rfconservancy: Join us next Thursday Sept 4th for our annual Carbondale Bicycle Ditch Tour

August 27, 2014

Aspinall unit operations update: 1100 cfs through the Gunnison Tunnel diversion

August 27, 2014

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Releases from Crystal Dam will be reduced from 1800 cfs to 1600 cfs on Tuesday, August 26th at 4:00 PM. Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1500 cfs. Significant rainfall has been occurring in the basin this week and the river forecast shows flows continuing to remain above the target for the 10 day forecast period.

Pursuant to the Aspinall Unit Operations Record of Decision (ROD), the baseflow target in the lower Gunnison River, as measured at the Whitewater gage, is 1500 cfs for August. For September, the baseflow target will be 1050 cfs.

Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are 1100 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 750 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will still be 1100 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon should be around 550 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.


The Colorado River District, et. al., are closely monitoring the settling of Ritschard Dam (Wolford Mountain) #ColoradoRiver

August 27, 2014

Ritschard Dam and Wolford Mountain Reservoir

Ritschard Dam and Wolford Mountain Reservoir


From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Lance Maggart):

Ritschard Dam impounds Wolford Mountain Reservoir, located on Muddy Creek just north of Kremmling. Construction on the Dam was completed in 1995 and falls under the auspices of the dam’s owners the Colorado River Water Conservation District.

Ritschard Dam is an earth-filled dam. As [Jim] Pokrandt explained, “With anything involving earth, settlement is expected.”

Unfortunately, as Pokrandt went on to explain, a portion of the dam has settled faster than the dam designers expected.

“The variations are small, but there is an abundance of caution,” he said…

“We are monitoring the conditions at the dam. The dam is not considered unsafe,” said Bill McCormick, chief of the Dam Safety Branch of the Division of Water Resources.

McCormick explained, “approximately four to five years ago there were anomalous instrumentation readings showing the dam had settled unexpectedly in ways that were not predicted in the design.”

“We have not identified a safety concern that has required us to put a restriction on the reservoir,” he pointed out.

According to Pokrandt, construction equipment visible on the dam is part of ongoing work to install measuring devices to gauge both water levels and movements within the dam.

Data collection and analysis regarding settlement of the earth-fill structure has been under way for several years now and the process will continue.

Pokrandt explained that any construction on the dam undertaken by the District, “will be very expensive” and the District wanted more information and data before any decisions were made regarding new construction.

More infrastructure coverage here.


CWC Summer Conference recap: Managing the supply from the #ColoradoRiver and #drought

August 27, 2014
Colorado River Basin

Colorado River Basin

From Aspen Public Radio (Marci Krivonen):

As cities grow and climate change continues, water managers are nervous. In the middle of a drought in 2012, they began to lay out a contingency plan. John McClow is President of the Colorado Water Congress. He says the idea was to come up with solutions in case the drought continued.

“Well it didn’t, as you know. But, we still feel like the potential is there and we need to have that plan in hand in order to be prepared should it occur. Because the results are catastrophic.”

McClow joined others from the seven Colorado River basin states on Wednesday in Snowmass Village to discuss how to respond to extreme drought.

One state that depends on the river is Arizona. Tom McCann manages the Central Arizona Project that delivers water to 5 million people. He says his organization could lose one-fifth of its supply by 2017.

“So what have we been doing to prepare for this coming shortage and the issues that we see on the river. One of the things we’ve done for some time now is to invest in system conservation and efficiency type projects,” he says.

His group is spending millions to conserve water. They’re also storing the resource underground and funding weather modification programs – like cloud seeding – in upper basin states, such as Colorado and Wyoming.

Still, there’s a problem, McCann says. The lower basin states, like Arizona, use more water than they get from Lake Mead so they depend on “equalization releases” from Lake Powell. Lake Powell supplies the upper basin with water.

“All of us in the lower basin and the basin in general, share the same risk. It’s the risk of Lake Powell going down creates risk of Lake Mead going down. The two reservoirs are operated together. We all live and die together as a basin,” McCann said…

Utah is one of the upper basin states. [Eric] Millis’ primary concern is that drought will bring Lake Powell down to critical levels. His state is expanding weather modification projects, looking to draw more water from upper basin reservoirs and increasing water conservation efforts…

“We’ve also been experiencing above-normal temperatures,” says Tanya Trujillo with the Colorado River Board of California. She says the temperatures have been “really increasing the challenges of trying to keep the water resources down. The hotter it is, the more water that tends to be applied, especially in outdoor situations.”

She says the Colorado River is the “good news” story for California this year because a full supply – partly from a good Colorado snowpack – helped fill a gap from dry California reservoirs.

The state has historically used water other lower basin states didn’t need but, that’s changing. Now states like Arizona are growing and need their full share. So, California’s investing in efficiency projects and fallowing farmland in order to transfer that water to cities.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.


There are 44 transbasin diversions in Colorado that move water between river basins. Tour some with CFWE! #ColoradoRiver

August 26, 2014

2014-15 State of the Rockies Project

August 26, 2014

stateoftherockies2014to2015
Click here to go to the project website.

Click here for information on the first speakers series event. Here’s an excerpt:

“Sharing Water: What an Environmental Experiment in Mexico can Teach us About the Future of the Colorado River”, Monday, September 8, 2014, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

The first event of the 2014-15 State of the Rockies Speakers Series will feature journalist and author John Fleck. Fleck’s writing centers on water issues in the Southwest and the multitude of issues associated with the Colorado River Basin. His talk will focus on the recent work to reconnect the Colorado River with the Sea of Cortez, and the foundation for collaboration that has been laid for the future. Fleck’s blog can be found here: http://www.inkstain.net/fleck/.

More education coverage here.


USGS: Analysis of Water Quality in the Blue River Watershed, Colorado, 1984 through 2007

August 26, 2014
Blue River

Blue River

Here’s the release from the United States Geological Service (Nancy J. Bauch, Lisa D. Miller, and Sharon Yacob):

Water quality of streams, reservoirs, and groundwater in the Blue River watershed in the central Rocky Mountains of Colorado has been affected by local geologic conditions, historical hard-rock metal mining, and recent urban development. With these considerations, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Summit Water Quality Committee, conducted a study to compile historical water-quality data and assess water-quality conditions in the watershed. To assess water-quality conditions, stream data were primarily analyzed from October 1995 through December 2006, groundwater data from May 1996 through September 2004, and reservoir data from May 1984 through November 2007. Stream data for the Snake River, upper Blue River, and Tenmile Creek subwatersheds upstream from Dillon Reservoir and the lower Blue River watershed downstream from Dillon Reservoir were analyzed separately. (The complete abstract is provided in the report)

Click here to read the report.

More USGS coverage here.


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