Muddy Mine Waters Spill into Sneffels Creek in Ouray County

October 30, 2014


Aspinall Unit update: Uncompahgre Water Users scheduled to turn off Friday

October 28, 2014
Gunnison Tunnel via the National Park Service

Gunnison Tunnel via the National Park Service

From email from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Erik Knight):

“Releases from Crystal Dam will be decreased from 950 cfs to 450 cfs on Friday, October 31st between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. The Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association will be shutting down diversions at the Gunnison Tunnel on Friday. Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1050 cfs. River flows are expected to stay above the baseflow target for the foreseeable future.

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 1050 cfs for September through December.

Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are around 550 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 350 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will be zero and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will be around 450 cfs.


Aspinall Unit operation update: 350 cfs in Black Canyon

October 27, 2014
Black Canyon via the National Park Service

Black Canyon via the National Park Service

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Releases from Crystal Dam will be decreased from 1050 cfs to 950 cfs on Monday, October 27th at 10:00 AM. The Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association will be decreasing diversions at the Gunnison Tunnel Monday morning. Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1050 cfs. River flows are expected to stay above the October baseflow target for the foreseeable future.

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 1050 cfs for September through December.

Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are around 700 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 350 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will be around 600 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will still be around 350 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.


Aspinall Unit update: 350 cfs in Black Canyon

October 22, 2014
Blue Mesa Reservoir

Blue Mesa Reservoir

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Releases from Crystal Dam will be decreased from 1150 cfs to 1050 cfs on Wednesday, October 22nd at 10:00 AM. The Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association will be decreasing diversions to the Gunnison Tunnel Wednesday morning. Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1050 cfs. River flows are expected to stay above the October baseflow target for the foreseeable future.

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 1050 cfs for September through December.

Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are around 800 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 350 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will be around 700 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will still be around 350 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.


Reclamation Releases the Final Environmental Assessment for Two Salinity Control Projects

October 15, 2014

Uncompahgre River Valley looking south

Uncompahgre River Valley looking south


Here’s the release from the US Bureau of Reclamation (Terry Stroh/Justyn Hock):

Reclamation announced today that it has released a final environmental assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for two proposed salinity control projects. The documents assessed and addressed the potential effects of the Bostwick Park Water Conservancy District’s Siphon Lateral Salinity Control Project in Montrose County, Colorado and the Forked Tongue/Holman Ditch Company’s Salinity Control Project located in Delta County, Colorado.

The Bostwick Park Project will pipe 1.76 miles of existing earthen ditch and will result in an annual reduction of 413 tons of salt contributions to the Colorado River. The Forked Tongue/Holman Ditch Project will pipe 1.89 miles of existing earthen ditch and will result in an annual reduction of 412 tons of salt contributions to the Colorado River. The purpose of both projects is to improve the efficiency of water delivery to canal users and reduce salinity loading in the Colorado River Basin.


Wringing juice from irrigation canals — Mountain Town News

October 15, 2014
South Canal hydroelectric site

South Canal hydroelectric site

From the Mountain Town News (Allen Best):

In 1909, President William Howard Taft arrived in Montrose on a train to dedicate one of the federal government’s first reclamation projects. With aid of federal funds, a 5.8-mile tunnel was bored from the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River to divert water onto the fertile fields of the Uncompahgre Valley.

Even when the portly president (he weighed 340 pounds and once overflowed a bathtub), there was talk in Montrose about harnessing the power of fast-moving water to produce electricity. Emerging from the Bureau of Reclamation’s tunnel from April through October, the time of irrigation, the water churns with great power as it tumbles toward the 80,000 acres of irrigation around the towns of Montrose and Delta.

At long last, electrical production began last year. The first small hydroelectric plant began generation in June 2013 and the second two months later. Both were developed by Delta-Montrose Electrical Association. Together, the two units can produce 7.5 megawatts of electricity.

Two more are now being built, both by a private company called Shavano Falls Hydro. They are expected to be completed in spring of 2015 and produce a maximum 7.6 megawatts.

The four units altogether will produce 15.1 megawatts.

Delta-Montrose will sell the power to co-op members, while Shavano will sell the power to Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska. Among others, MEAN sells energy to the municipalities of Delta and Aspen.

Jim Heneghan, renewable electricity engineer for Delta-Montrose, says the return on investment is 11 years. However, a better way of calculating the investment may be that it produces electricity for 3 cents per kilowatt hour more cheaply than the power delivered by wholesale supplier Tri-State Generation and Transmission.

Both these figures are without a rate increase in the wholesale price. Coal-fired electricity has been rising rapidly in cost, however. The water will be essentially free and the turbines should last at least 50 years before they need to be retooled.

More hydroelectric/hydropower coverage here.


Aspinall Unit update: 350 cfs in Black Canyon

October 14, 2014
Aspinall Unit

Aspinall Unit

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Releases from Crystal Dam will be decreased from 1250 cfs to 1150 cfs on Wednesday, October 15th at 8:00 AM. Releases are being decreased to time with the brown trout spawn. Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1050 cfs. River flows have remained relatively high due to the September rains and flows are expected to stay above the October baseflow target for the foreseeable future.

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 1050 cfs for September through December.

Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are around 800 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 450 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will still be around 800 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will be around 350 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.


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