The Aspinall Unit operations meeting minutes are hot off the presses #ColoradoRiver

February 25, 2015

Aspinall Unit dams

Aspinall Unit dams


Click here to read the minutes from the recent Aspinall Unit Operations meeting.


Beautiful photo of a snowy Uncompahgre river — Colorado River Watch #ColoradoRiver

February 21, 2015


Aspinall Unit operations update: Releases from Crystal Dam to decrease today

February 5, 2015
Aspinall Unit

Aspinall Unit

From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Releases from Crystal Dam will be decreased from 800 cfs to 600 cfs on Thursday, February 5th at 9:00 AM. This release decrease is in response to the declining runoff forecast for Blue Mesa Reservoir. The current forecast for April-July unregulated inflow to Blue Mesa Reservoir is 620,000 acre-feet which is 92% of average.

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 February.

Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are zero and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 850 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will still be zero and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon should be around 650 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.


Aspinall Unit operations update

January 23, 2015


From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):

Releases from Crystal Dam will be decreased from 1100 cfs to 800 cfs on the morning of Monday, January 26th. This release decrease is in response to the declining runoff forecast for Blue Mesa Reservoir. The current forecast for April-July unregulated inflow to Blue Mesa Reservoir is 660,000 acre-feet which is 98% of average.

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 January through March.

Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are zero and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 1150 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will still be zero and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon should be around 850 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.


Water Lines: $8 million grant to fund Colorado irrigation improvements

January 20, 2015

RCPP Proposals map via the USDA

RCPP Proposals map via the USDA


From the Grand Junction Free Press (Hannah Holm):

Concern about environmental and water supply conditions in the Colorado River Basin helped a group of farmers and their partners in the lower Gunnison River Basin net an $8 million grant from the federal government to line and pipe open canal systems and to convert fields from flood irrigation to more efficient sprinkler, micro spray and drip systems.

The irrigation improvements will enable farmers to maintain or improve production with smaller diversions from rivers and streams. Reductions in the amount of water that soaks through the ground and back into tributaries of the Gunnison River as a result of flood irrigation and unlined canals will also improve water quality by reducing the amount of salt and selenium leaching out of soils and into the river. High salt levels in the river harm the productivity of downstream farms, while high selenium levels harm sensitive fish and bird species.

Projects funded by the grant will be implemented in partnership with four irrigation entities in different parts of the lower Gunnison Basin: the Bostwick Park Water Conservancy District southeast of Montrose; the Crawford Water Conservancy District near Crawford; the North Fork Water Conservancy District near Paonia and Hotchkiss; and the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, located primarily between Montrose and Delta.

In a statement from the Colorado River District, the lead partner on the project, Colorado River District Senior Water Engineer Dave Kanzer, said: “This grant is a big ‘win-win-win’ for agricultural, economic and environmental sustainability.”

“It will really help our agricultural producers implement new conservation practices that not only produce more ‘crop per drop’ of water but significantly reduce their environmental footprint,” Kanzer continued.

This project builds on previous similar initiatives, but is distinguished from them by its scale, the fact that it is part of an integrated, basin-wide strategy and the leadership role taken by farmers. Participating farmers have organized themselves and partner organizations into a group called “No Chico Brush.” Chico Brush, also known as greasewood, would likely dominate the valleys of the lower Gunnison Basin if irrigated agriculture were to disappear.

The Colorado River District expects the $8 million federal grant to leverage additional funding from other sources for a total of around $50 million. The federal funds were allocated through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, an element of the 2015 Farm Bill. The competitiveness of the Gunnison Basin proposal benefitted from the fact that the Gunnison River lies within the Colorado River Basin, which the program identified as a “critical conservation area.”

The critical conservation area designation for the Colorado River Basin is due to a persistent regional drought that is exacerbating water supply and demand imbalances, as well as degradation of soil quality, water quality, and wildlife habitat. Agricultural irrigation is the largest consumer of water in the basin.

To learn more about the lower Gunnison irrigation improvement project, contact Kanzer at dkanzer@crwcd.org.

To learn more about the Regional Conservation Partnership Project, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/farmbill/rcpp.

This is part of a series of articles coordinated by the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University in cooperation with the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables to raise awareness about water needs, uses and policies in our region. To learn more about the basin roundtables and statewide water planning, and to let the roundtables know what you think, go to http://www.coloradomesa.edu/WaterCenter. You can also find the Water Center on Facebook at Facebook.com/WaterCenter.CMU or Twitter at Twitter.com/WaterCenterCMU.

More Gunnison River Basin coverage here


USDA Selects First Projects for New, Innovative RCPP Program

January 17, 2015
RCPP Proposals map via the USDA

RCPP Proposals map via the USDA

Here’s the release from the United States Department of Agriculture (Petra Barnes). (Click through for the data):

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 100 high-impact projects across all 50 states, including Colorado will receive more than $370 million as part of the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

RCPP’s historic focus on public-private partnership enables private companies, local communities and other non-government partners a way to invest in efforts to keep our land resilient and water clean, and promote tremendous economic growth in agriculture, construction, tourism and outdoor recreation, and other industries.

This year’s projects in Colorado will accomplish a wide diversity of agricultural and natural resource goals from facilitating the conversion of flood irrigation systems to more resource-efficient pressurized irrigation systems with integrated hydropower to significantly increasing water use efficiency by coordinating expanded efforts and by integrating off-farm irrigation conveyance system and on-farm water application efficiency improvements.

“Partners are seeing the value of conservation and investing in their future,” Vilsack said. “These partnerships are forging a new path for getting conservation on the ground and are providing opportunities for communities to have a voice and ownership in protecting and improving our natural resources. The Regional Conservation Partnership Program ushers in a new era of conservation, and we’re excited about the down-the-road benefits from this new Farm Bill program.”

This year’s projects will engage hundreds of partners with wide-ranging interests, including communities, conservation districts, agribusiness, non-government organizations, for- and non-profit organizations, state and federal agencies and Tribal governments. In addition to USDA funds, partners’ will contribute an estimated $400 million, more than doubling USDA’s investment.

“RCPP puts our partners in the driver’s seat,” said Elise Boeke, Acting USDA’S Natural Resources Conservation Service state conservationist in Colorado. “Projects are led locally, and demonstrate the value of strong public-private partnerships that deliver solutions to tough natural resource challenges.”

More than 600 pre-proposals were submitted for RCPP in 2014. Of those, more than 200 were invited to submit full proposals. “With so many strong project proposals, the project selection process was extremely competitive. RCPP is a 5-year $1.2 billion USDA commitment; projects not selected in this first year may be eligible in subsequent years,” Boeke said.

For more information on all RCPP projects please visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/.

To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or local USDA service center.

Uncompahgre River Valley looking south

Uncompahgre River Valley looking south

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

Nearly $10 million in federal funding will go to boost water efficiency in the Gunnison Basin and boost the generation of electricity from irrigation systems.

The Colorado River Water Conservation District will administer $8 million to be used with regional conservation partnership programs, which were established in the 2014 Farm Bill, to use water more efficiently and reduce the amount of salts and selenium carried in the Colorado River and its tributaries.

The grant “will really help our agricultural producers implement new conservation practices that not only produce more ‘crop per drop’ of water, but significantly reduces their environmental footprint,” said Dave Kanzer, senior water resources engineer for the River District.

The agency will coordinate efforts to boost water efficiency by coordinating canals, ditches and pipes that deliver water to farms with improvements in the way water is delivered to crops, frequently by eliminating flood irrigation in favor of sprinkler and other irrigation systems.

The River District will use the money from the Agriculture Department to match funding from the Interior Department, as well as state, local and River District funds, to pay for the projects, Kanzer said.

“This grant is a big win-win for agricultural, economic and environmental sustainability,” Kanzer said.

The program will focus on the Bostwick Park, North Fork and Crawford water conservancy districts, as well as the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, for the projects, Kanzer said.

Micro-hydroelectric plant

Micro-hydroelectric plant

The Colorado Department of Agriculture will coordinate a $1.8 million grant to support development of hydropower generation from agricultural canals and ditches.

Congress previously approved legislation easing the development of small hydropower projects by U.S, Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo.

Tipton and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., each served on their houses’ respective agriculture committees, which crafted the Farm Bill.

“These projects will help Colorado and other states across the West better manage our water resources in the face of increased demand and persistent drought conditions,” Bennet said in a statement.

More conservation coverage here. More hydroelectric/hydropower coverage here


The latest thinking from the Gunnison River Basin Roundtable about a potential new transmountain diversion

January 14, 2015

Colorado transmountain diversions via the University of Colorado

Colorado transmountain diversions via the University of Colorado


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,133 other followers

%d bloggers like this: