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Corps approves permit for Moffat Project in Colorado headwaters

Posted by David Nickum on July 10, 2017 in Chapters, Colorado Water Project, Conservation, Habitat, Legislation and Advocacy, Press/PR, South Platte, Trout, Upper Colorado-Fraser-Blue-Eagle, Western Water Project

The Army Corps of Engineers gave its approval to Denver Water’s proposal to expand Gross Reservoir in Boulder County in order to firm its Moffat System water supplies from Grand County. While the project will increase total diversions from the Colorado headwaters, Denver Water has incorporated mitigation and enhancement measures to the project that local TU members in Grand County believe can actually improve the Fraser River’s health.

As part of its commitments under this permit and the associated mitigation and enhancement plans, Denver Water will manage diversions to help provide needed flushing flows on the Fraser and its tributaries, complete habitat and native trout restoration work in the Williams Fork basin, and contribute funds toward ongoing habitat improvement efforts like the Fraser Flats project.

“The Fraser is a river beloved by generations of anglers, boaters and other outdoor enthusiasts —it’s the lifeblood of our community,” said Kirk Klancke, president of TU’s Colorado River Headwaters chapter in Fraser and a longtime advocate for the river. “As an angler and Fraser Valley resident, I’m gratified that this agreement keeps our home waters healthy and flowing.”

Most significantly, Denver Water will participate in an adaptive management program called “Learning by Doing” through which Denver, Grand County, Trout Unlimited, and other local stakeholders are cooperating to apply mitigation and enhancement resources, monitor river and watershed conditions, and make adjustments to achieve the best results over time. “Rather than remaining an adversary, Denver Water has joined us and our west slope partners as a partner working to improve conditions in the Fraser watershed,” explained Colorado TU Executive Director David Nickum.

In addition to the Learning by Doing effort, Denver Water has also pledged resources for improvement work on South Boulder Creek and on the North Fork South Platte (which will be impacted by ripple effects from Gross Reservoir expansion on Denver’s systemwide operations, including the Roberts Tunnel). 5000 acre-feet in the enlarged reservoir will also be reserved as an environmental pool to be managed to help provide instream flows at key times to downstream reaches of South Boulder Creek.

3 Responses to This Post Already

  1. The COE approval and studies say nothing about the continuing seasonal damage that Denver Water inflicts on the South Boulder Creek tailwater fishery. The yearly release cycle is stagnant in late fall through late spring (no matter what snow pack exists), then to absolutely blast the canyon when the reservoir is full after no release until almost the last second, and then back to reasonable release flows for 3 to 4 months before repeating the cycle. I’d like to believe that an expansion would alleviate this lack of flow then too much flow cycle, but I don’t hold out much hope as it’s apparently not in the approval and TU seemed much more concerned with upstream and forgot about the tailwater.

    • We’ve had conversations with Denver about addressing low flow problems much lower on South Boulder Creek, as well as flagging concerns for monitoring and adaptive management on stream temperatures. We’ll convey your concerns when we next meet with them and report back on what we can learn.

  2. Michael Van Winkle- Pikes Peak Colorado Springs Group on July 15, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Good to see stakeholder groups in a cooperative effort to protect the Frazier, Platte and Colorado rivers.

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