Western Water Project Staff Notes, August 2007

Attended more IBCC meetings, including one to consider whether Colorado has adequately assessed its upcoming consumptive water needs and another where we discussed non-decisional items, giving feedback on a report from a group of business leaders and the possibility of state redoing a proposed scope of work for determining how much water Colorado is entitled to use that it isn't actually using. We also had a good internal TU conversation about the energy-water nexus.

Spoke to Regional Forest Service hydros and biologists about Western Water Project and TU's approach to stream protection-reconnection-restoration in the region.

Colorado Water Project

Clean Water Restoration Act: Worked to gain support of Congressman John Salazar and Governor Ritter. Activities include communications with the Congressman as a member of his Water Advisory Committee, development of talking points for a letter-writing campaign by Colorado conservation groups, and co-writing a letter to Governor Ritter with Colorado Council's executive director. TU also participated in a Clean Water Restoration Act conference in Albuquerque, co-sponsored by TU, DU and NWF.

Regulation of CBM Wells: In a recent decision, a Colorado water court ruled that coalbed methane wells may no longer operate without obtaining water pumping permits from the State Engineer and going to water court for approval of measures to prevent injury to surrounding water wells or surface streams. The decision is expected to be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court and will likely be the target of legislative efforts by both the State and industry in the upcoming session. TU is also working to gain support from local and regional governments on both the judicial and legislative fronts.

Colorado River Headwaters: As part of the CWP's effort to get the State's instream flow leasing program off the ground, TU continued a series of meetings with key irrigators and other key entities in the area, to promote the program, explore future specific transactions, and seek support for CWP's legislative efforts to improve the program in the upcoming session.

Met with Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the east slope beneficiary of the C-BT project, to discuss cooperative solutions to the chronic low flows of the Colorado River headwaters below Granby Reservoir. TU discussed our efforts to increase flows through leasing. Northern said it is exploring possible operational scenarios that may assist the river.

Colorado River Basin: TU focused on temperature monitoring in the Colorado River Basin. In cooperation with the Roaring Fork Conservancy and the Eagle River Watershed Council, we deployed loggers These loggers will contribute to the wealth of temperature data being collected in the Colorado River Basin in anticipation of the basin-wide standards hearing this winter.

Gunnison River Basin: Worked with the Colorado Division of Wildlife to collect discharge data on a couple of streams in the Gunnison River Basin. These data will serve as the basis for recommendations to the CWCB for instream flow appropriations on these streams. TU plans to collect additional data on these and other streams so that we can continue to recommend trout streams for instream flow rights.

Shoshone Call: As the most senior Colorado River water right within Colorado, the Shoshone hydropower plant diversions control the administration of the river. In late June, an upset shut down the plant for the immediately foreseeable future, threatening the delicate administrative balance achieved over decades of operations. From an environmental standpoint, the absence of the call has a potential to impact ESA listed fish a few miles above the state line as well as cold water fisheries at its headwaters. From a recreational standpoint, the shut down could threaten a $20 million industry. TU has been participating in a series of conference calls among affected entities to discuss a cooperative administration agreement in lieu of the Shoshone call. TU has been working to assess what the impact of the Shoshone shut down will be on flows in the Colorado River and how various efforts to keep water in the river might impact fish, especially if winter flows are severely curtailed.