Western & Colorado Water Project Staff Notes

April 2008



We worked with a National TU staffer on a terrific set of new CSI maps that look at Colorado cutthroat with an eye towards the strategies and costs of restoration in a warming environment full of energy development.


TU led a retreat of the environmental and recreational representatives to the water basin roundtables regarding the state's effort to identify the priority river reaches for environmental and recreational instream flow needs, and to quantify those needs.


We wrote yet another Rapanos presentation and helped counter some of the paranoid arguments of Colorado's water community against the Clean Water Restoration Act.


TU and the other parties to the Colorado water court proceedings to quantify the Black Canyon reserved water right are engaged in mediation. The court has stayed proceedings to allow negotiations to continue.


TU and others from the conservation community have helped to draft a bill that would that would more closely tie land use development (growth) to sustainable water supplies. The bill has created much debate. Chances of success are fair.


The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) has released its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Colorado Springs Southern Delivery System. TU will work on preparation of comments on the EIS and will be discussing mitigation measures with BOR and CO Springs. We met with the Pueblo Chapter to discuss the EIS and possible impacts to the local fishery.


We have been advocating for three bills to strengthen the instream flow program in the 2008 legislative session. One bill has passed and is headed to the governor for signature. The other bills are in the General Assembly process, but appear to have good chances for success.


We are continuing to try and make sense of the proposed temperature standards for the Colorado and Yampa River basins in preparation for the upcoming standard setting meeting.


TU continues to participate in the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization efforts to address the impacts of climate change will have on Colorado streams, and is following progress on a number of water supply projects.


TU staff spent much of the month preparing for and embarking on a trip to assess the Dolores River below McPhee Dam. Once a prized tail-water fishery, fishing in this stretch has been on the decline. The Dolores River Dialogue is eager to try and restore the fishery but unsure of the cause of the decline. Some hypotheses have been raised including decline in the invertebrate community, unspecified problems related to algae, and poor spawning habitat related to channel armoring. We worked with the Colorado Department of Wildlife to develop a study design that will help address this last hypothesis. During four days on the river, we conducted extensive surveys, set out sediment traps, painted rocks (really, this is science), and set up a transect to evaluate channel migration along a meander bend. We will return to the river after runoff and, with luck, will find some of the traps and painted rocks. In any event we will resurvey the reach to quantify any changes caused by the huge spill that is now underway.