Western & Colorado Water Project Staff Notes

June 2008


TU and the other parties to the Colorado water court proceedings to quantify the Black Canyon reserved water right are engaged in mediation. The lawyers have reached agreement on a proposed decree. The parties’ principals are now reviewing. Relatedly, the Black Canyon experienced a peak flow in late May of 7500 cfs:



The San Luis Valley Irrigation District is considering an expansion of Rio Grande Reservoir. The district claims that the expansion would have benefits for stream flow. We are trying to coordinate opportunities to discuss the project with the district and to provide input on appropriate flow regimes:



The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) has released its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Colorado Springs’ Southern Delivery System (SDS). We have prepared draft comments on the EIS. We have also been discussing mitigation measures with the BOR and Colorado Springs: http://www.sdseis.com/


Northern has announced that the Draft EIS for Windy Gap Firming Project (WGFP) will be released by the end of June. The project would increase upper Colorado River diversions, impacting a Gold Medal trout fishery reach of the stream that has already deteriorated due to years of transmountain diversions:



Phase II of the Grand County Streamflow Management Plan study has been released. The study, commissioned by the county affected by upper Colorado River transmountain diversions, recommends flows needed for fish, recreation, channel maintenance and in-basin water use within the county. The study will assist evaluation of impacts of new water development projects as well measuring impacts of existing projects and changes in project operation.


We are involved in upper Colorado River negotiations in an effort to develop a flow management plan that protects “outstanding remarkable values” (including fishing and recreation boating) in the Colorado from Kremmling to Glenwood Springs. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering this stretch of the river for suitability under the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA). A conceptual plan, outlining the elements of a final plan, will be submitted to BLM at the end of the month. Under the conceptual plan, the final plan would include minimum flows protective of the fisheries, as well as target flows for channel maintenance and recreation (kayaking, rafting, etc.). The plan would also identify “threats” to those flows and how those threats would be handled: www.rivers.gov/


We have been asked to testify before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regarding the need for a rule requiring stormwater control measures to protect streams from sediment and other contaminants associated with oil and gas development beyond the initial site construction phase. Stormwater discharges associated with oil and gas construction are already regulated by another state agency: http://oil-gas.state.co.us/


The triennial review hearing to update water quality standards and classifications for the Colorado River Basin (within Colorado) is scheduled for this month. This is the first basin where the interim temperature standards adopted last year will be considered for permanent adoption. After some hard work, looks like all temperature issues have been resolved; the final proposal is extremely favorable to protection of the most sensitive species (i.e., cutthroat and brook trout).