Colorado & Western Water Project Staff Notes

January 2009


Denver Post ran a story on aging dam infrastructure upgrades and on win-win partnership projects that improve both dam safety and fish habitat, with TU and Western Water Project state directors prominently featured. As Laura Ziemer, TU’s Montana Water Project Director, said in the piece, “We’re trying to get out of the fish vs. farmer box.”


The water court signed the decree for the reserved water right for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. This brings to an end one of the longest running water fights in Colorado history. The Park Service now owns a recognized and enforceable water right for peak, shoulder and base flows for the Black Canyon.


Colorado Water Project (CWP) has been reviewing and commenting on a bill to be introduced in the 2009 Colorado General Assembly legislative session that would allow small-scale precipitation harvesting on a pilot basis.


We are supporting a bill this legislative session that would create a state income tax credit for parties who donate water rights to the CWCB for instream flow use.


The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) will hold a hearing in January to establish rules implementing the Instream Flow Rules legislation we passed last legislative session. We have submitted pre-hearing comments.


CWP submitted comments on the Windy Gap Firming Project (WGFP) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also reviewed the DEIS and gave the project a rating of “Environmental Objections – Insufficient Information (EO-2)”. This rating signifies that EPA has identified significant environmental impacts that should be avoided in order to adequately protect the environment.


CWP has been working with the Colorado Division of Wildlife throughout 2008 to develop instream flow recommendations on several stream segments that support populations of either Colorado River or greenback cutthroat trout. These recommendations will be submitted to the CWCB for their consideration. This action will initiate a state process that should result in the CWCB’s appropriation of instream flow water rights on these streams. The CWCB is the only entity in the state of Colorado that can hold an instream flow water right.


CWP and Colorado Trout Unlimited continue to participate in a “Shared Vision Planning” (SVP) process on the North Fork Cache la Poudre River near Ft. Collins, Colorado. The SVP process is intended to facilitate a common understanding of a natural resource system and provide a consensus-based forum for stakeholders to identify tradeoffs and new management options. Our objective is to work within the context of the Halligan-Seaman Water Management Plan to improve environmental stream flows in the North Fork and mainstem Poudre River.