In April, American Rivers issued its annual list of Most Endangered Rivers. And the Colorado River - from source to sea - was named the #1 most endangered river in America. The Colorado is facing enormous challenges, largely driven by the extensive demands of its water supply in the face of a limited resource - and one that may become even more limited as we experience shifts in climate. Fortunately, there are also positive developments for the Colorado River.
In April, the Colorado water courts decreed a new instream flow right to the Colorado Water Conservation Board to help protect its environment from the Blue River near Kremmling down to its confluence with the Eagle River. With flows ranging from 500 cfs to 900 cfs depending on the season, it is the largest instream flow water right in Colorado's history. You can read about it in the local (Sky Hi News) paper here.
While as a more "junior" 2011 water right, it will not guarantee flows in the river from diversions under prior existing "senior" water rights, the instream flow will help protect the outstanding environment that the Colorado sustains today from future water rights or changes.
The filing was the result of a collaborative effort among local governments, conservationists, water districts, and other stakeholders in developing protections for a reach of the Colorado that had been found eligible for possible federal Wild and Scenic designation.
“This is good news for a stretch of the river that is beloved by generations of anglers,” said Mely Whiting, counsel for Trout Unlimited. “It’s an example of what can be accomplished when working together.”