Animas River rehabilitation

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From the Durango Telegraph “…the City of Durango was awarded an $86,000 grant from the Colorado Division of Wildlife for habitat improvements and bank stabilization for the stretch of river between 9th Street and the Highway 160 bridge. The project, which is planned for August, is meant to improve fish habitat while restoring riparian areas along the western river bank. With the high flows and increased use of the area in recent years, a number of native cottonwoods and shrubs along the banks have disappeared, leading to further erosion and habitat damage…

“Trout Unlimited along with Animas Riverkeepers was instrumental in securing the grant and getting the City of Durango on board with the project. The area to be worked on, which runs adjacent to Roosa Avenue, is city owned, making city cooperation crucial. The west side of the river, versus the east side adjacent to the River Trail and Doubletree, is being pinpointed because that is where the river takes a natural lefthand turn, scouring the west bank especially hard as a result…

“The project culminates three years of behind the scenes work by TU and Animas Riverkeepers. In addition to funding architectural and design plans, the groups conducted a study that examined and prioritized areas of degradation. Of the nine spots identified, Churchwell said Ninth Street was given the highest priority, with the Animas-La Plata intake area coming in second. ‘Ninth Street is the most visible, being right downtown,’ he said. He also said it was chosen because of its ease of access and room for improvement as far as the fishery goes. ‘As a fisherman, I spend 100-plus days a year on the Animas, and this is not the best place to fish. It’s lacking good trout habitat,’ he said. ‘But, for a lot of tourists, where they fish is the first place where they see the river. We want to show them what an amazing fishing experience the Animas can be.’ In addition to these improvements, Churchwell said plans also call for in-stream ‘j hooks’ to divert flow into the main river channel and established paths down to the river. ‘Part of the reason shrubbery won’t grow is because there is so much unregulated foot traffic down to the river,’ he said. ‘The work will include steps down to the river to encourage people to use them and not trample the vegetation.'”

Aspinall Unit operations

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From email from Reclamation (Dan Crabtree); “The irrigation season is upon us. The Uncompahgre Valley Water Users will start diversions through the Gunnison Tunnel this week. Releases from the Aspinall Unit will be increased to accommodate these diversions with flows in the Black Canyon and Gunnison Gorge remaining in the 800 cfs range, for now. Expect some slight flow fluctuations due to timing of gate changes during this period.

“Also, attached is the meeting announcement and agenda for the combined Aspinall Operations and National Weather Service’s Colorado Water Supply Meeting to be held on April 23rd in Reclamation’s Grand Junction Office. Please note, the Operation’s portion of the meeting will be held in the morning starting at 9:30 a.m. In addition, we’d like for you to please RSVP to Bryon Lawrence at, or 970-243-7007 x493, by April 1, 2009 to ensure we have sufficient space for everyone interested. Please indicate whether you are attending the afternoon, morning, or both.

“Please contact Dan Crabtree with any questions by calling 970-248-0652.”

Cañon City: Water projects

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Here’s a recap of a recent meeting of the Cañon City Public Works Committee, from Debbie Bell writing for the Cañon City Daily Record. From the article:

City Engineer Adam Lancaster detailed the list of projects this week for the Public Works Committee. The continuing water system upgrade takes up the majority of the year’s budget with $4.6 million, including water main replacements and work at the new water-treatment plant. “You’re well aware of what we’re spending this money on,” Lancaster said, referring to the massive water main project currently under way on Main Street. Lancaster said the work there is on time and on budget, and he continued to praise downtown merchants and shoppers for dealing with the construction work in a positive manner…

Other water projects include the installation of radio-read meters. Water main work also is scheduled for S. 10th Street, Allison Avenue from Fifth to Ninth streets, Pear Avenue from Orchard to 19th, and E. Main Street from Diamond Avenue to the Evangelical Free Church. Ongoing work at the water treatment plant includes completing the construction of the new backwash pump station and clear well, as well as transmission lines along U.S. 50 to First Street. The design consultant is working on the final phase, which will include a backwash recovery system and raw water pump station on the Hydraulic Ditch…

Another big chunk of city funds is scheduled for stormwater work, which is funded by money collected through city stormwater fees. “On South 10th Street, the old storm sewer is in trouble and needs replaced prior to a paving project,” Lancaster said. The city will replace that drainage system as well as work on Juniper Street, to help mitigate continuing flood problems there. “We also have vegetation management in floodwater channels,” Lancaster said. The city also has three floodplain studies under way, at Four Mile, the Abbey area and the proposed Whitewater Kayak and Recreation Park and Riverwalk. “We have to do a study for the whitewater park project and the future Riverwalk extension to the west,” Lancaster said. The city has another $750,000 budgeted for stormwater projects this year.

CWQCC: No to increased sewage in Cherry Creek watershed

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From the Denver Post: “The Colorado Water Quality Control Commission voted March 10 to reject a proposal that would have reduced water quality in Cherry Creek Reservoir, one of the state’s most active fisheries and site of a popular state park. The Cherry Creek Basin Authority and Parker Water and Sanitation District had sought to increase algae levels in the lake and the amount of sewage discharged in the basin. Fifteen citizens testified against the proposal at the hearing, as did the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

Upper Ark: Expansion of satellite monitoring system on tap

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Update: I mistyped Mr. Sering’s name in the original as Rod. Of course it’s Ron. My bad.

The Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District is set to expand their satellite monitoring of reservoirs this year, according to a report by Ron Sering writing for The Mountain Mail. From the article:

“We’re putting in 15 gages in reservoirs and stream gages in the upper district, all the way down to Lester Attebery Ditch right at the Pueblo County line,” district general manager Terry Scanga said. Data collection platforms will measure surface water conditions and in some cases, weather data. Information will be transmitted via satellite to district servers. “The data will be displayed on the Web site for anyone in the state,” Scanga said. The system is part of the National Weather Service Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite program.

North Fork Reservoir station, the first of the sites, has been functioning since August 2008…

The expanded program will begin with installation of the Lester Attebery station in Eastern Fremont County during May. July installations will include stations at Cottonwood Reservoir and Cottonwood Creek, with additional stations at Rainbow Lake and a second at North Fork. Additional stations are planned for installation during the fall.

Lake Nighthorse: No recreation management plan yet

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From the Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh): “The issue of providing recreation at Lake Nighthorse is gaining no ground, and the economic downturn is making progress even more problematic. Neither Colorado State Parks nor the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation can oversee recreation at the reservoir being created by the Animas-La Plata Project southwest of Durango. At a public meeting held March 5 to discuss recreation at Lake Nighthorse, Bruce Whitehead, executive director of the Southwestern Water Conservation District, suggested that a public or public/private partnership could step forward to manage recreation. On Friday, he said the district stands ready to help move the process along.”


Lake Nighthorse will have a surface of 1,500 acres when the Ridges Basin Reservoir is filled to capacity in 18 months to three years. The body of water, a controversial settlement of Native American water-right claims, will provide water for three Native American tribes in Colorado and New Mexico and nontribal users. When the project was downsized in 2000, an irrigation-water component and funding for recreation were removed (although recreation itself remained).

The 2000 environmental study of Lake Nighthorse described a recreation area that could accommodate 1,980 visitors at a time, with annual use topping 218,000 user days. There would be 196 campsites and 38 picnic areas, 10 miles of hiking trails, fishing and a four-lane boat ramp. Now only the boat ramp, funded from a different source, is a sure amenity. Through the efforts of state Sen. Jim Isgar, the state provided $750,000 of severance taxes that was used to leverage $2.25 million in Wallop-Breaux funds. Wallop-Breaux money comes from a federal fuel tax on motorboats and small engines. Ozga said the boat ramp must be in place within three years after the Animas-La Plata Project is completed. The Bureau of Reclamation plans to start filling the reservoir from the Animas River this spring. “We’ll open the boat ramp, but only the boat ramp, to the public after the reservoir is filled,” Ozga said. “But the rest of the area will remain closed until a manager and appropriate recreation facilities are in place. We have to protect the land from damage due to uncontrolled public use.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Lake Pueblo: Boat inspections ramping up

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From (Sean Hauser): “…[At] Pueblo Reservoir, efforts to contain the spread continue as the boating season approaches. Boaters can expect to find the same inspections in place at the reservoir, in fact State Park Rangers are stepping up their efforts, and some changes are on the way. “Were going to have a couple of new procedures for this upcoming boating season,” explained Doug Youngers, a Colorado State Park Ranger. “Last year we allowed Jetski’s to launch from our day use areas, we have since changed that policy and all personal water craft’s are required to go through our check stations…they will not be allowed to launch from the shoreline this summer,” he added.

“Younger says they are learning of more ways the mussels can be transported from lake to lake, and not only do Jetski’s now have to be inspected, if you plan on bringing live bait to the lake for fishing, it too will have to be checked. “If you bring live bait, you need a receipt that’s no older than 7 days from a Colorado bait dealer,” explained Younger. If you can’t provide a receipt, rangers will take your bait from your boat and de-contaminate it in a bucket of water from Lake Pueblo before you are able to use it. They will then drain your boat compartment and you will have to fill it with new water.”