Gunnison Basin: Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District turns 50

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Here’s a retrospective looking back on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the UGRWCD, from Evan Dawson writing for The Crested Butte News. From the article:

The Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District (UGRWCD) was created in June 1959 to work along with the federal government in creating a series of water storage projects throughout Gunnison County.
The Upper Gunnison Storage Project, as it came to be known, was never entirely feasible or cost effective. The idea was finally abandoned altogether in 2008…

Gunnison area resident Richard Bratton served as the District’s attorney from 1959 to 1999. Bratton says he was in the office when the district was first created in 1959. Note, however, the “office” at that time consisted of Bratton and board members like Bill Trampe and Lee Spann, talking on the phone at 7 a.m. Bratton says the true beginning of the district happened in 1956 when the Colorado River Storage Project was authorized by Congress and construction began on a number of large reservoirs across the southwest, such as the Navajo, Flaming Gorge and Blue Mesa reservoirs. Alongside the big reservoirs, the government agreed to provide financing for “participating” water storage projects, Bratton says. The state water court formed the UGRWCD in 1959 to act as a liaison between the local participating project and the federal government. “Gunnison had a project called the Upper Gunnison Project. They had reservoirs and ditches all across the basin,” Bratton says. But in order to get the funding, there had to be an equal cost benefit ratio on each project—the cost of constructing the water storage project had to be equal to the benefits water users would receive. “We searched for years to find a project that met that demand. We did engineering and feasibility studies. We scaled it way down. To make a long story short, we never could find a project,” Bratton says.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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