Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program update

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Here’s an update on the efforts by Front Range and west slope water providers to provide the necessary water to further the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, from Tonya Bina writing for the Sky-Hi Daily News. From the article:

The Colorado River District has taken on the role of fundraising organizer, asking town boards and water districts to contribute money so the West Slope complies to a federal fish recovery program. A pledge, said Daniel Birch of the Colorado River District to Granby and Grand Lake town boards last week, would help the West Slope meet its first obligation of National Environmental Policy Act permitting. The West Slope and East Slope are sharing the cost of $550,000 as each enters the process. Colorado River District fundraising on behalf of the West Slope already has raised just more than $200,000 in commitments. The River District approached 40 water users in the Grand Valley into Summit and Eagle counties…

As part of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, East and West Slope diverters committed to supplying 10,825 acre-feet of water in late summer, evenly split among the two regions. As a temporary solution, Denver Water has been releasing flows from Williams Fork Reservoir to comply; meanwhile, the Colorado River Water Conservation District has been releasing from Wolford Mountain Reservoir for the West Slope’s share. By the end of 2009, however, stakeholders must arrive at a more permanent solution mandated in the program.

Negotiations have led to supplying half of the 10,825 acre-feet out of Granby Reservoir sourced from the Northern Water Conservancy District’s Red Top Ditch Shares (about a $17 million solution) for the East Slope’s share. The other half would come out of Ruedi Reservoir near Basalt for the West Slope’s share. The plan also includes using excess storage capacity in the Green Mountain Reservoir. Contracting with the federal government to have water shepherded from Ruedi to the critical section of the Colorado could cost West Slope water users about $8 million, according to the Colorado River District. For this reason, the district is working on legislation it plans to introduce to Congress, asking for forgiveness of that cost…

Both the Towns of Grand Lake and Granby agreed to consider the $5,000 while crafting next year’s budget, a process starting in August. Grand County Water and Sanitation No.1 and the Winter Park West Water and Sanitation District have also made commitments, according to Birch.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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