Grand Ditch: Installation of new box culvert to continue through October 15

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

The Water Supply and Storage Company is installing a large box culvert across a massive breach that occurred in the ditch in 2003. A 2.5-mile section of the Grand Ditch Road, used by hikers for access to the Never Summer Mountains from La Poudre Pass, is closed through Oct. 15, Rocky Mountain National Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said. The road is closed between the Little Yellowstone Trailhead and the Thunder Pass Trailhead.

More Grand Ditch coverage here.

Aspinall Unit operations meeting recap

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Here’s a recap of Thursday’s operations meeting, from Katharhynn Heidelberg writing for the Montrose Daily Press. From the article:

Blue Mesa’s inflow for May was forecasted at 690,000 acre feet. The June 1 forecast jumped it to 790,000 af. “A lot of that was the result of precipitation that occurred in late May and also the fact that we got some good runoff in May,” Crabtree said. “We had more runoff in May than average.” BuRec went to higher releases to avoid having to spill Blue Mesa Reservoir. Crabtree said the reservoir came within three inches of spilling over, so releases were increased to gain control. At one point, the reservoir contained only 2,000 spare acre feet of storage. “Considering the size of that lake, that’s not a lot of room,” he said.

BuRec will slowly decrease releases from Crystal over the next few months to allow the Division of Wildlife to conduct its annual fish surveys. Additionally, BuRec wants to have lower flows to encourage brown trout to spawn in deeper water. That way, when the water recedes, there is less chance of the eggs being left high and dry, which could happen if spawning occurs in shallower water. Crabtree said flows will increase in December and January to help meet demands for power production.

Here’s a look at operations last May, from Dave Buchanan writing for the The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

…on May 12, the day the Bureau had predicted runoff would peak and Crystal, the last dam in the line, would spill, the expected overflow came much faster and higher than anyone foresaw. So fast, in fact, the Bureau was inundated with complaints about their supposedly poor flow management, particularly from people familiar with the Aspinall Unit operating directives, which limit how fast a flow can increase or decrease (ramp up or ramp down). From 8 a.m. on May 12 to 8 a.m. on May 13, flows in the Gunnison River below Crystal Dam jumped from about 3,500 cubic feet per second to 7,300 cfs, about four times faster than the Aspinall EIS said should happen. That doubling of the flows not only threatened unwitting anglers and other river users, but also sent a glut of water toward Delta, which eventually saw a flow of 12,500 cfs gnaw away at river banks and threaten riverside development.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

Gunnison Tunnel 100th year celebration

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Here’s a opinion piece from the Montrose Daily Press detailing some of the history behind the Gunnison Tunnel. From the article:

[Francis Lauzon] introduced his idea to the townspeople who began to call him the “Crazy Frenchman.” Lauzon was able to convince the Montrose County Commissioners to put funding his idea up to a vote, but the measure failed. Tireless, Lauzon continued to push his idea and in 1894 the U.S. Geological Survey performed the first surveying expedition to determine if the tunnel was feasible. Lauzon appears to have disappeared shortly after this, but a new advocate, one with clout and admiration, soon took up the cause.

By all accounts, Mead Hammond of Paonia was an upright, humble public servant who represented the district in the state house. Hammond’s passion for and belief in the future of the Uncompahgre Valley clearly motivated him. He introduced and worked to pass House Bill 195, “a bill for State Canal No. 3,” in the 1901 General Assembly. The bill authorized $25,000 to begin boring the tunnel using convicts for labor.

More Gunnison Basin coverage here.

How to increase yield from the Fryingpan-Arkansas project?

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Here’s a look at the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project along with future considerations for increasing yield, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“There is a 14,400-acre-foot gap,” Executive Director Jim Broderick told the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board last week. “How do we lower that gap?”[…]

The gap represents the difference in the water that potentially could be provided through the collection system in the Fryingpan River basin and what actually comes over. It would not be an expansion of the district’s existing water rights, Broderick said. His point is that cities and farmers in the nine counties covered by the district signed up for the project anticipating that 69,100 acre-feet per year would be delivered. Instead, only about 54,700 acre-feet have been delivered each year, for a variety of reasons:

Part of the project’s collection system was never built because it is in wilderness areas.

There are physical limits on the amount of water that can be brought through Boustead Tunnel into Turquoise Lake.

The diurnal nature of flows – snowpack melts in the day and freezes at night during spring runoff – through the tunnel could be evened out with some sort of storage on the western side of the tunnel. Ruedi Reservoir above Aspen is downstream of the Boustead Tunnel intake and exists to meet Western Slope needs…

Vera Ortegon, Pueblo County director, said it is unlikely that a reservoir could be built [near the Boustead Tunnel] because of environmental requirements. “To me, the most important thing is to optimize the infrastructure we have,” Ortegon said. “The biggest issue is environmental, and it’s insurmountable.”

Broderick said the board has to make policy decisions in order to improve the way the Fry-Ark Project works, and said he will bring options to the board in several areas in the months to come. “Should we own water? Should we lease water? How much do we reserve? These are all policy questions,” Broderick said.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.