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.

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