Moffat Collection System Project: Denver Water’s Travis Bray tells forum in Summit County, ‘In dry years, we take smidge’

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

In addition to increasing diversions from the Fraser River, in Grand County, Denver Water would also take between 4,000 and 5,000 acre feet of additional water from Dillon Reservoir each year, equal to about 2 percent of the Blue’s annual flow at its confluence with the Colorado River near Kremmling. Denver Water project manager Travis Bray said that, without the project, Denver Water would have to take even more water from Dillon Reservoir in the future as demand for water grows on the Front Range. Currently, Denver Water’s collection system is unbalanced, with 90 percent going through the southern branches of the system (including Dillon Reservoir, the Roberts Tunnel and the South Platte), and only 10 percent in the northern collection system (including the Moffat Tunnel).

The Blue River Watershed Group hosted a public forum on the project Tuesday evening that turned into a classic trans-divide showdown. County and town officials advocated for more Front Range conservation, while Denver Water staffers gave a detailed explanation of their plan to export more West Slope water across the Continental Divide, and also outlined their conservation efforts. Bray said increased diversions from the Blue River Basin would mainly happen in wet years during peak spring flows, shaving some water off the top of the hydrograph when it’s least noticeable. “In dry years, we take smidge,” he said. “It puts water in storage to use during a drought.”[…]

Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said the draft study has some serious flaws…

“What happens in May to September is the main concern. That’s our primary recreation season,” she said, adding that the draft study failed to address potential climate change impacts and also didn’t take into account any of the possible outcomes of a wild and scenic river planning process currently under way…

Similar concerns were repeated by Erica Stock, an outreach coordinator with Colorado Trout Unlimited.
The fisheries conservation group has specific ecological concerns related to lower flows, including warmer water that harms fish and higher concentrations of toxic metals. All those issues need to be addressed in the environmental study, she said. “We need minimum flows, flushing flows, adaptive management and monitoring. If we see the river is starting to collapse, we need to stop doing what we’re doing,” she concluded.

More Moffat Collection System Project coverage here.

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