Colorado River: Efforts to keep flows up when the Shoshone power plant is offline

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Here’s the release from the Colorado River District (Jim Pokrandt):

Rafters, endangered fish and municipalities are iting from an agreement among reservoir owners and water users that maintains flows in the Colorado River even when the Shoshone Hydropower Plant is not calling for its senior water right.

In addition to producing green power for owner Xcel Energy, the Shoshone Plant’s nonconsumptive water right creates an unofficial minimum streamflow in the Colorado River. The rafting industry, individual recreationists, endangered fish and agricultural producers in the Grand Valley depend on the benefits of the Shoshone call. The water also helps communities that draw drinking water from the river.

From time to time, the Shoshone Plant, located on the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon, must reduce diversions for necessary maintenance and cannot place its call for water. To maintain streamflows, however, water leaders in the river’s upper basin have worked out an agreement that makes Shoshone issues invisible to the public and keeps water in the river.

Currently, the century-old plant is expected to be partially shut down or completely down through the fall for maintenance and repairs. At this time of year, with declining natural river flows, many would notice the impacts of not having Shoshone’s 1,250 cubic feet per second (cfs) call on the river.

To compensate, reservoir owners, including the Bureau of Reclamation, Denver Water and the Colorado River District are operating to maintain a “target flow” of 1,250 cfs at the Dotsero gage, just upstream from the plant. The Colorado Division of Water Resources’ Division 5 office in Glenwood Springs is coordinating the plan.

The target flow is maintained through normal reservoir operations that include power plant releases and water held in storage to help protect endangered fish habitat in the Grand Valley. Some of the water would otherwise be released in the winter to make room for next year’s snowmelt. By releasing it now, the benefits accrue to rafters, agricultural producers and drinking water treatment plants.

Additional support for the program is coming from the Grand County Commissioners who have asked the Bureau of Reclamation to start releasing the water they store in Granby Reservoir to the Colorado River. Grand County paid the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District to pump the water into Granby through its Windy Gap Project this spring for late summer when flows through the county ordinarily are thin.

To learn more about this collaborative program, contact Jim Pokrandt with the Colorado River District via phone at 970.945.8522 x 236 or e-mail

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Colorado River: Tagging endangered fish for data collection

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From the Summit Daily News:

At the Price-Stubb Diversion Dam on the Colorado River near Rifle, a new “passive integrated transponder” (PIT) tag system is now monitoring the movement of endangered fish that are PIT tagged. A PIT tag is similar to a small microchip placed in a dog or cat at a veterinary clinic for individual identification if lost. The new PIT tag system, installed in early August, consists of four, 6-foot-by-5-foot antennas attached to the box culvert at the top of the fish passage. The system detects PIT tags to track whether fish are moving up or down the Price-Stubb Fish Passage. The system provides remote sensing and is built to withstand the flows and debris of the Colorado River. “This type of research tool is a safe, cost-effective way to monitor fish movement in the fish passage,” said Recovery Program Research coordinator Tom Czapla.

Four days after the system became operational, the first PIT-tagged fish — an endangered Colorado pikeminnow — used the passage. Data obtained at Price-Stubb and other locations show that the fish swam 130 river miles during the past year. “We anticipate receiving important information about all four species of endangered fish from this remotely sensed structure,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service project leader Michelle Shaughnessy. “Most of the endangered fish are PIT-tagged, and this tracking system will help identify the type and number of species that move through the fish passage and inhabit this river reach.”[…]

More endangered species coverage here.

Creede: Water line replacement update

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From The Mineral County Miner (Toni Steffens-Steward):

The water line project started with the first phase that replaced lines under La Garita Street, and the second phase was just recently finished. The fourth and final phase of construction is planned to start in the spring of 2011. Replacement work will begin at the south end of town on Sept. 7, and the town council is assuring businesses that the project will be done as delicately as possible…

The project became necessary mainly due to the age of the system, but it will also help to increase system capacity and fire protection requirements.

More infrastructure coverage here.

2010 Sustaining Colorado’s Watersheds: Learning from the past to protect the future

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Click here for all the dope about the conference. Here’s an excerpt:

October 5-7, 2010 at the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa

The draft agenda is available here.

This year’s conference highlights include:

– Pre and post-conference workshops and field trips on water education, 319 grant requirements, algae identification, willow installation and much more
– How to measure results in education, restoration and water quality programs with a workshop by John La Rocca on Outcome Management
– Opportunities for private investment in Colorado’s watersheds by Margaret Bowman of the Walton Family Foundation
– Jon Waterman’s 1,450-mile journey down the Colorado River, documented in his new book Running Dry: A Journey from Source to Sea Down the Colorado River
– Tracks on: tools for watershed restoration, water and land use, statewide water issues, oil & gas regulations, and non-profit management
– And much more!

Registration is $155 for members/$180 for non-members. Register soon! Registrations received after September 20 are subject to a $50 late fee.

More education coverage here.

CWCB: Board meeting September 13-15

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Lisa Barr):

The Colorado Water Conservation Board is meeting on September 13-15, 2010, at Ute Water Conservancy District’s Headquarters Office, 2190 H ¼ Road, Grand Junction, CO 81505.

The agenda is available on the CWCB website. CWCB staff memos and other materials will be available September 3, 2010, on our website.

The meeting will be “streamed” via the internet through the CWCB’s website. Click on the “Listen to the meeting LIVE!” link, found on our home page just before the meeting begins.

Presentations are also being made available. To watch presentations that accompany agenda items, click the “Watch Presentations” link on the CWCB website homepage just before the meeting begins…

If you need more information about this Board meeting, please contact Lisa Barr at

More CWCB coverage here.

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project update

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Just wanted to let you know that Ruedi will maintain its current release through the holiday weekend. The Fryingpan River will remain around 322 cfs.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project update

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

This weekend, we will see the water elevation at Lake Estes fluctuate a little, but average out at 7471 feet. It will likely be above 7471 in the afternoons and early evenings, and at 7471, or slighly lower, in the mornings. Releases from Olympus Dam to the Big Thompson are matching the native flow on the Big Thompson River coming into Lake Estes. They will remain around 60 cfs. Pinewood Reservoir has started its more typical flucutation pattern due to power generation. The daily average of the water level elevation through the holiday weekend should be around 6573. Carter Lake is also seeing operations typical of this time of year. Water users continue to take water and the elevation is slowly dropping. We are also running water north from Carter to generate hydropower and meet demands on the Big Thompson River. As a result, the water elevation at Carter is at 5722. It will likely remain in the 5720s through the weekend, a fairly average water elevation for this time of year. Horsetooth continues to see a slow draw. It is at an elevation of 5402 and is anticipated to stay near the 5400 mark through the weekend.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

We are currently releasing about 625 cfs from Green Mountain Reservoir to the Lower Blue. There might be some slight fluctuations, but 625 cfs will be the average release through the weekend.

More Colorado-Big Thompson Project coverage here.