Colorado River basin: Instream flow right for the Colorado River from Gore Canyon to Glenwood Springs?

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Here’s a guest column from Jon Stavney writing for the Vail Daily. From the article:

…Front Range diversion projects as well as two other processes now put the focus squarely on Eagle County’s segment of the Colorado River from Gore Canyon to Glenwood Springs. In 2008, Eagle County suggested that the Colorado Water Conservation Board evaluate an in-stream flow right that would quantify and provide certainty for that minimum flow. That request took a back seat to a series of controversial efforts…

The threat of “Wild and Scenic” designation provoked stakeholders to devise an alternative management plan suggesting ways to preserve outstanding resource values without a strict federal mandate. That alternative management plan has been negotiated by 20 stakeholders from both sides of the Continental Divide for years. The Colorado River Water Conservation District, where I serve on the board, is a leader in these stakeholder talks. This stakeholder effort has resulted in a 70-page document just submitted to the BLM and U.S. Forest Service last week. Parties, including Eagle County, are expected by the end of April to indicate formal approval for BLM to include the proposal in the “Management Plan,” thereby bypassing official designation. The plan can be reviewed at www.upcowildandscenic.com.

In the meantime, the Colorado Water Conservation Board has put the in-stream flow filing back on track following a study prepared and submitted by Eagle County, and funded by a grant from the CWCB. The study analyzes minimum flows required throughout the year. Eagle County is working closely with Colorado Division of Wildlife and the stakeholder group to finalize the last details of this streamflow study. That study will provide the data for the instream flow filing to be considered by the CWCB. They are scheduled to start noticing the in-stream flow filing process and accepting comments on this reach of the Colorado River in May so that it can be considered by the CWCB in January of 2012. Their website is www.cwcb.state.co.us.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

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