Roaring Fork River watershed: Roaring Fork Conservancy and the Ruedi Water and Power Authority release draft Roaring Fork Watershed Plan

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Colson):

A draft of the Roaring Fork Watershed Plan, which is a project of the Roaring Fork Conservancy and the Ruedi Water and Power Authority, aims to increase awareness of, and involvement in planning for a likely scarcity of water in the coming decades. The draft of the plan is available at the conservancy’s website, www.roaringfork.org

More than 40 percent of the water in the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan river drainages is diverted each year, and sent to cities and counties on the Front Range. Similar diversions are in operation in other Western Slope drainages, to satisfy the needs of a Front Range population that is expected to grow from roughly 5 million today to approximately 8 million by 2030, according to published estimates. At present, it is unknown whether future transmountain diversions will take ever greater amounts of water from the Western Slope, since no new diversion projects currently are under study, the draft plan states. But existing diversion rights are not being fully used, according to a Jan. 7 “Front Range Water Supply Planning Update.” The possibility of increased diversions has galvanized water planners and local governments into figuring out how to cope with the difficult issues surrounding water policy in this region…

The draft plan also relates that nearly 140 miles of streams surveyed in the Roaring Fork Watershed, out of 185 total miles of streams, show “moderately modified to severely degraded riparian habitat.” This habitat zone, although comprising less than 3 percent of the landmass in the watershed, sustains “75-80 percent of wildlife species” in the region. In addition, according to the draft plan, “functioning riparian areas reduce the risk of flooding and increase stream base flows.” Increasing diversions, and resulting lowered water levels in rivers and streams, pose a threat to riparian habitat, as well as to the availability of water for municipal, agricultural and industrial needs.

More Roaring Fork River watershed coverage here.

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