From the Boulder Daily Camera (Laura Snider):
…the “Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Plan” released last week by Denver Water, which says the Gross Reservoir expansion is necessary to meet a projected shortfall of 18,000 acre-feet of water per year for its customers by 2030. The water to fill the newly expanded reservoir would be drawn from the Fraser and Williams Fork rivers — both tributaries of the Colorado River — and pumped across the Continental Divide to Boulder County via the Moffat Tunnel. The Colorado Wildlife Commission now has 60 days to review the mitigation plan, which addresses impacts on both sides of the divide, before providing a recommendation to the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
In Boulder County, the mitigation plan also calls for monitoring the stability of South Boulder Creek’s stream channel above Gross Reservoir, which would carry an increased amount of water if the expansion is approved. Denver Water would also add an extra 5,000 acre-feet of water to the reservoir that could be released in the winter to increase flows in South Boulder Creek below the dam.
The mitigation plan for the Gross Reservoir expansion was released at the same time as a mitigation plan for the Windy Gap Firming Project, which also seeks to bring more water to the Front Range from the Colorado River watershed. The Windy Gap project, which is being proposed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, would bring more water to some Boulder County towns, including Erie, Superior, Lafayette, Longmont and Superior…
Managers for the two projects also worked together to create an “enhancement plan” for the upper Colorado River tributaries that would address some of the ecological issues caused by low water flow in the area. Enhancements could include narrowing and deepening the river channel in some areas…
“The heavy focus on what they call enhancements — they are fine and good — but they really address past problems,” [Drew Peternell, director of Trout Unlimited’s Colorado Water Project] said. “What does this mean about these new projects?” Peternell said he also worries that the plan lacks teeth and clear thresholds for enforcement. For example, Trout Unlimited would like assurances that Denver Water will stop withdrawing water from the upper Colorado River if stream temperatures get too high, endangering fish. And they’re also concerned that spring “flushing flows” — which are ecologically important to the river — won’t be preserved.
Here’s the link to the Colorado Division of Wildlife website for the projects.
More Moffat Collection System Project coverage here and here. More Windy Gap coverage here and here.