With inflows to Blue Mesa Reservoir decreasing towards summer base flow levels, it appears to be time to reduce releases at Crystal Reservoir with the intention of ending the bypass releases. Blue Mesa Reservoir elevation peaked at 7519.25 feet on July 17th and now the reservoir is down to 7517.4 feet. Releases at Crystal Dam will be decreased by a total of 1100 cfs over the next 6 days, starting Saturday morning, July 30th and ending Thursday morning, August 4th. Releases will be decreased 200 cfs a day with a 100 cfs change occurring twice a day until the bypass release at Crystal Dam has ended. This should bring flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon down to around 1100 cfs by Thursday afternoon.
We have finally concluded what was a fairly significant run-off season. Inflows to Ruedi have dropped off to normal levels for this time of year, around maybe 210 cfs at night. As a result, we have cut back releases from the dam to the lower Fryingpan. The reductions in releases began the week of July 11 and continued through this past week. Currently, we are releasing about 213 cfs from Ruedi Dam to the ‘Pan. The Rocky Fork is running at about 13 cfs for a total of about 226 cfs past the Ruedi Dam gage. The reservoir elevation is just shy of full–about three feet down from its high elevation of 7766 feet.
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor has announced the award of a $5,612,780 contract to Lillard and Clark Construction Company Inc. of Denver to replace the Pole Hill Canal on the Colorado-Big Thompson Project near Loveland, Colo.
“Ensuring that Reclamation facilities are reliable is paramount to the mission of delivering water and generating power,” said Commissioner Connor. “This project will create good jobs in Colorado while ensuring that the Pole Hill Canal will safely meet the project demands now and into the future.”
The project will consist of removal of existing concrete lining and structures, installing furnished precast concrete box culverts, installing safety systems including ladders, float systems, guardrails and fences and other work including rock excavation and constructing gravel roads.
The half-mile Pole Hill Canal was built in 1952 and is part of the conveyance system that brings water to the east slope of the Colorado-Big-Thompson Project. The project stores, regulates and diverts water from the Colorado River on the western slope of the Continental Divide to the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains.
More coverage from Michael Auslen writing for the Loveland Reporter-Herald. From the article:
The half-mile-long canal southwest of Loveland is part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, a system of canals and dams that transports water to eastern Colorado communities from the west side of the Continental Divide and generates hydroelectric power.
The canal is uncovered, the primary reason it’s scheduled to be rebuilt and covered with box culverts by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. The bureau is the federal agency that manages the Colorado-Big Thompson Project and similar water diversion projects in Western states.
“It caught me by surprise,” said Henry Schnabel, chairman of the Prowers County commissioners. “I’m encouraged that the Elbert County commissioners aren’t jumping out and making a decision. I hope they are reasoning this issue on some level that can address the impact on the county where the water is being taken.”
Elbert County Commissioner Kurt Schlegel said his board is concerned with what happens in Elbert County. “We don’t have any say-so with water rights outside of the county,” Schlegel said.
While there is some speculation about whether the water would be used to support a burgeoning oil and gas development industry, Schlegel said the primary use for the water would remain residential and for commercial development in Elbert County based on public presentations.
The Elbert-86 metro district manager, Karl Nyquist, is traveling and could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman said the district plans to share more details about its plans in the next month. “We’re looking forward to explaining the details of what we believe is a conscientious project that will benefit communities on both ends of the pipe,” said Michele Ames, district spokeswoman. “That’s why we’ll be holding public meetings soon in both Elbert and Prowers counties in hopes that community members will come, hear about the project and get their questions answered.
More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
“Because of our free enterprise system, there’s nothing preventing anyone from doing a water project,” said John Stulp, who chairs the Interbasin Compact Committee. “Still, I think the people who have been involved in this project should have taken it to the roundtables.”[…]
The Colorado Water Conservation Board last year completed a study looking at various transbasin proposals. It found the costs of moving water from the Lower Arkansas Valley were high because of water quality and the pumping costs because of the increase in elevation. However, the CWCB has not studied this particular proposal.
“It was a surprise to me,” said Alan Hamel, CWCB member and executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works. “My personal hope, as a CWCB member from the Arkansas Basin, is that they will share the project with the roundtables, so issues can be identified and everyone better understands what’s being proposed.”[…]
The pipeline, rather than being advanced in secrecy, should be evaluated both for the potential benefits and harm, Hamel said. “The negative impacts of this project are entirely to our basin,” he said.