Fryingpan-Arkansas Project update: 110 cfs in the Fryingpan River below Ruedi Reservoir


From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

As you have likely already heard or noticed, yesterday and today we are increasing releases from Ruedi Dam to the Fryingpan River. Yesterday, releases bumped up from 40 cfs to about 80 cfs. Today, they will bump up another 30 to about 110 cfs.

The change is seasonal. This time every year we adjust outflow from the dam. In a dry year, like this year, the release is typically the lesser of either inflow or 110 cfs. The reason for the seasonal change is so we can promote storage in the reservoir behind the dam as well as maintain flows in the Fryingpan River.

The reservoir is slowly starting to fill. We are hoping to fill it this year, but we have not finalized our May forecast for run-off, yet.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.

Green Mountain Reservoir operations update: 75 cfs in the Lower Blue River below the dam


From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

This morning, we had a slight change in releases from Green Mountain Dam to the Lower Blue River. To meet a call for water, we bumped releases up by 15 cfs. That means there is now approximately 75 cfs in the Lower Blue below the dam.

Meanwhile, the road across Green Mountain Dam is still closed as we upgrade the bridge. Access below the dam and to the Town of Heeney is open by driving around the reservoir from the south.

More Green Mountain Reservoir coverage here and here.

The latest edition of the Colorado Water 2012 newsletter is hot off the press


Here’s the link to the May 2012 Newsletter from Colorado Water 2012. Click through and read the whole thing along with the impressive list of events that are planned over the next few months.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

Carrizo Creek: Students, Scientists Team Up On Stream Survey


Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife via

A team of 20 Campo School students armed with sharp eyes and nets helped scientists learn more about a rare Eastern Plains fish community last week by participating in an aquatic life survey on the East Fork of Carrizzo Creek as it runs through the Sikes Ranch in southeastern Colorado.

Working alongside Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists, the students collected fish stunned by a mild electric shock, netted them and then recorded data such as species, size and location. Fish were also collected using trap nets, dip nets and seines. The information will be used to help develop management goals for the property.

“This is a fun science project that gave students an experience that will have a long-lasting impact,” said Chris Pague, lead scientist for the Nature Conservancy of Colorado, which partnered with the state agency on the project. “The Sikes Ranch is a unique piece of property with amazing pools and streams. Some of the fish and plants found here are not found anywhere else in the state.”

The 7,100-acre ranch, located between the small communities of Pritchett and Kim, consists of shortgrass prairie, riparian woodlands, rocky outcrops, shrublands, marshes and an Eastern Plains stream. The headwaters of the East Fork of Carrizo Creek provides a critical and unique riparian corridor for migrating waterfowl and amphibians as well as native prairie fishes. The property also has three crop circles irrigated from well water that provide feeding areas for mule deer and white-tailed deer as well as several species of birds including quail and lesser prairie chicken.

Management goals could include protecting portions of the water with fences and managing grazing to ensure water is delivered to livestock while protecting the vegetation and stream banks.

“Without the efforts of landowners like the Sikes, Coloradans would not enjoy the remarkable wildlife heritage we have today,” said District Wildlife Manager Aaron Bartleson of Springfield. “This research will paint a clear picture of how amphibians and fish are doing in this area. We can use this data to work with the Sikes family and the Conservancy to help protect this important habitat.”

The stream survey by the Conservancy and Colorado Parks and Wildlife is part of a broader conservation effort to protect the Sikes Ranch and provide recreation for Coloradoans. The Nature Conservancy will place a conservation easement on 7,100 acres of the ranch, which will help support the family’s bottom line while precluding future development. Once that’s completed, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will place a public access easement on the land, which means people can hike to observe wildlife and hunt in the area.

“We’re thrilled we can provide this opportunity to connect people with the landscape,” added Bartleson “Some of life’s best memories are made outdoors.”

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have helped protect 130 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

Colorado Parks and Wildlife was created by the merger of Colorado State Parks and the Colorado Division of Wildlife, two nationally recognized leaders in conservation, outdoor recreation and wildlife management. Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages 42 state parks, all of Colorado’s wildlife, more than 300 state wildlife areas and a host of recreational programs.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

‘The Watershed’ to be screened at Whole Foods stores in May


From Whole Foods via

Whole Foods Market announces the online premiere of “WATERSHED: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West,” the second film in this year’s Do Something Reel Film Festival. Produced by James Redford, narrated by his father, Robert Redford, and directed by award-winning filmmaker, Mark Decena, “WATERSHED” will be available to online audiences for one month, beginning May 1, at for $5.99.

“WATERSHED” tells the story of the threats to the once-mighty Colorado River, a river so dammed, dibbed and diverted, it no longer flows to its natural end at the Gulf of California. Told through heartening character vignettes, this film defines the demands of 30 million people on this precious water lifeline and illustrates the simple and effective solutions available to all to restore this watershed.

“The American West is defined by the Colorado River. It is as hardworking as it is gorgeous, but it needs someone to give it a voice,” said James Redford, producer of “WATERSHED.” “If we can raise awareness of the unprecedented demands placed on this mighty river, and then engage the masses to conserve just 5 percent of their water usage, we will have done something crucial to keep this river healthy for future generations.”

Do Something Reel, which kicked off on Earth Day, is an ongoing collection of provocative films about food and environmental issues that can be purchased and streamed online at for a limited time. Whole Foods Market will stream a different film each month with proceeds helping to fund the 2012 Whole Foods Market/AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Festival filmmaker grants. The festival is presented in association with Applegate Organic & Natural Meat, Earthbound Farm Organic, Popcorn Indiana, and siggi’s.

“WATERSHED” will be screened in-store at select Whole Foods Market locations across the country throughout the month of May. A list of screenings and tips on how to conserve water and work towards a greener planet can be found at and on the company’s Facebook page, under the Movie Premier tab. To further support the film’s mission, Whole Foods Market has partnered with Crowdrise to help those inspired by the storyline to take action in several ways including donating to the Colorado River Delta Water Trust: . Crowdrise is a platform that provides fundraisers, charities and events with a unique way to raise money and share compelling stories with personal networks, allowing anyone to turn friends into an active base of donors for a cause.

Here’s the link to the trailer.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

Snowpack/drought/runoff news: Upper Colorado River basin drops to 25% of average, South Platte = 37%



Click on the thumbnail graphics for the current statewide snowpack map and the Basin High/Low graph for the South Platte Basin (the basins that millions of Coloradans depend on) from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The storm last week kept the South Platte about 1 inch of SWE above 2002 and moved the Upper Colorado River basin to the 2002 line. Keep doing your rain dances.

From The Denver Post (Kyle Wagner):

Colorado’s reservoirs are at normal levels, according to Denver Water, and state rivers are running at or below normal flows for this time of year. That means rafting, particularly for first-timers and families, could be just right.

“Here’s the thing that people forget,” says David Costlow, executive director of the Colorado River Outfitters Association. “Low season doesn’t mean no water. That snow still comes down that defined ditch. It might not ever get to the super-wild stage, but there’s water, and it flows. It will still be at an acceptable level for people to get out there and have a great time.”

Costlow says that despite rumors outside the industry, concerns that this season will be a repeat of the severe drought of 2002 are unlikely. “I make a point of keeping in contact with what I call the ‘water buffaloes,’ you know, Denver Water, CWC (Colorado Water Congress), to see what their take is. Well, it’s gonna be low, yes, but it’s not going to be 2002.”[…]

Outfitters on the Arkansas River are in especially good shape, Costlow says, because they’re on a voluntary flow-management program that allows for a dam release of water from the reservoirs upstream. “That water’s always there when they need it,” he explains. “Like last year, it wasn’t needed really until right at the end. This year, they’ll probably need it earlier.”

From The Aspen Times (Janet Urquhart):

Flows out of Ruedi increase seasonally on May 1, according to Kara Lamb, spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The agency began increasing the release Monday, anticipating a hike in flows into the Fryingpan below the dam from 45 cubic feet per second to 80 cfs by the end of the day. Another increase Tuesday is expected to bring the flow on the lower Fryingpan to 110 cfs, which is typical for this time of year, according to Lamb.

In a normal spring, runoff from melting snow coming into the reservoir, located east of Basalt, would peak in late May or early June, she said. Next week, the bureau will have a better idea of what to expect this spring, after the latest data have been analyzed, but it’s a good bet flows coming into Ruedi won’t match the surge experienced last year…

The bureau expects Ruedi and the other reservoirs in the Fryingpan-Arkansas transmountain diversion system, as well as reservoirs in the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, to fill up this spring, according to Lamb. Both projects transfer water from Colorado’s Western Slope to the Front Range. The reservoirs started out in good shape because last year was a strong one for water collection, Lamb said…

Among Western Slope reservoirs that send water west instead of east, however, both Taylor Park and Blue Mesa reservoirs are expected to reach only 80 to 85 percent of capacity, according to Dan Crabtree, water management group chief for the bureau’s Grand Junction office. Other, smaller reservoirs, including Paonia, Ridgway and Silverjack, are all expected to fill up, he said…

…in the Roaring Fork River Basin on Monday, the snowpack was down to 19 percent of average, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS. The SNOTEL measuring site on Independence Pass, located southeast of Aspen at 10,600 feet in elevation, was holding 4 inches of snow Monday, down from 7 inches Sunday. Snow at the measuring site is likely to be gone by Tuesday, said Mage Skordahl, assistant snow survey supervisor for the NRCS in Denver. That doesn’t mean snow has disappeared from the pass, but that it’s melted off the SNOTEL measuring station, she said.

Updated streamflow forecasts will soon be available, according to Skordahl, but projections based solely on snowpack put the flow into Ruedi Reservoir at 55 percent of average from April through July, she said. The Roaring Fork River flow at Glenwood Springs is expected to be at 45 percent of average for the same period.

Southern Delivery System: ‘Pueblo will not pay for the failure of the Colorado Springs stormwater enterprise’ — Jeff Chostner


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“We’re paying five times per capita in Pueblo County, while El Paso County has five times the resources,” Chostner said. “Pueblo will not pay for the failure of the Colorado Springs stormwater enterprise. This has implications for the 1041 permit.”

The Fountain Creek board got its first look at a regional stormwater study by Summit Economics that suggests a coordinated regional approach is needed to meet a backlog of more than $750 million in stormwater management needs. The study, which will be finalized after the sponsors have a chance to review it, also points out that Colorado Springs pays only $4.63 per capita for stormwater protection, less than one-tenth of the Front Range average. Pueblo pays $25.81 per capita.

Chostner, who guided the Fountain Creek board away from contributing any money to the study, was adamant that it is not Pueblo’s responsibility to pay for stormwater projects in Colorado Springs, which abolished its stormwater enterprise in 2009. As part of 2009 Pueblo County 1041 conditions, Colorado Springs agreed to provide $50 million to the district over five years after SDS goes online in 2016. Chostner balked at the economists’ suggestion that some of that money could defray stormwater costs. “This board decides how to spend that,” he said.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.