Arkansas River basin: ‘At its most basic level, well augmentation replaces…depletions in stream flow’ — Scott Lorenz


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Scott Lorenz):

Formed in 1995, [Arkansas Ground Users Association] is dedicated to keeping agriculture viable and vibrant in the Arkansas Basin. AGUA and other groups fulfill a key role in the Arkansas Basin by helping to meet the water needs of agriculture through their well-augmentation services.

Since the majority of well pumping in the Arkansas Basin is performed under relatively junior water rights, decreases in streamflow must be replaced to prevent negative impacts to senior water rights holders.

At its most basic level, well augmentation replaces these depletions in stream flow caused by our members’ pumping. Well augmentation provides a legal, cost-effective solution that allows farmers to continue using water when it otherwise would not be available to them. Well augmentation adds efficiency and flexibility to a river system already feeling the pressure of overuse. Water for well augmentation comes from a variety of sources: surface water removed from low-production farms and converted for augmentation use, water from the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, and the one that I find most interesting, water leased from cities to put back on the farm. That’s right, in a basin that is struggling with the concept of how or even if water should be removed from the farm for municipal use, we are swimming the other way.

We take excess water from local cities and deliver it to our members through our augmentation plans. This cycle of water from city to farm manifests itself literally in the fruits and vegetables sold at roadside stands and farmers markets throughout the area.

More groundwater coverage here.

‘While the impacts to recreation in Chatfield State Park will be significant, they can be mitigated’ — Amy Conklin (Barr-Milton Watershed Association)


From the Highlands Ranch News-Herald (Jennifer Smith):

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a draft of the Chatfield Reservoir Storage Reallocation Feasibility Report/Environmental Impact Statement on June 8. In an effort to help meet the growing demand for water in the metro area, the study recommends reallocating 20,600 acre-feet of water from flood control to usable storage. This would raise the water in the recreation area by 12 feet, flooding some of the park and requiring reconfiguration of the marina and other amenities.

“The Chatfield Reallocation project has been intensively worked on for about 20 years,” said [Amy Conklin of the Barr-Milton Watershed Association]. “It is one of the few water projects in Colorado to gain support from agricultural, municipal, environmental and recreational stakeholders. While the impacts to recreation in Chatfield State Park will be significant, they can be mitigated. The impacts to the environment will likely be a net positive because of the increase in in-stream flows.”

Conklin notes the state will need the equivalent of four more Lake Dillons to meet its water needs by 2050. “Chatfield Dam is already there, and the lake has the storage capacity,” she said. “It is a water project that makes good sense.”

The Corps of Engineers says the proposal will regulate the flow of water from the reservoir into the river. Skot Latona, manager of South Platte Park, said such efforts could benefit the river habitat, depending on when water is stored and how it’s released.

More South Platte River basin coverage here and here.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project update: 365 CFS in the Big Thompson River below Olympus Dam


From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Just an update on Colorado-Big Thompson Project operations for the Big Thompson River and Pinewood Reservoir:

Tonight, June 11, after midnight, we will bump releases from Olympus Dam on Lake Estes up to 365 cubic feet per second. The increase will be made in several steps of 100 cfs each. As a result, by Tuesday morning, June 12, flows in the river at the top of the canyon should be around 365 cfs. We have had some downstream demands come on and folks need their C-BT water.

Meanwhile, we will also be closing the tunnel that takes water from Lake Estes into the southern power arm of the C-BT project. They will be conducting an inspection. With the tunnel down, Pinewood Reservoir will not have inflow. It will drop, probably about 10 or 12 feet, to a water level elevation around 6565 by Friday morning. It is currently at an elevation of about 6577–three feet from full.

Work should wrap up and the water level start rising again by the weekend.

More Colorado-Big Thompson coverage here.