Grand Mesa: Rotenone to be used to reclaim Water Dog Reservoir

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Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

The public is advised that Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be reclaiming Water Dog Reservoir to remove white suckers beginning Sept. 5. The reservoir is located on the Grand Mesa, east of Grand Junction. Lands around the reservoir are managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Anglers and others engaged in recreation in the area are asked to observe posted signs and avoid the area around the reservoir until further notice. Wildlife managers expect the project will be completed by the middle of October.

The most recent survey performed by wildlife managers found only white suckers present in the reservoir. Wildlife managers say that white suckers, likely introduced by anglers using them as live bait, can displace rainbow trout.

Once the work is complete, Colorado Parks and Wildlife plans to stock rainbow trout into the reservoir in the early summer of 2013.

“Water Dog is a productive reservoir and had been an excellent rainbow trout fishery,” said Lori Martin, aquatic biologist from Grand Junction. “Because there are only white suckers in the reservoir, and the current water volume is low, it gives us an opportunity to eliminate the suckers and restore the sport fishery.”

At full capacity, the reservoir is approximately 24 surface acres, but it was recently drawn down to approximately 15 surface acres to meet the needs of downstream water users.

White suckers will be removed through the application of rotenone, a toxicant derived from a South American plant. Rotenone has been used as a fisheries management tool throughout Colorado and the United States for decades because it degrades quickly and poses no danger to other wildlife or humans.

Application will be carefully controlled and the water will be monitored afterward by aquatic biologists from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. No treated water will be released from the project area before detoxification of the water is confirmed.

Dead fish will be left to decompose naturally to recycle important nutrients as the reservoir fills. The public is prohibited from harvesting fish killed by the project, and people are asked to avoid the reservoir while the project is underway.

“We look forward to restoring Water Dog Reservoir as a great place for anglers to catch rainbows,” said Martin. “We encourage anglers to be ethical and follow fishing rules and regulations to prevent live baitfish from establishing populations that will negatively impact our sport fisheries.”

Wildlife managers remind the public that with the exception of Navajo Reservoir, the use of live fish as bait is illegal in all waters west of the Continental Divide in Colorado. Violators can face significant fines and the permanent loss of hunting and fishing privileges. For more information about angling ethics, please visit: http://wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/ResourcesTips/AnglerEthics/Pages/AnglerEthics.aspx

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.

Nineteen wetland and riparian restoration projects score upwards of $1 million in grants

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Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has selected 19 wetland and riparian restoration projects that will share in more than $1 million in grants for the 2012 Wetlands Program grant cycle.

The selected grant applications include projects to remove invasive trees along the Republican River in northeastern Colorado, improve wet meadow hydrology and habitat in the Upper Gunnison Basin, and enhance marshes in the San Luis Valley. The selected projects encompass 2,870 acres around the state with project partners including private landowners and county, state and federal agencies.

“Wetland habitat covers less than two percent of the land in Colorado, but it provides benefits to 75 percent of the wildlife species in the state,” said Brian Sullivan, Wetlands Program Coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The value of wetlands can’t be overstated. About 125 species that are found here in Colorado are dependent on wetlands for their survival, including 98 species of migratory birds.”

The species that will benefit from the projects funded during the 2012 cycle include waterfowl and 20 priority non-game species. Those species include the bald eagle, northern leopard frog, piping plover, least tern, Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, river otter and southwest willow flycatcher.

The funded projects will receive a share of $1,018,020 that was available this grant cycle. Funds for the Wetland Program come from lottery-funded Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and sales of the Colorado waterfowl stamp.

“GOCO shares the commitment to wetland preservation and restoration and has been contributing to these efforts since 1995,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, GOCO Executive Director.

The Colorado waterfowl stamp program is designed to conserve wetlands for waterfowl and water birds. To date the stamp program has provided more than $6.7 million to help fund projects to protect more than 19,500 acres of wetlands. Wetlands conservation efforts of the Waterfowl Stamp Program improve habitat for ducks, geese, and more than 500 other species of shorebirds, songbirds, amphibians and reptiles.

“As well as improving wildlife habitat, many of these projects will improve public hunting opportunities for waterfowl,” said Rick Cables, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Eight of these projects are on state wildlife areas, and two on national wildlife refuges, all of which are open to public hunting.” Cables added that through the wetlands grant funding, limited public hunting will also be allowed on two tracts of private land.

The complete list of 2012 wetland and riparian restoration projects can be found online at http://wildlife.state.co.us/LANDWATER/WETLANDSPROGRAM/PROJECTFUNDING/Pages/WetlandsProjectFunding.aspx

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.

The latest newsletter from the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University is hot off the press

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Click here to read the newsletter. Thank to Gigi Richards Twitter feed @igig42 for the heads up.

More education coverage here.

Colorado Water 2012: Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project update

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Here’s the latest installment of the Valley Couriers’s Colorado Water 2012 series, written by Heather Dutton of the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

In 2001, the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District sponsored a 90-mile study of the Rio Grande, the 2001 Study, which identified causes of concern and potential methods of remediation. The 2001 study was completed with guidance from a Technical Advisory Committee composed of representatives from local, state, and federal entities. The Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project (RGHRP) was formed to implement the recommendations of the 2001 Study.

In 2004, the Colorado Rio Grande Restoration Foundation (Foundation) was formed to act as the governing body and fiscal agent of the RGHRP. The Foundation is a Colorado 501(c)(3) organization. Since establishment, the RGHRP has accrued a successful record of performing projects on the Rio Grande through the Streambank Stabilization and Riparian Restoration Program, In-Stream Structure Repair and Replacement Program, and Outreach and Education Program…

The RGHRP seeks to bring people together and build relationships, which result in projects that enhance the ecological, cultural, and agriculture value of the Rio Grande. Although great progress has been made in addressing the issues identified in the 2001 Study, the need continues for projects to improve the condition of the Rio Grande Basin. The RGHRP is always interested in developing new projects and partnerships. If you would like to work with the RGHRP or would like more information about program activities please contact Heather Dutton, Coordinator, at 589-2230 or visit the RGHRP website at riograndeheadwaters.org.

More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.

NIDIS Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment Summary of the Upper Colorado River Basin #CODrought

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Click on the thumbnail graphic for the precipitation summary for August and the SNOTEL summary for water year 2012. Here’s the link to the summaries.

Drought news: Dillon Reservoir continues to drop

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

The current elevation of the reservoir (9,002.53) feet, is 15 feet below full and about 10 feet below the average elevation for this date, which is about 9,012 feet Most recently, the reservoir dropped to near the current levelsin spring of 2009, when it hit as at 9,006.72 just before the start of the runoff season in mid-March. The current level may seem low, but the water dropped more than 40 feet lower in 2003 during Colorado’s last significant drought, reaching its lowest point on March 18, 2003, at 8,960.86 feet.

The reservoir will continue to drop the next few months, said Bob Steger, Denver Water’s manager of raw water supply, explaining that the combined current outflow through the Roberts Tunnel and the Blue River far exceeds the inflow of the streams that feed the reservoir.

As of Aug. 28, Denver was was diverting about 380 cubic feet per second through the tunnel, with about 53 cfs flowing downstream into the Lower Blue, with the combined inflow from the Snake, Blue Tenmile and other minor tributaries combining for an inflow of about 145 cfs for the month of August. The average August inflow is about 270 cfs, Steger said. At this rate, the reservoir will drop about 12 feet by the end of October. If the weather turns very dry, it could drop another 10 feet; if late summer and fall are wet, the level could be a little higher going into the cold season.

Fort Morgan Water Treatment Plant is trying to get a handle on odor causing bacteria — actinomycetes

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From The Fort Morgan Times (Jenni Grubbs):

City workers at the Fort Morgan Water Treatment Plant have identified the source of an earthy odor and sometimes taste in city water that had been reported by residents over the last year.
Now, the workers are seeking to eliminate the cause of the odor, which was due to a treatment process to kill and remove naturally occurring, nontoxic bacteria called actinomycetes, according to City Clerk/Public Information Officer John Brennan.

“It is actually the destruction of these bacteria during the water treatment process, not the bacteria themselves, that can cause a musty odor that is noticeable to some people in the finished water that comes out of their faucets,” Brennan stated.

Actinomycetes are a large group of bacteria that are responsible for the characteristically “earthy” smell of freshly turned, healthy soil, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

Modifications are being made to the treatment process to help get rid of this odor. “Some of the chemicals used in treatment can intensify the odors that result from destruction of the bacteria,” Brennan stated. “Other treatment options are being investigated that are not currently used in the process.”

City residents reported earthy odors and organic smells and tastes in city water as far back as late summer 2011.

More water treatment coverage here and here.

Elk River: Late summer water rights administration has water commissioners hopping

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From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

The Elk just above its confluence with the Yampa was flowing at 29 cubic feet per second Tuesday morning, well below its median flow of 100 cfs for the date…

Water Commissioner Brian Romig has shut down eight ditches because they had no flow-measuring device to confirm the water rights holder was not taking more water from the Elk than he or she was entitled to. In addition, Light said, Romig has pulled 20 pumps from the river. That step was taken because the pump owners did not have a decreed water right, did not have a measuring device or were removing water under a right that was junior to the Colorado Division of Water Resources’ right to protect a baseline flow, which dates back to 1977.

In two cases, Romig required water users to reduce the amount of water they were taking out of the river…

Even though the Colorado Division of Water Resources’ minimum flow right is junior to most of the agricultural water rights along the Elk, it takes precedence when those rights holders do not use proper measuring devices on their head gates, [District 6 State Water Engineer Erin Light] explained. An improperly installed flow-measuring device can indicate that a water rights holder is removing more water than he or she is entitled to, she said…

The Colorado Division of Water Resources has the right to put a call on the Elk when its flow dips below 65 cfs, Light said. But that doesn’t mean the result will be that the river is restored to that level. So far, she said Romig’s efforts have increased the flow of the river by 6 to 10 cfs, and he may not be able to find much more water that can remain in the Elk in order to protect the natural systems…

The enforcement of water rights comes at the end of the irrigation season when most of the hay crop has been harvested and irrigators are turning water on their hay fields to generate some regrowth in order to pasture cattle and to demonstrate continuous use of their water rights.

More Yampa River Basin coverage here and here.