Colorado River Basin: Denver Water, et al., are operating under the Shoshone Outage Protocol

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News:

Even though the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement has not been executed by all parties, Denver Water and the Colorado River Water Conservation District have provided some of the benefits promised.

The U.S. Forest Service “bypass” flows to the Fraser River can be reduced if Denver Water institutes restrictions. In April, Denver Water enacted a Stage 1 drought calling for customers to voluntarily reduce their water use.

Under the Cooperative Agreement, Denver Water has agreed not to reduce Forest Service bypass flows unless it institutes “in-house” only restrictions. The Cooperative Agreement is not in force yet, awaiting execution by a few remaining parties, but regardless, Denver Water, in the spirit of a new way of doing business, did not reduce bypass flows. As a result, more water stayed in the Fraser River.

In this year of historically low runoff, the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Denver Water and the Bureau of Reclamation are cooperating to add flows to the Colorado River for the benefit of irrigation, fish and rafting from the Williams Fork confluence with the Colorado River beyond the Grand County boundary. The additional water is the result of the Shoshone Outage Protocol, a part of the Cooperative Agreement .

The Protocol is designed to add water to the Colorado River when the Shoshone Hydro Plant in Glenwood Canyon is not using its senior water right due to operational issues. The Shoshone water right normally would have the river flowing at 1,250 cubic feet per second (cfs) at Dotsero.

The week of June 10, the three reservoir operators (Denver Water, the Conservation District, Bureau of Reclamation) increased river flows by about 450 cfs through releases from Williams Fork Reservoir, Wolford Mountain Reservoir, and Green Mountain Reservoir.

Flows in Glenwood Canyon were boosted to around 1,100 cfs. The 71-year average of flows for this time of the year in Glenwood Canyon is more than 6,000 cfs.

The additional flows provided by the Outage Protocol helped lower water temperature levels in the river to help trout survive.

“The Shoshone Outage Protocol made a real difference in the river,” said Colorado River District general manager Eric Kuhn. “Since we started, you can see by the gauge that the temperature of the water has come down 4 degrees Fahrenheit.”

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

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