USFWS: Spring Releases for Endangered Fish a ‘No Go’ This Year #ColoradoRiver


Here’s the release from the Fish and Wildlife Service (Kara Lamb) and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Michelle Garrison):

A voluntary river flow program to provide enhanced spring peak flows for endangered fish will not take effect this year. Operators of Dillon, Green Mountain, Williams Fork, Wolford and Ruedi reservoirs cannot implement the Coordinated Reservoirs Operations program this spring because river flows in western Colorado will not approach levels where increased flows would benefit the endangered fishes. Extremely dry conditions throughout 2012 combined with below average conditions in 2013 have resulted in low reservoir storage and below average spring runoff. The current forecast for the water supply for the Colorado River at Cameo near Grand Junction, Colo., is 52 to 65 percent of average.

The Coordinated Reservoir Operations Program was established in 1995 as part of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program. Its purpose is to enhance spring peak flows to a section of the Colorado River upstream of Grand Junction without causing flooding. In years when snowpack is above average, surplus inflows to the upstream reservoirs can be passed on downstream to benefit two species of endangered fish in the Colorado River: the Colorado pikeminnow and the razorback sucker.

This spring, most of the basin reservoir operators expect to approach, but not achieve, their goals of filling the reservoirs. Streamflows are predicted to remain significantly below the Coordinated Reservoir Operations target threshold of 12,900 cubic-feet-per-second in the Colorado River near Grand Junction.

From the Associated Press via The San Francisco Chronicle:

Under a voluntary program, when mountain snowpack is above average, the operators of Dillon, Green Mountain, Williams Fork, Wolford and Ruedi reservoirs release water to enhance spring peak Colorado River flows for the Colorado pikeminnow and the razorback sucker. The Fish and Wildlife Service said Friday that this year, river flows won’t be high enough to trigger the releases.

More endangered/threatened species coverage here.

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