Fryingpan, Roaring Fork rivers retain Gold Medal Trout Waters designation — The Aspen Times

Map of the Roaring Fork River watershed via the Roaring Fork Conservancy
Map of the Roaring Fork River watershed via the Roaring Fork Conservancy

From the Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

A survey conducted by Colorado Parks and Wildlife last fall determined the rivers still have the quantity and size of fish to retain their distinguished designation as Gold Medal Trout Waters, according to Kendall Bakich, aquatic biologist for Parks and Wildlife.

“It turned out really well,” Bakich said. “The numbers we’re seeing on the river are similar to what we’ve seen in prior surveys.”

“We just confirmed that it’s Gold Medal,” she added.

A 13-mile stretch of the Fryingpan River from Ruedi Dam to the confluence with the Roaring Fork River is designated Gold Medal Trout Water as well as the Roaring Fork River from Basalt to the confluence with the Colorado River. All told, that’s a 42-mile stretch.

For years, that’s been the longest contiguous stretch of Gold Medal Trout Water in Colorado. But the local rivers lost their title in January, through no fault of their own. It’s now bestowed on a 102-mile stretch of the Upper Arkansas River from near Leadville south to near the Royal Gorge, according to Parks and Wildlife. That stretch of the Arkansas River earned Gold Medal status after years of efforts to restore the fishery, the agency said…

While the Crystal River isn’t known for its rainbow trout population, it has a larger percentage of rainbows among the overall fish population than either the Fryingpan or Roaring Fork, according to Bakich. The Crystal River has erratic flows that limit fish populations. It usually has high flows for a constrained river in the spring and extremely low flows during late summer and fall because of diversions.

The high streamflow has helped keep brown trout populations lower on the Crystal River.

“Brown trout tend to be lazy,” Bakich said. “They like slower water.”[…]

The survey showed evidence of three varieties of native fish on the Roaring Fork River. Roundtail chub were found near the confluence with the Colorado River. Flannelmouth suckers are found as far upstream as Carbondale, while bluehead suckers are found as high as Basalt, according to Bakich.

More Roaring Fork River watershed coverage here.

Rio Grande Basin Roundtable: The Rio Grande Basin Plan is essential to the Valley’s future #COWaterPlan

Pond on the Garcia Ranch via Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust
Pond on the Garcia Ranch via Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust

From the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable via the Valley Courier:

The last decade has brought many changes to Colorado’s water supply outlook. Even with the recent economic recession, the state will continue to experience significant population growth. Other pressures on Colorado’s water supply include: severe drought, meeting multiple needs (e.g., municipal, agricultural, environmental , and recreational) with existing resources, and agricultural impacts due to water shortages, urbanization and transfers to new uses.

The state’s river systems generate an average 16 million acre feet (AF) of renewable water each year, however two-thirds of this water is obligated to leave the state under various interstate compacts and agreements. In addition, of the 16 million AF, about 80 percent of the water is on the Western Slope, while approximately 80 percent of the state’s population resides on the Eastern Slope. Most of the irrigated agriculture lands are on the Eastern Slope as well. Colorado’s dry climate creates many challenges for water users, who frequently move water vast distances from its source to its area of use.

These types of challenges made the water law structure that is common in the eastern United States, (riparian law) unrealistic. Riparian law says that only those with land adjoining the stream have a right to use the stream water. Colorado adopted a different system – prior appropriation . This system is commonly summed up as “first in time, first in right.” This means that those with senior (older) rights can begin to use water before junior (newer) rights holders in times of water shortages. (CFWE, 2014)

Colorado needed a clear classification of law to recognize and protect water rights, with consistent administration and enforcement, yet with the flexibility to allow those rights to be transferred, sold, or exchanged. The Colorado Doctrine of Prior Appropriation is a set of laws governing water use and land ownership adopted by the people of Colorado starting in the 1860s.

The four major principles are: All surface and groundwater in Colorado is a public resource for beneficial use by public agencies, private persons, and entities; A water right is a right to use a portion of the public’s water resources; Water rights owners may build facilities on the lands of others to divert, extract, or move water from a stream or aquifer to its place of use; and, Water rights owners may use streams and aquifers for the transportation and storage of surface water and groundwater to meet owners’ water supply needs.

Today’s water managers are tasked with solving the state’s water issues against overwhelming obstacles. This why the State Water Plan is so important. The plan will provide a framework for water managers moving forward. The plan will allow for wise and thoughtful water supply planning that addresses critical issue within each basin securing future water needs across the state. The plan must be done in a manner that considers all solutions and addresses the varied water needs of Colorado and its citizens.

The Rio Grande basin Roundtable has been tasked with preparing a multidimensional basin plan for the upper Rio Grande. Water management is an issue that touches every resident in the San Luis Valley, particularly as it pertains to aquifer sustainability.

The basin’s water is under continuous curtailment as it works to meet Compact compliance. This is why water users in the basin keep water inventory current and are taking steps to ensure reservoirs can store constructed volumes. The Rio Grande Basin Plan will provide a variety of tools that all water administrators can use to preserve the social, cultural and economic resilience of the Rio Grande Basin. As the Water Administration goals are formed the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable would like public input to be considered. The most effective methods for stakeholders to become involved is in one of three ways: 1) attend the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable monthly meetings (These meeting are held the second Tuesday of each month at the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District office at 623 Fourth Street in Alamosa, Colorado.) or; 2) send your comments directly to us online at www. riograndewaterplan.webs. com and; 3) attend any one of the five BIP subcommittee meetings that can be found on the BIP website. The lead consultant and local liaison from DiNatale Water Consultants is Tom Spezze, Tom can be contacted at tom@ dinatalewater.comThis is the fourth article in the series from the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable, regarding the implementation of the Basin Water Plan. VALLEY The last decade has brought many changes to Colorado’s water supply outlook. Even with the recent economic recession, the state will continue to experience significant population growth. Other pressures on Colorado’s water supply include: severe drought, meeting multiple needs (e.g., municipal, agricultural, environmental , and recreational) with existing resources, and agricultural impacts due to water shortages, urbanization and transfers to new uses.

The state’s river systems generate an average 16 million acre feet (AF) of renewable water each year, however two-thirds of this water is obligated to leave the state under various interstate compacts and agreements. In addition, of the 16 million AF, about 80 percent of the water is on the Western Slope, while approximately 80 percent of the state’s population resides on the Eastern Slope. Most of the irrigated agriculture lands are on the Eastern Slope as well. Colorado’s dry climate creates many challenges for water users, who frequently move water vast distances from its source to its area of use.

These types of challenges made the water law structure that is common in the eastern United States, (riparian law) unrealistic. Riparian law says that only those with land adjoining the stream have a right to use the stream water. Colorado adopted a different system – prior appropriation . This system is commonly summed up as “first in time, first in right.” This means that those with senior (older) rights can begin to use water before junior (newer) rights holders in times of water shortages. (CFWE, 2014)

Colorado needed a clear classification of law to recognize and protect water rights, with consistent administration and enforcement, yet with the flexibility to allow those rights to be transferred, sold, or exchanged. The Colorado Doctrine of Prior Appropriation is a set of laws governing water use and land ownership adopted by the people of Colorado starting in the 1860s.

The four major principles are: All surface and groundwater in Colorado is a public resource for beneficial use by public agencies, private persons, and entities; A water right is a right to use a portion of the public’s water resources; Water rights owners may build facilities on the lands of others to divert, extract, or move water from a stream or aquifer to its place of use; and, Water rights owners may use streams and aquifers for the transportation and storage of surface water and groundwater to meet owners’ water supply needs.

Today’s water managers are tasked with solving the state’s water issues against overwhelming obstacles. This why the State Water Plan is so important. The plan will provide a framework for water managers moving forward. The plan will allow for wise and thoughtful water supply planning that addresses critical issue within each basin securing future water needs across the state. The plan must be done in a manner that considers all solutions and addresses the varied water needs of Colorado and its citizens.

The Rio Grande basin Roundtable has been tasked with preparing a multidimensional basin plan for the upper Rio Grande. Water management is an issue that touches every resident in the San Luis Valley, particularly as it pertains to aquifer sustainability.

The basin’s water is under continuous curtailment as it works to meet Compact compliance. This is why water users in the basin keep water inventory current and are taking steps to ensure reservoirs can store constructed volumes. The Rio Grande Basin Plan will provide a variety of tools that all water administrators can use to preserve the social, cultural and economic resilience of the Rio Grande Basin. As the Water Administration goals are formed the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable would like public input to be considered. The most effective methods for stakeholders to become involved is in one of three ways: 1) attend the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable monthly meetings (These meeting are held the second Tuesday of each month at the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District office at 623 Fourth Street in Alamosa, Colorado.) or; 2) send your comments directly to us online at http://www. riograndewaterplan.webs. com and; 3) attend any one of the five BIP subcommittee meetings that can be found on the BIP website. The lead consultant and local liaison from DiNatale Water Consultants is Tom Spezze, Tom can be contacted at tom@dinatalewater.com

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

Reclamation issues record of decision for the Arkansas Valley Conduit

Arkansas Valley Conduit Comanche North route via Reclamation
Arkansas Valley Conduit Comanche North route via Reclamation

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Colorado’s U.S. senators hailed the federal record of decision for the Arkansas Valley Conduit this week, calling it a major milestone to bringing clean drinking water to communities in Southern Colorado.

The record of decision affirms the choice of the North Comanche route for the pipeline, as well as setting up a master contract for storage of nearly 30,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Pueblo. It also sets the path for a cross-connection at Pueblo Dam that eventually will link the north and south outlets.

Construction of the conduit, which could cost up to $400 million, still requires funding from Congress. When completed, it will provide water to 50,000 people in 40 communities east of Pueblo.

“Colorado knows well that water is an extremely precious resource, and the Arkansas Valley Conduit will help ensure families in Southeastern Colorado have access to a safe and healthy water supply,” said Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo. “Today’s announcement couldn’t be more important to southeast Colorado, and it demonstrates the Interior Department’s commitment to getting this project done.”

“This project, the final component of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, will help strengthen Colorado’s agricultural economy, our quality of life and rural communities throughout Southeastern Colorado,” said Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo. “Water is our most valuable resource in Colorado, and we need to make every drop count.”

Bennet and Udall have led efforts to secure resources and move forward with the construction of the Conduit. In addition to advocating for quick approval of the EIS, the senators have written to the Department of Interior to provide adequate resources for construction of the Conduit in future federal budgets.

The Arkansas Valley Conduit is the final component of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. Once constructed, the Conduit will deliver clean drinking water to families, producers and municipalities throughout Southeastern Colorado.

Bennet and Udall worked together to enact legislation in 2009 authorizing the construction of the Conduit, and have pushed ever since for funding to keep the project on schedule. The legislation also allows revenues from federal contracts to be applied to the cost of building the Conduit.

More Arkansas Valley Conduit coverage here and here.