From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
The Arkansas River is rumbling a little higher through Pueblo this week as water released from Pueblo Dam makes its way to John Martin Reservoir.
About 5,000 acre-feet (1.6 billion gallons) is being released under leases made by Colorado Springs Utilities and the Pueblo Board of Water Works.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is leasing 2,000 acre-feet from Utilities and 1,000 acre-feet from Pueblo Water to boost levels at John Martin State Park.
“This is really exciting news, and we are thrilled to be able to provide additional water this year,” said Brett Ackerman, deputy regional manager for CPW. “Years of drought have really taken a toll on John Martin Reservoir and protecting this exceptional fishery has been tough at times. This will really help out a lot.”
The water will increase the permanent pool at John Martin as a safety net for the fishery.
Another 2,000 acre-feet are being moved to benefit the Lower Arkansas Water Management Association, which provides replacement water for irrigation wells below John Martin Dam.
“The plan is to be done by March 30,” said Water Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte.
The extra water in the river — flows were 640 cubic feet per second Monday, compared with 330 cfs a week earlier — is not having a big impact on the Arkansas River levee project.
“The aqua dam is holding up. We’re doing fine,” said Rick Kidd, manager and engineer for the Pueblo Conservancy District that is overseeing the levee reconstruction.
Heavy equipment work on the levee needs to be done during months when the river is at lower levels. The first phase of construction should be completed by the end of the month.
The release of water also will help lower Lake Pueblo levels to allow for flood storage by the May 1 deadline.
From the Prowers Journal (Russ Baldwin):
The additional water will increase the permanent pool at John Martin Reservoir to approximately 4,000 acre feet resulting in a safety net for the fishery, as well as more room on the water for boating, water skiing and angling. The water was purchased by Colorado Parks and Wildlife from Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo Board of Water Works and is currently in transit from Pueblo Reservoir.
“The weather this year was a huge help with regard to overall water levels,” said Ackerman. “But protecting the permanent pool would not have been possible without the help and cooperation of Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo Board of Water Works as well as the support of our sportsmen and anglers.”
More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.