2018 #COleg: Interim Water Resources Review Committee votes to carry the “Mussels-Free Colorado Act”

Quaggas on sandal at Lake Mead

From ColoradoPolitics.com (Marianne Goodland):

The program, authorized in 2008, has faced cutbacks in recent years just as mussels and their larvae are increasingly being found on boats entering Colorado reservoirs.

According to Doug Krieger, aquatic section manager for the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife (CPW), about a half million inspections are done every year at Colorado’s 80 reservoirs. The state was able to declare itself mussel-free in January, but that victory was short-lived, according to Krieger, when mussel larvae were detected in August at Green Mountain Reservoir in Summit County. Seven other Colorado reservoirs that previously detected mussel larvae have since been declared mussel-free, including Pueblo Reservoir, which had the worst problem in the state with mussel larvae between 2008 and 2011.

Unfortunately, the inspection program at Green Mountain has been cut back about 35 percent, Krieger told the committee, due to funding cuts. That means a shorter inspection season and shorter hours for those inspections. And that can lead to boaters who avoid inspections, whether putting in boats on private land around the reservoir or at the public ramps when inspections aren’t available.

At the same time, the discovery of mussel larvae at the reservoir means boats entering and exiting the reservoir are now subject to what Krieger called “high-risk” inspections and decontamination.

Green Mountain isn’t the only reservoir that has seen mussel activity; Krieger said there were seven other reservoirs this year with mussel detection.

Boats at state reservoirs are inspected and decontaminated, if necessary, at no charge, Krieger told Colorado Politics. Mussel larvae can attach itself to anything that gets wet, whether it’s the boat, anchors and anchor ropes, fishing gear, boat trailers or outboard or inboard engines. In one case, in southwestern Colorado, a boat came in heavily contaminated with mussels and their larvae, and it took weeks to completely decontaminate the boat, according to Doug Vilsack, the legislative liaison for the Department of Natural Resources. But because there’s no basis in law to recoup those costs, the boat owner was charged nothing for that decontamination.

The bill the committee decided to sponsor Tuesday would do two things: require boaters to obtain a stamp for their boats, and allow the division to recoup the costs of decontaminating boats that come in with mussels or their larvae.

The latest #ColoradoRiver District board meeting summary is hot off the presses @ColoradoWater

Bicycling the Colorado National Monument, Grand Valley in the distance via Colorado.com

Click here to read the summary. Here’s an excerpt:

Fallowing test project allocated CRD funds

In 2017, the Grand Valley Water Users Associa on (GVWUA) conducted a temporary agricultural fallowing program to save 3,200 acre feet of conserved consumptove use normally applied to crops. It was an experiment in water banking — to see how a program to send saved water to bolster Lake Powell might work.

GVWUA is extending the program to the 2018 growing season and received a $50,000 contribu on from the Colorado River District Board of Directors toward the program’s $1 million budget.

Mark Harris, GVWUA General Manager, told the Board that a second year is needed to con nue learning the lessons of fallowing and to broaden the knowledge of it among water users who are watching how this program might work for them.

Harris said that the Drought Contingency Plans (DCP) being developed by the Upper Division states and the Lower Division states to address low levels at Lakes Powell and Mead have put a “clearer focus” on demand management, which means reduced use by agricultural and municipal water users.

“The implications for the Colorado River District, its cons tuents and the GVWUA is that they will be majorly impacted” if demand management becomes necessary, Harris said. “We don’t need to do this for the Lower Basin’s benefit, we need to do this for our own benefit.”

Harris said that if West Slope interests don’t try to come up with a plan for how demand management might work, “others will be making those plans for us.” He said it was important to figure out how irrigators could par cipate in such a plan “in a way that does not ravage agriculture and does not ravage the West Slope.”

He said the 2018 program will keep the conversa ons about these issues moving forward and will advance the learning in economics, agronomics and the political implications.