Join Water Education Colorado on September 18 for a 5th anniversary, full-day tour of the 2013 flood-affected zone along the Front Range (to begin and end in Loveland). Jump on the bus with lawmakers, water managers, attorneys, engineers and members of the public to get an up-close look at various recovery projects. Participants will learn about the initial actions that were taken to protect lives and property as well as the subsequent projects that were undertaken to recover and build resilience. Read the draft agenda here, then hurry and reserve your spot today. Seats are limited!
The Colorado Water Trust began releasing 15 cubic feet per second of water into the river July 14. That’s about the equivalent of 15 soccer balls worth of water rolling by per second, said Zach Smith, an attorney at the Colorado Water Trust.
New funding sources have allowed the Water Trust to purchase more water and increase the releases to 25 cfs. The additional water brings the total acre-feet intended to be released into the river from 600 acre-feet to 1,800 acre-feet.
“That’s actually a huge help for the river,” said Kelly Romero-Heaney, water resources manager for the city of Steamboat Springs. “If we can get some additional flow to the river, that increases the available habitat for the aquatic life, in addition to helping to bring down the stream temperatures, so it’s really important given how dry and hot the summer has been.”
The boost could help the Yampa River meet criteria to re-open the river to recreation within city limits. The magic numbers to lift the voluntary closure are a flow consistently greater than 85 cfs at the Fifth Street Bridge and a water temperature below 75 degrees. Managers also consider the levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. Conditions in the Yampa don’t meet these criteria right now.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife has also instituted a voluntary closure of the river from Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area to the western edge of Steamboat. The agency recently lifted a second, mandatory fishing closure of the tailwaters of Stagecoach Reservoir.
The closures are intended to protect fish, riparian plants and other life that depends on the river. Trout are cold-water fish that have evolved to function best in water temperatures around 50 to 60 degrees, according to a Parks and Wildlife news release. When temperatures exceed 70 degrees, they often stop feeding and become more susceptible to disease.
“We’ve worked closely with partners up there, including Colorado Parks and Wildlife, to determine that this is an appropriate increase in flows and will create some real benefits for aquatic life and recreational users up there,” said Mickey O’Hara, a water resources engineer at the Colorado Water Trust. “It sounds like that reach below Stagecoach Reservoir, since it opened back up, has seen some significant use, and these flows should help fish especially through that region all the way down through the city.”
FromThe Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):
The Colorado River District has agreed to boost water levels to help fish in the Roaring Fork River watershed while also conserving water for use by local irrigators later in the season and improving the chances for boosting flows this fall for endangered fish.
The action also could help protect water quality in the case of anticipated ash in waterways due to expected flooding and debris flows resulting from the Lake Christine Fire near Basalt.
The river district is releasing water from Ruedi Reservoir above Basalt to boost flows in the Fryingpan River and Roaring Fork River to help reduce water temperatures to benefit trout. Low flows and warm temperatures in western Colorado have led to Colorado Parks and Wildlife urging anglers to avoid fishing later in the day on numerous western Colorado waterways due to the stress trout currently are facing.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation approved the river district releases last week. They are expected to range between 50 and 100 cubic feet per second.
River district spokesman Zane Kessler said the water to be released is owned and managed by the river district’s enterprise…
The water technically is being delivered downstream for Grand Valley irrigation needs but is creating environmental benefits on its way there. The water otherwise would have been delivered from Green Mountain Reservoir south of Kremmling.
Kessler said the Ruedi releases will allow for conserving a part of what’s called the historic users pool at Green Mountain Reservoir for use later in the season, which would benefit Grand Valley irrigators. The releases also increase the chances that, despite it being a dry year, that pool can be declared to have a surplus. That surplus could then be delivered in September and October to what’s known as the 15-Mile Reach, a stretch of the Colorado River in the Grand Valley where the flows would benefit endangered fish.
“This has never been done before,” Kessler said of the flow agreement. “But we’ve rarely seen river levels like this before either.”
The potential for easing the impacts of ash flow also could be felt in the Grand Valley. There is concern that ash flows could force the Clifton Water District to suspend use of Colorado River water. Area water providers have an agreement to help each other in meeting short-term water needs should that kind of emergency situation arise, but doing so this year would further deplete drought-stressed supplies.
Kessler said retaining some Green Mountain Reservoir water for release later in the year also could benefit recreational uses of the Upper Colorado River.
Meanwhile, the river district is taking another step aimed at helping ensure that benefiting fish in the Roaring Fork Valley doesn’t harm fish on the Colorado River upstream of the Roaring Fork confluence. The district is currently delivering what Kessler called “fish water” from Wolford Reservoir north of Kremmling into the upper Colorado River because it is having to lower the reservoir’s water level in preparation for doing some work on the dam there.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced that whitewater boaters and the fishery in the Arkansas River will get a late-season boost in river flow, effective Tuesday.
Colorado Springs Utilities has agreed to move 1,000 acre-feet of water from Twin Lakes Reservoir to Lake Pueblo in support of the Voluntary Flow Management Program (VFMP), according to a press release.
Springs Utilities’ water customers will not be impacted by the release because the water will be collected in the utility’s storage account in Lake Pueblo…
The transfer also will provide cool relief for trout, which have been struggling with unseasonably warm temperatures, Josh Nehring, senior aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Southeast Region, said.
“This water should help to reduce and stabilize water temperatures into mid-August,” Nehring said, noting it will help the trout survive until cooler weather arrives in a few weeks…
White said it a great example of what the voluntary flow program is all about – river partners managing their water requests to the benefit of everyone.
“Early in the summer, Pueblo Water released over 2,650 acre-feet of water in support of the VFMP,” White said. “Then the Bureau of Reclamation, in cooperation with the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, released 13,100 acre-feet of water. Now we are getting an additional 1,000 acre-feet of water from Colorado Springs Utilities.”
Parts of the globe are experiencing “one of the most intense heat events ever seen”, according to climate scientists.
Climate scientists are worried after several locations in the northern hemisphere saw record high temperatures over the past week.
Meteorologist Nick Humphrey said in a blog post that the extreme spell of hot weather amounted to “a true roasting”, writing: “It is absolutely incredible and really one of the most intense heat events I’ve ever seen for so far north.”
The mercury hit 30.1C in Castlederg in Northern Ireland on June 29 – a new record – while temperatures in Tbilisi, Georgia, and Yerevan, Armenia, rose this week to 40.5C and 42C respectively.
In the US, the Washington Post reports that heat in Denver, Colorado soared to an all-time high of 40.6C on June 28.
Guinness World Records has said that in the town of Quriyet, Oman, on June 26, the lowest temperature over the 24-hour period was a sweltering 42.6C – making a new record for highest “low”.
Deaths linked to a heat wave in Canada’s Quebec province reached 33 on Thursday, health officials said after the region’s largest city Montreal recorded its record high of 36.6C on July 2.
In the UK the heatwave pushed mean temperatures for last month up to 14.8C, making it provisionally the third warmest June since records began in 1910.
According to Humphrey, who interpreted a heat map from the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer, even northern Siberia “has been getting blowtorched” with maximum temperatures of above 32C.
Click here to use a celsius to fahrenheit calculator.