From The Vail Daily (John LaConte):
On Thursday, representatives from Trout Unlimited, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Eagle River Watershed Council, the Town of Gypsum, the Buckhorn Valley Metropolitan District and Scott Green Excavating raised a toast to the completion of a pipeline from the creek which replaces a more than 100-year old ditch…The more than $1 million project hinges on the fish screen and the data collection station. If water levels aren’t recording properly, Buckhorn Valley won’t know when they’re able to divert, as they’ve agreed to take water only when stream levels are above 1.25 cubic feet per second.
That agreement saw some referee action in water court, said attorney Steve Bushong, who helped the metro district obtain a judge’s decree which confirmed that the project can go forward without impacting the metro district’s water rights. The decree came through in November after a slight holdup from the city of Aurora, which diverts water out of Eagle County to the Front Range via Homestake Reservoir.
“Aurora stipulated out of that case; they just asked for some kind of no precedent language, which we were able to work out and include,” Bushong said…
Another complicated part of the project is the diversion point itself — if it doesn’t allow fish to pass through safely from both sides, the whole project will have been in vain.
Designed by hydraulic/fish passage engineer Brent Mefford, the Abrams Creek fish screen benefits from Mefford’s many years of research with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation studying screen layout, orientation to channel flow, debris management and use of isolation gates.
“Having a fish person design a screen, they understand fish behavior,” said Kendall Bakich with Colorado Parks & Wildlife. “The way this screen is designed, it allows the fish to swim on the screen if it gets in there.”
On Thursday, members of Colorado Parks & Wildlife witnessed the fish screen working properly from both directions.
“Within 10 minutes (of arriving at the site) we had a fish in here,” Bakich said while examining the fish screen on Thursday. “It worked just like it should.”
Learn more about the project at tu.org.