Aspinall Unit Operations update: Streamflow in the Black Canyon ~515 cfs

From email from the Bureau of Reclamation (Ryan Christianson):

Releases from the Aspinall Unit will be decreased by 100 cfs at approximately 10am on Tuesday, September 3rd. Pursuant to the Aspinall Unit Operations Record of Decision (ROD), the baseflow target in the lower Gunnison River, as measured at the Whitewater gage, is 1050 cfs for September. This release decrease will allow for the recovery of storage in Crystal Reservoir that was utilized in response to upstream facility outages.

Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are approximately 1200 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 615 cfs. After this release change, the Gunnison Tunnel diversions will remain near 1200 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will be around 515 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.

Looking downstream from Chasm View, Painted Wall on right. Photo credit: NPS\Lisa Lynch

Monsoonal rains blocked in Southwest #Colorado — The Cortez Journal

From The Cortez Journal (Jim Mimiaga):

Monsoonal rains did not materialize much this summer in the Four Corners, and the El Niño weather phenomenon that favors a wetter than normal winter is also over.

“A more persistent high-pressure ridge than expected over the Four Corners is blocking the southerly monsoonal flows,” said Jim Andrus, a Cortez weather observer for the National Weather Service. “The dry spell will continue into next week.”

July and August were both below normal for precipitation for Cortez, he said.

July saw just .45 inches of rain, or 35 percent of the normal average of 1.28 inches. So far, August has seen just .57 inches of rain, or 39 percent of the normal 1.48 inches.

The lack of moisture has put southwest Colorado into the “abnormally dry” category on the U.S. Drought Monitor, the least severe of five drought levels.

West Drought Monitor August 27, 2019.

Year-to-date precipitation in Cortez is at 11.2 inches, or 144 percent of average, thanks to the above-average snowfall in late winter. But the high percentage continues to drop as the dry spell continues.

There is still a chance the Four Corners could get a shot of late season monsoon rains, Andrus said, if the high pressure ridge shifts to the east.

The September forecast hints at a chance for slightly above-average precipitation, said Jeff Colton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Services, as the early winter northwesterly storms drop our way.

Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last week that the El Niño weather pattern — a warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that contributed to the extra snowy Southwest winter — has ended.

It’s in a neutral pattern that is neither El Niño, or its opposite, La Niña, which is characterized by cooler Pacific temperatures with an atmospheric tendency to push winter storms toward the Northwest.

According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, there is a 55 percent chance the neutral pattern will continue through the winter, a 30 percent chance El Niño will return, and a 15 percent chance La Niña will form.

One World One Water Center: #Colorado Student Water Field Conference, September 20-22, 2019 @OWOW_MSUDenver

Big Thompson Watershed Coalition fundraiser, September 22, 2019

Big Thompson River near RMNP

From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

Coalition shifting focus to the future

Since the 2013 floods, the Big Thompson Watershed coalition has been leveraging grant money to rebuild and improve the river corridor, making it healthier and more resilient.

Now, the nonprofit is shifting its focus to resiliency for the future, to improvements that will prepare the community for future flood and fire impacts and to ensure long-term river health.

As part of that effort, the coalition is reaching out into the community to make new connections, holding a fundraiser with a goal of $50,000 and has a community bio-blitz planned…


The Big Thompson Watershed Coalition is a nonprofit that has been operating for five years on grant money and disaster-recovery funds available after the 2013 floods. Two full-time employees handle all the community outreach, grant searches and more behind the scenes for the grant-funded projects.

To help keep a staff of two going into the future and to meet the organization’s operations needs, the coalition has a fundraiser planned for Sunday, Sept. 22, at Sweetheart Winery.

The event, which costs $60 per ticket, will feature dinner, a live cellist, fly-fishing demonstrators, tours of an adjacent watershed project, an art auction and time to soak up the river…

The theme centers on “inspirations and aspirations” of the river, and the event gives people a first-hand look at one of the completed river projects. Speakers also will talk about watershed issues…

Tickets are available by making a donation online at or by contacting…

New connections

A major project for the watershed forum in the coming year is to create a plan for the Big Thompson River for 15 miles through Loveland with a $180,000 grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The coalition will lead a team looking at river health as well as the community’s needs and wants surrounding both recreation as well as responsible development along Colo. 402.

The coalition has launched an advisory committee that includes Loveland and Larimer County officials and likely will include ditch companies as well as members of the coalition board. They plan to reach out into the community for input on needs and desires and to consider a balance between those and river health.

The goal is to create a clear understanding of the river corridor and its many demands and to end with a prioritized list of specific projects that are feasible, could be funded with grants and achieve that balance, Gutman explained…

Community bio-blitz

The coalition is looking for 10 to 30 community members to participate in a bio-blitz, which is where groups fan out over different sections of the river at the same time and collect data on water quality, plants and bugs. The idea is to have a “flash understanding” of the ecosystem that morning, Sept. 28.

The Big Thompson Watershed Coalition will not be only agency participating. In fact, volunteers will be collecting data over three different watersheds in the region and then meet in Lyons to share ideas and to have a celebration.

The hope is that those residents, once taught to collect data, would be willing to volunteer with another piece of the coalition’s long-term goal — monitoring the success of completed projects…

Volunteers can sign up at or by emailing…

Big Thompson Watershed Coalition

Fundraiser: 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, at Sweetheart Winery, including music, art auction, tours of a project site, speakers, dinner and drinks. $60 per ticket, available by making a donation online at or by contacting

Bio-blitz: 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, different locations on the Big Thompson River. Volunteers can sign up at or by emailing