#FraserRiver improvement project begins in #Granby #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Construction has begun for the Fraser River improvement project in Granby. The project will improve fish and sediment flows at the Granby Diversion Dam.
Courtesy Trout Unlimited via The Sky-Hi Daily News

From Colorado Trout Unlimited via The Sky-Hi Daily News:

A project designed to improve the Fraser River in Granby began construction Thursday.

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of November and the bridge across the Fraser River at Kaibab Park will be closed during the work.

The Granby Diversion Dam, which helps divert the town’s water supply and agricultural irrigation water, is an 80 foot wide, 3.5 foot high boulder structure that spans the Fraser River. At low flows, the dam is a barrier that prevents fish movement critical for a healthy fishery and blocks the movement of small non-motorized crafts that currently portage around it, according to a release from Trout Unlimited.

The project is the result of a partnership between Granby, Trout Unlimited and Grand County. Funds were contributed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and the Open Lands, Rivers and Trails Fund, with the Northern Colorado Water Conservation Board contributing most of the materials for the project and Colorado Parks and Wildlife providing assistance.

The goal of the project is to provide fish passage for trout and native species and for non-motorized boating recreation without interfering with water diversion for municipal and irrigation purposes. The project will also provide resilience for future flood events, facilitate natural stream processes like sediment transport and no rise in the 100 year floodplain.

This daagram shows fish passage from the proposed project on the Granby Diversion along Fraser River. Red represents fish passage during high flow and blue represents passage during low flow. Courtesy of Town of Granby via the Sky-Hi Daily News

#Boulder County’s review of proposed Gross Reservoir Expansion Project underway — The #Colorado Daily #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Gross Reservoir — The Gross Reservoir Expansion Project will raise the height of the existing dam by 131 feet, which will allow the capacity of the reservoir, pictured, to increase by 77,000 acre-feet. The additional water storage will help prevent future shortfalls during droughts and helps offset an imbalance in Denver Water’s collection system. With this project, Denver Water will provide water to current and future customers while providing environmental benefits to Colorado’s rivers and streams. Photo credit: Denver Water

From The Colorado Daily (Deborah Swearingen):

The Boulder County Community Planning and Permitting Department’s review of a planned expansion of Gross Reservoir in western Boulder County is underway, officials announced Thursday.

This is the latest in a years-long dispute between Boulder County and Denver Water, who owns and operates the reservoir and dam. A Boulder District Court judge in December 2019 affirmed the county’s right to require that Denver Water go through its 1041 land use review process in order to expand the reservoir…

“Denver Water put in a request to determine if the expansion project would be exempt from our land use code,” Boulder County spokesperson Richard Hackett said.

However, the water utility company in July dismissed that appeal soon after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted approval for Denver Water to continue with design and construction after the county told the company it would not conduct the review while the litigation was ongoing. The regulatory commission’s approval stipulates that project construction begin within two years. The project in 2017 received the other permit it needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers…

No public meetings or hearings have been scheduled yet, but the county will announce them to its Gross Reservoir Expansion Project news list. People who want to receive emailed or text messaged notifications can sign up at here. Hackett said the agencies reviewing the application have until Oct. 14 to return initial comments, although the county has the right to extend that deadline due to extenuating circumstances caused by the coronavirus.

In the meantime, community members can submit questions or written comments to grossreservoir@bouldercounty.org. There is no deadline for doing so. Comments will be accepted until the Boulder County Board of Commissioners makes a decision.

Denver Water’s collection system via the USACE EIS

#Drought continues to worsen west of [the Continental] Divide — Vail Daily #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

West Drought Monitor September 29, 2020. The most recent Colorado drought map shows a portion of Garfied, Mesa and Delta counties in “exceptional” drought, shown in the darkest shade. Eagle County, just east of the top portion of the darkest shade, is in “extreme” drought, along with the rest of the Western Slope.

From The Vail Daily (Scott N. Miller) via The Aspen Times:

Every square mile of Eagle County is in “extreme” drought. That’s the second-most severe classification. Portions of Garfield, Mesa and Delta counties are in the worst category, “exceptional” drought…

Erin Walter, a meteorologist at the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service, said a high-pressure system will move out of the area toward the end of this week. That movement, along with a low-pressure system moving in off the Pacific coast, will create a chance of precipitation starting Saturday and lasting into Oct. 12.

That’s about it, though. Weather forecasters don’t predict the weather with confidence more than about seven days in advance. But the climate prediction arm of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration is calling for a chance of warmer and drier than average conditions for most of the contiguous portion of the U.S…

Holly Loff, the director of the Eagle River Watershed Council, said the Eagle River below Gypsum was recently running at 150 cubic feet per second. Normal flow this time of year is 229 cubic feet per second. The Eagle River at Avon has been running at 58.6 cubic feet per second, 51% of normal.

“It’s scary right now,” Loff said. Loff lives along the river in Gypsum, and said she can see rocks in the middle of the stream that have never before been above water.

Autumn is usually a dry period, although this fall is much drier than normal.

Diane Johnson, the communications and public affairs officer for the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District, said that the agency just after Labor Day put out the word to its customers to start winterizing their irrigation systems…

A La Nina develops with cooler-than-average temperatures in that part of the Pacific. That tends to bring storms through the Pacific Northwest, and that generally benefits the northern Colorado Rockies. The Vail Valley tends to benefit from La Nina patterns, although that isn’t a sure thing…

Johnson noted that this year’s drought is just a continuation of a pattern that’s persisted for this century so far.

“We have a changing climate, and we’ve got more folks living here,” Johnson said. “And the outlook for winter isn’t great.”

Permit renewal sought for Grand Mesa cloud-seeding — The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Eric Hjermstad, field operations director, Western Weather Consultants, lights a cloud seeding generator north of Silverthorne, Colorado. Photo credit: Denver Water

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

The entity that operates a long-running cloud-seeding program aimed at boosting snowfall on Grand Mesa is seeking to have its state permit for the program renewed for 10 years.

The effort by the Water Enhancement Authority is one of a couple of permit renewal applications now before the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

Durango-based Western Weather Consultants is seeking a renewal of a program for Vail Corp.’s ski areas at Vail and Beaver Creek, and another permit renewal is being pursued in southwest Colorado.

Water Enhancement Authority proposes to continue conducting the Grand Mesa operation on behalf of entities including the city of Grand Junction, Grand Mesa Water Conservancy District, Grand Mesa Water Users Association, Ute Water Conservancy District, Powderhorn Ski Co. and Collbran Water Conservancy District.

Altogether, 16 organizations are involved, said Mark Ritterbush, the authority’s secretary and treasurer, during a recent online public hearing on the permit renewal conducted by the conservation board. Ritterbush also is water services manager for the city of Grand Junction.

The Grand Mesa program dates back decades, and irrigation companies originally pooled money to create it. It now targets some 320 square miles roughly above 8,000 feet in elevation.

Any of 13 manually operated seeders and five remotely operated ones can be used to send silver iodide particles skyward into storm clouds when factors such as wind direction and temperature are right, in an attempt to enhance snowfall as supercooled water attaches to the particles.

The Grand Mesa program estimates it has boosted snowfall by an average of 4% since 1990, and by 7% to 8% percent each of the last three years as it has improved its operations through measures such as more targeted seeding and more use of remote seeders. The remote devices can be located at higher elevations closer to clouds, making it easier to get silver iodide into those clouds.

The program estimates the amount of snowfall enhancement by comparing snowfall averages at Grand Mesa and non-seeded locations in the region to historic averages before Grand Mesa seeding began.

Ritterbush estimates that an 8% increase in snowpack on the Grand Mesa translates to about 2,000 additional acre-feet of water. An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons.

Based on the program budget, it’s costing about $7 an acre-foot for that additional water, which Ritterbush said doesn’t just help municipal water supplier and irrigators, but also helps the environment by boosting stream flows, and supports recreation activities such as skiing and rafting…

Altogether, there are eight cloud-seeding programs in Colorado. Funding comes from a variety of sources, including Front Range municipal water entities and from within states in the Colorado River’s Lower Basin.

Andrew Rickert with the Colorado Water Conservation Board said at the Grand Mesa program hearing that new funding is allowing for three new remote seeders to be installed in Colorado, including one on Grand Mesa if the permit there is renewed. Statewide, some 112 manual seeders and 13 remote stations are in use now.