Every year, a few weeks before Halloween, the Uncompahgre River seems to blossom with slimy, bubbling growths in areas of the lowest flow. This substance is green algae, decaying and releasing bubbles that are often trapped by iron deposits. Though the algae appears more prominently and abundantly in this season, it’s actually present in the river – even in high flow areas – year round. This fall, the slime may be more noticeable due to more pronounced bubbles caused by the unusually warm temperatures.
While this algae is a typical condition of many river systems and streams, it suffocates macroinvertebrates. According to Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership board member and River Watch volunteer Dudley Case, River Watch experts explained that the zinc in the Uncompahgre River negatively effects both fish and macroinvertebrates, and the slime clogs up areas where they might nest and reproduce.
“Macroinvertebrates are a food source for fish, so the less macroinvertebrates, the less fish. Since the slime is so endemic in the river, reducing the slime safely would be a useful project,” said Case.
Observing and reporting on these types of water issues is one of the goals of the Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership (UWP) as we monitor watershed conditions and communicate with stakeholders. We are reviewing our Watershed Plan this winter so we can make updates related to project and study results from recent years. We hope you will contribute your observations and ideas about priorities to the review and update process. Please feel free to contact us anytime with your thoughts, and we will be back in touch with you to collect input in the coming months, too.
From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):
Releases from Crystal Dam will be decreased from 1500 cfs to 600 cfs on Tuesday, November 1st. This reduction will follow the shutdown of diversions to the Gunnison Tunnel. Release reductions will be coordinated with Gunnison Tunnel diversion reductions throughout the morning of November 1st. River flows downstream may fluctuate during the shutdown period but flows should steady out at the current level by the afternoon. The current content of Blue Mesa Reservoir is 610,000 acre-feet which is 73% full.
Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently above the baseflow target of 1050 cfs. Flows are expected to remain above the baseflow target for the foreseeable future.
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 November through December.
Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are around 900 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 600 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will be at zero and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon should still be around 600 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.
From The Montrose Press:
John Stulp, special advisor to the Governor and director of the Inter Basin Compact Committee for the State of Colorado, will speak at the Uncompahgre Valley Water Forum Sept. 1.
The event will be held at the Montrose County Fairgrounds in Friendship Hall 6:30-9 p.m. Stulp’s presentation will be focused on what the State Water Plan says about agricultural water.
He will address the extent to which everyone is a recipient of the benefits that ag. water provides – not just the foods and fibers grown and raised that require water, but also important community amenities, like city parks, soccer fields and cemeteries which often depend on ag. water to keep grass growing and green.
Shavano Conservation District is hosting the Uncompahgre Valley Water Forum to create a medium for landowners to be aware of ideas and views on local and state agricultural water.
Other speakers at the Forum include Marc Catlin, who is the Water Development coordinator for Montrose County, sits on the Colorado River Water Conservation Board,and also on the Gunnison Basin Roundtable.
Dick Wolfe, state engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources; Steve Anderson, manager of the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association; and MaryLou Smith from the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University, will also be on hand.
Those planning to attend should RSVP by Aug. 29 to either Bert at 970-249-8407, ext. 115, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From email from Reclamation (Eric Knight):
The next Aspinall Operations meeting will be held this Thursday, August 18th at the Elk Creek Visitor Center at Blue Mesa Reservoir. Start time is 1 PM.
From The Montrose Daily Press:
Montrose City Council will consider the 182-page document at its regular meeting Tuesday evening.
Public comment will be accepted and following the hearing, a resolution to adopt the plan may be considered.
Drawing the plan began shortly after the Colorado Water Conservation Board determined each public entity distributing 2,000 acre-feet per year or more of water to encourage efficient use of water, according to city documents provided in Tuesday’s council agenda packet.
In the document, the city spells out how the plan will be implemented, monitored, reviewed and revised over the next seven years. It also estimates how much water will be conserved by implementing the plan.
“The goal of the City of Montrose Water Conservation Plan is to increase the efficient use of water throughout the city by identifying challenges and methods for overcoming each,” an executive summary of the plan says…
A complete copy of the plan is available at http://www.cityofmontrose.org/300/Water.
From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):
Releases from Crystal Dam will be increased from 1850 cfs to 2000 cfs on Friday, July 15th. Flows in the lower Gunnison River have been dropping quickly over the last week and are now just under the baseflow target. This increase is intended to raise flows in the lower Gunnison River as well as manage the reservoir content to reach the end of year winter target elevation. The current April-July runoff forecast is now at 91% of average. The current content of Blue Mesa Reservoir is 796,000 acre-feet which is 96% full.
Flows in the lower Gunnison River are currently below the baseflow target of 1500 cfs. This increase should restore flows to a level at or above the baseflow target.
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 1500 cfs for July.
Currently, diversions into the Gunnison Tunnel are around 1050 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon are around 850 cfs. After this release change Gunnison Tunnel diversions will still be at 1050 cfs and flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon should be around 1000 cfs. Flows in the river may be less than 1000 cfs if the maximum capacity of the Crystal powerplant proves to be less than 2000 cfs. Current flow information is obtained from provisional data that may undergo revision subsequent to review.
From email from Reclamation (Erik Knight):
The May 1st forecast for the April – July unregulated inflow volume to Blue Mesa Reservoir is 525,000 acre-feet. This is 78% of the 30 year average. Based on the May 1st forecast, the Black Canyon Water Right and Aspinall Unit ROD peak flow targets are listed below:
Black Canyon Water Right
The peak flow target will be equal to 3,349 cfs for a duration of 24 hours.
The shoulder flow target will be 300 cfs, for the period between May 1 and July 25.
Aspinall Unit Operations ROD
The year type is currently classified as Average Dry
The peak flow target will be 8,070 cfs and the duration target at this flow will be 10 days.
Pursuant to the Aspinall Unit Operations ROD, releases from the Aspinall Unit will be made in an attempt to match the peak flow of the North Fork of the Gunnison River to maximize the potential of meeting the desired peak at the Whitewater gage, while simultaneously meeting the Black Canyon Water Right peak flow amount. The latest forecast for flows on the North Fork of the Gunnison River shows a peak of around 2,000 cfs occurring this weekend. This peak is followed by a couple days of lower flows and then higher flows are expected to return by the next weekend. If the forecast for flows on the North Fork of the Gunnison River continues to show a rise, the start of the ramp up towards the peak release may begin next week.
It is expected that the ramp up to the peak release will take 8 days. The current projection for spring peak operations shows flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon in the 5,000 to 5,500 cfs range for 10 days in order to achieve the desired peak flow and duration at Whitewater. If actual flows on the North Fork of the Gunnison River are less than currently projected, flows through the Black Canyon could be even higher.
With this runoff forecast and corresponding downstream targets, Blue Mesa Reservoir is currently projected to fill to an elevation of around 7499.0 feet with an approximate peak content of 654,000 acre-feet.