Western & Colorado Water Project Staff Notes

October 2007 

On the Road: We spoke at an American Groundwater Trust conference about TU’s interest in sound ground water management, made some new contacts and garnered some good press. We also attended the biennial Colorado River Symposium at Bishop’s Lodge in Santa Fe and talked about TU reconnect and restoration projects in the Basin, as well as had many productive conversations about climate change’s effects on trout and the energy-water nexus. Finally, we spoke to Light Hawk volunteer pilots at their annual Fly-In, held this year in Boulder, about the Western Water Project and the power of seeing the watersheds. 

Santa Fe River: While in Santa Fe, we spent time with the Director of the Santa Fe Watershed Association, toured the river, and made a presentation about river re-connect and restoration strategies used around the west at a forum the Association sponsored. The Santa Fe River was listed as the most endangered river in this year’s American Rivers report. The Association would like to partner with TU to bring this river, which used to support native Rio Grande cutts, but now is dry for months out of the year, back to life. 

Flow Mapping: Colorado’s mapping of environmentally and recreationally important stream reaches that need flow protection continues to inch forward. On a recent call, the steering committee set a state-wide meeting to explain and discuss the coarse and site-specific flow characterization models that we hope to use. 

Black Canyon: TU and the other parties to the Colorado water court proceedings to quantify the Black Canyon reserved water right are engaged in mediation. The court has stayed proceedings until middle of January to allow negotiations to continue. 

Colorado Headwaters Forum: We attended the Colorado Headwaters Forum in Silverton 

The Yampa: We spent the better part of a week surveying streams in the Yampa River Basin with Colorado Division of Wildlife staff in anticipation of bringing recommendations for instream flow rights to the CWCB. We are continuing to work with staff to advocate for Denver to release reasonable winter flows from the Williams Fork Reservoir. 

Temperature: We continue to collect, analyze and summarize stream temperature data in anticipation of the Colorado River Basin-wide hearings this winter. We are working to help improve the state’s model of expected stream temperatures. This model is being developed for the Aquatic Life Workgroup as part of their effort to delineate the expected conditions against which actual stream health is compared. We also assisted with a large scale sampling effort led, in large part, by the EPA in Peru Creek that is part of ongoing efforts to restore the stream and cleanup the ongoing impacts from acid mine drainage.

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