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Colorados Instream Flow Program at 40 Colorado Water Workshop July 18, 2013 Gunnison, Colorado

Mar 29, 2015



  • Slide 1

Colorados Instream Flow Program at 40 Colorado Water Workshop July 18, 2013 Gunnison, Colorado Slide 2 Since 1973, the CWCB has Appropriated instream flow water and natural lake level rights on close to 1,500 stream segments, covering 9,005 miles of stream, and 480 natural lakes Acquired Over 25 water right donations or long-term contracts for water totaling 500 cfs and 9,344 AF Slide 3 Miles of Stream Protected by ISF Rights in Colorado Note: 39, 479 miles of perennial streams in the state based upon the National Hydrography Dataset Slide 4 Slide 5 Slide 6 Role of ISF Program in Water Community Coordinate with federal agencies to address their resource protection goals through state-held water rights Work in partnership with water suppliers to enable water projects to move forward while providing protection of the natural environment Collaborate with conservation groups on protecting Colorados rivers and streams Slide 7 1980 Windy Gap Project ISF appropriations on the main stem of the Colorado River Protected flows downstream from Windy Gap Reservoir Integral part of Northern WCDs settlement with Middle Park water users Slide 8 1985 Summit County Agreements Series of agreements between CWCB and various Summit County entities Provided ISF protection on local streams (high quality fisheries on Blue River and tribs) Allowed certain levels of snowmaking diversions and water development in Summit County Provided basis for county and ski areas to meet NEPA requirements and secure GMR water service contracts from USBR Slide 9 1990 Boulder Creek Donation Donation Agreement between City of Boulder and CWCB Conveyed senior water rights to CWCB for ISF use in Boulder and North Boulder Creeks Donated rights supplemented decreed ISFs that are junior to several irrigation rights City relied on agreement in discussions with USFS Helped satisfy federal requirements related to Citys municipal diversions on Boulder Creek Slide 10 1992 15 Mile Reach ISF USFWS recommendation to maintain and enhance Colorado pikeminnow habitat and contribute to sufficient progress under the Recovery Program Seasonal ISF of 581 cfs July September (reduced from FWS recommendation of 700-1,200 cfs) Slide 11 1996 Dead Horse Creek and Hanging Lake Cooperative effort between USFS and CWCB supported by local stakeholders ISF for all unappropriated flow based upon unique hydrologic and geologic natural environment of watershed, including Bridal Veil Falls and Hanging Lake (NLL water right on lake) Bird species (black swifts) and riparian vegetation cited as part of unique natural envt Slide 12 BLM recommendation: ALL of the annually available flow, with an allowance for additional water development on private and federal lands above the Wilderness Area. Very different from typical ISF appropriation Aspects of natural environment preserved Flow amounts Development allowance 2010 -- Wilderness Area ISFs on Big Dominguez and Little Dominguez Creeks Slide 13 Purpose: to conserve and protect for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations the water resources of area streams, based on seasonally available flows, which are necessary to support aquatic, riparian and terrestrial species and communities. Language from Act establishing Wilderness Area CWCB to appropriate ISF water rights to support wilderness management purposes in lieu of a federal water right. Coordination among River District, Wilderness Society, BLM, CPW and CWCB on legislation. Slide 14 speckled dace (Rhinichthys osculus) rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) roundtail chub (Gila robusta) Macro-invertebrates Above average abundance and diversity Ephmeroptera (Mayfly) Plecoptera (Stonefly) Coleoptera (Water beetles) Diptera (true flies) Slide 15 Slide 16 CWT Request for Water Program Colorado Water Trust solicited offers of water for temporary leases for ISF use in April 2012 Partnered with CWCB staff to process leases Temporary leases: Limited to ISF use for a period of 120 days 3 years of use over a 10 year period Can be used on any stream where CWCB currently holds an ISF water right, up to decreed amount No water court change case State and Division Engineer can approve ISF use if no injury to other water rights Team in place to evaluate offers and do necessary legal and technical analyses to request approval of leases from DWR CWT and CWCB staff workedon proposed leases Slide 17 CWT Request for Water Program In 2012, program resulted in four lease agreements that benefitted ISFs on: Yampa River Deep Creek Colorado River White River (agreement with CPW for releases from Big Beaver Reservoir) In 2013: Lease agreement benefitting ISFs on St. Louis Creek and the Fraser River Working on a temporary lease in Gunnison Basin Slide 18 Permanent Water Acquisitions for ISF Use Carbon Lake Ditch (Mineral Creek and Big Horn Gulch) Peabody Ditch (Moser) (Boulder Creek and Blue River) Stapleton Brothers Ditch Maroon Creek and RF River (pending in water court) Slide 19 ISF water rights as a tool in developing alternatives to Wild & Scenic designation ISF water rights can provide permanent protection of flow-related Outstandingly Remarkable Values (ORVs) through a decreed water right administered within Colorados priority system As part of an alternative management plan accepted by feds, ISFs could eliminate potential for a federal water right on the subject stream reach. Slide 20 Examples of flow-related ORVs that ISF water rights can help protect Fish and recreational fishing ISFs can preserve or improve habitat of warm water or cold water fish species and their food sources Wildlife (otters, bald eagles) Benefit these species by protecting fish habitat and maintaining healthy streams s Riparian vegetation Slide 21 Upper Colorado River Stakeholders Group Goal: Create a river management plan alternative for BLM and USFS to consider as part of planning process Participants: local governments, water users, environmental and recreation interests, landowners, state agencies (CWCB, CPW, DWR) Plan includes measures to track status of ORVs (recreational fishing and boating) ISFs for base flow a key element of Plan BLM chose Plan as preferred alternative in draft EIS Slide 22 3 ISF Reaches on the Colorado River Blue River to Piney River Piney River to Cabin Creek Cabin Creek to just u/s of Eagle River Stakeholder group developed ISF recommendations for base flows on each reach. CWCB appropriated and applied to water court for the ISFs in 2011; decreed in 2013. Higher flows may be achieved through voluntary cooperative arrangements, potentially through the ISF water acquisition program. Slide 23 Colorado Water Plan Governor has directed us to incorporate values identified by the BRTs into the CWP, including: A strong environment that includes healthy watershed, rivers and streams, and wildlife ISF Programs role: Work with BRTs and other stakeholders on nonconsumptive projects to protect environmental and recreational attributes Seek opportunities to collaborate on multi-use projects Protect environment Assist in enabling projects to move forward Slide 24 Slide 25 Questions?