Colorado River District funding program takes off with nearly $400,000 awarded to seven West Slope water projects

Projects benefit agricultural, municipal and recreational water users across Western Colorado 

From piping irrigation canals to monitoring water quality after wildfire, the Colorado River District’s Partnership Project Funding Program is making waves in updating water infrastructure, keeping clean water flowing to our communities and protecting river health. 

Since March, the Colorado River District has awarded a total of $399,575 to seven projects across the West Slope. These funds will assist water users in many ways: repairing a reservoir, studying how to cope with low river flow driven by drought, piping agricultural ditches and improving fish habitat.   

“These multi-benefit projects support and protect our water users – farmers and ranchers who need reliable irrigation water, communities whose drinking water supplies have been impacted by wildfire and those who enjoy casting a line in our streams,” said the Colorado River District’s Director of Strategic Partnerships, Amy Moyer. “We’re excited to see these projects and the Partnership Project Funding Program take shape to benefit West Slope communities.”  

Read on for more information about recently funded projects. More information about the Partnership Project Funding Program is available by clicking here.  

Fish Creek Reservoir #2 Repair and Conservation Project  
Gunnison County 
$154,134 in funds awarded 
This projecwill repair the dam and outlet works at Fish Creek Reservoir #2 located in Gunnison County with downstream benefits expected in Montrose County. With the repairs, the dam will again be able to store water for late-season agricultural irrigation. In its current condition, the reservoir cannot be filled due to dam safety restrictions. The reservoir owner, Cimarron Canal and Reservoir Company, and its partners will also restore what was once a productive trout fishery at the reservoir, enhancing recreational opportunities in the Gunnison Basin. Other partners in this project include the Bostwick Park Water Conservancy District and Trout Unlimited.  

Grizzly Creek Post Fire Water Quality Monitoring Project Phase 1  
Garfield County  
$50,000 in funds awarded    
This project will establish a new network of water quality monitoring equipment and data collection above the Roaring Fork Confluence on the Colorado River. This monitoring is urgently needed to understand conditions in the Colorado River and its tributaries as the watershed is expected to see increased sediment, debris flows and possible flood events in the upcoming runoff season. This monitoring effort will set the stage for long-term analysis of the effects of fire’s water quality impacts for downstream communities and agricultural producers.   

Yampa River Flow Pilot Project  
Moffat and Routt Counties 
$50,000 in funds awarded  
The Yampa River Flow Pilot Project will fund releases from Elkhead Reservoir this summer and collect data on those releases to understand their impact. Given this summer’s anticipated hot, dry conditions, the Yampa River is likely to experience another season of low flows and an increasing possibility for another call on the river. The project represents a collaborative effort to protect historic agricultural water users in the Yampa River Basin from the impacts of decreasing river flows amid warming average annual temperatures, while enhancing river flows for the endangered fish and recreational water users. Partners in the project include the Colorado River District, Colorado Water Trust, Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District and Tri-State Generation and Transmission. 

2021 Upper Gunnison River Restoration and Irrigation Improvement   
Gunnison County   
$47,241 in funds awarded    
This project will combine two irrigation diversions on the Gunnison River into a single point of diversion and restore a segment of the Upper Gunnison River. The improved infrastructure will allow water rights holders to divert water during both low and high flows. Additionally, a return structure will be constructed to return unused water to the Gunnison River and allow young kokanee salmon to return to the river.   

Grand Valley Irrigation Company Lateral Ditch ML47 Headgate and Ditch Piping Improvement  
Mesa County   
$38,200 in funds awarded   
This project will improve a headgate and ditch that diverts from the Grand Valley Irrigation Canal, repairing cracks in the ditch’s concrete lining and installing a pressurized system of pipes. These improvements will support the availability of water for agricultural and residential users and increase efficiency in the system by reducing water loss. The project is also expected to reduce the amount of salt flowing from the ditch into the Colorado River, which occurs when the ditch floods.  

Kendall Dam Rehabilitation   
Mesa County   
$35,000 in funds awarded   
This project funds the rehabilitation of the dam at Kendall Reservoir, also known as Kenney Creek Reservoir, which is jointly owned by the reservoir company and the U.S. Forest Service. The rehabilitation will improve the condition, safety and useful lifespan of the dam. This funding will support the first phase of improvements, including earthwork, brush cleanup and dam build-up. Ultimately, the rehabilitation will benefit agricultural users with a reliable water supply and provide outdoor recreation and angling opportunities on the reservoir.   

Blue River Integrated Water Management Plan Phase 2  
Summit County   
$25,000 in funds awarded    
In 2019, Trout Unlimited and the Blue River Watershed Group joined to develop a basin-wide integrated water management plan for the Blue River Basin to enable consumptive and non-consumptive water users to understand and quantify current and future use. Phase 2 of this management plan builds on progress made during Phase 1 by targeting several areas in need of more data and detailed analyses.    

To review the Colorado River District’s Board Documents related to the program, visit www.coloradoriverdistrict.org/quarterly-board-meetings 

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