Colorado River District Statement on Upper Colorado River Basin Contingency Planning Documents 

October 9, 2018 

Upper Colorado River Commissioner, James Eklund, along with staff from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office and Colorado Water Conservation Board, hosted a webinar this morning to present, for the first time, draft documents outlining the framework of Drought Contingency Plans for the Upper Colorado River Basin states.

Andy Mueller, General Manager for the Colorado River District, issued the statement below following the webinar and subsequent posting of the draft plans for public review:

“I want to thank Commissioner James Eklund, First Assistant Attorney General Karen Kwon and Colorado Water Conservation Board Director Rebecca Mitchell for bringing Colorado’s water community together for a review of Drought Contingency Planning (DCP) efforts today. I appreciated their making the draft DCP documents available for public review.”

“The Colorado Water Conservation Board also deserves thanks for directing an outreach program on these important but controversial water management issues in the coming weeks. We applaud the recent direction from the Board requesting the CWCB staff to draft and present a proposed policy to guide the CWCB in the coming efforts to develop a Demand Management Program. We continue to encourage the Board to make sure that any Demand Management Program in the state of Colorado is voluntary, compensated, temporary and that water for such a program comes from conservation measures on both sides of the Continental Divide.”

“These Plans will undoubtedly shape the ways we use water here on Colorado’s West Slope, and they should require coordinated conservation efforts on both sides of the Continental Divide to protect water uses tied to the Colorado River.”

“We look forward to being part of this important conversation going forward.”

 

Colorado River District Opposes Amendment 74 and Proposition 112

Garfield County Commissioners Join West Slope Municipalities to Provide Water from Ruedi Reservoir for Environmental and Agricultural Needs Downstream 

October 8, 2018 

The Colorado River District’s Board of Directors is opposing two statewide initiatives that will appear on the Colorado ballot this November. At a special meeting held in September, the Board voted unanimously to oppose Amendment 74 and Proposition 112.

The Board of Directors, which represents 15 western Colorado counties covering nearly one- third of the entire state, moved to oppose the initiatives due, in large part, to the direct negative impacts that both would have on West Slope water management efforts.

In final resolutions released this week, the River District’s Board described Proposition 112 as an “overly-aggressive proposal creating a de facto statewide ban on oil and gas production” that would “devastate the state’s economy and cripple state and local government budgets including the Colorado River District’s.”

Proposition 112, they argued, would also significantly reduce state severance tax revenues that support water projects and programs statewide – including important environmental, conservation and water quality programs administered by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

In their resolution opposing Amendment 74, the Board of Directors described the proposed constitutional amendment as “ill-advised, poorly constructed and fraught with unintended consequences harmful to Colorado’s waters and water users.”

The Directors were unanimous in their concerns with Amendment 74. Their Resolution specifically points to concerns that “the risk and expense associated with Amendment 74 would predictably result in the State of Colorado losing state authority to implement the federal Clean Water Act to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with attendant adverse impacts to Colorado’s streams, rivers and water users.

Resolution to Oppose Amendment 74
Resolution to Oppose Proposition 11

 

West Slope Local Governments Join Forces to Boost River Flows 

Garfield County Commissioners Join West Slope Municipalities to Provide Water from Ruedi Reservoir for Environmental and Agricultural Needs Downstream 

October 2, 2018 

Garfield County has joined the Towns of Carbondale and Palisade, the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District, and the City of Aspen in a collective effort to contribute more than 1,500 total acre feet of unscheduled “contract water” held in Ruedi Reservoir for agricultural and environmental needs a long the lower Roaring Fork River and farther downstream on the Colorado River.

The Colorado River District was first approached by the Town of Carbondale with an offer to provide some of the Town’s unused, uncommitted water in Ruedi Reservoir for downstream needs. The River District then approached other local governments with unused reserves in Ruedi to join in the effort. The table below outlines the total contributions by individual governments taking part in the most recent contributions.

“When it comes to drought, we’re all in this together” said Jay Harrington, Carbondale’s Town Manager. “We recognized there were multiple needs downstream that weren’t being met and we wanted to do what we could to help.”

The unusual and generous move by local governments in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River Basins follows previous efforts this dry summer that utilized reserves in Ruedi Reservoir to satisfy downstream irrigation needs known as the “Cameo Call,” a suite of historic agricultural water rights near palisade in the Grand Valley.

The Colorado River District and Ute Water Conservancy District previously contributed a combined total of 8,000 acre feet from late July into September. Those contributions were used to substitute water that would have typically come from Green Mountain Reservoir’s “Historic Users Pool” (HUP) to satisfy the Cameo Call. But the HUP was depleted far earlier than usual due to extremely dry conditions in western Colorado last year.

XTO, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, followed suit in September with 5,000 acre feet of Ruedi releases to provide water for endangered fish species in what is known as the Critical 15-Mile Reach between Palisade and the Colorado River’s confluence with the Gunnison River.

“2018 was a horrible water year for all of us on the West Slope” said John Currier, Chief Engineer for the Glenwood Springs-based Colorado River District. “This is a good example of folks from both ends of the basin coming together to assist their neighbors and the environment.”

Governmental Entity and Water Contribution: 
Town of Carbondale – 250 Acre Feet
Town of Palisade – 162 Acre Feet
Snowmass Water and Sanitation – 400 Acre Feet
City of Aspen – 400 Acre Feet
Garfield County – 350 Acre Feet

For more information please contact: Jim Pokrandt  970.319.1807 or Zane Kessler  970.989.4156


River District Protests Newest Filing for Green River Pipeline Rights

District Argues Aaron Million’s Newest Development Proposal is Speculative in Nature, Would Negatively Impact Colorado’s Compact Entitlements

April 9, 2018

The Colorado River Water Conservation District has submitted a formal protest to an application for a trans-mountain diversion water right permit filed by Aaron Million and Water Horse Resources, LLC.

Million filed for the permit with Utah’s Division of Water Rights for the project, which is proposed to divert 55,000 acre-feet of water per year from the Green River near the Colorado state line. The Green River water would then be piped roughly 500 miles north and east through Wyoming, then south to Colorado’s Front Range.

The River District has opposed past diversion proposals by Million, who previously attempted to secure Green River rights for a controversial project that would have pumped water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir, or a point upstream in Wyoming, to Colorado’s Eastern Slope.

“This new application suffers from many of the same problems as his previous proposals but presents a number of new problems and interstate legal issues as well.” said Peter Fleming, General Counsel for the Colorado River District.

The River District’s protest points out that the application is speculative, and that “no specific beneficial use or need has been identified for the project other than a general reference to future water demands in Colorado.”

“This is a clear case of water speculation.” said Andy Mueller, General Manager of the Colorado River District. “Development of this resource in this manner would not only harm existing Western Slope water users but would impact the ability of the River District and the State of Colorado to plan for and develop future water resources as well.”

According to the District’s objection, “the application is vague and lacks sufficient detail to form the basis of a recognized water right, particularly given the large volume of water claimed and the complex legal and accounting problems raised by the application. The application should be denied on this basis alone.”

Utah’s Board of Water Resources and Division of Water Resources have also submitted objections to the proposal. Those objections urge that the application be denied for a variety of reasons, many similar to those raised by the River District.

“This new application suffers from many of the same problems as his previous proposals but presents a number of new problems and interstate legal issues as well.” said Peter Fleming, General Counsel for the Colorado River District.     

 

The April 19, 2016 announcement below is an update to our October 8, 2015 Press ReleaseNormal ops to resume at Wolford dam
April 19, 2016

The Colorado River District has found that there is no compelling safety reason to proceed with remediation of Ritschard Dam at Wolford Mountain Reservoir in Grand County, now or in the foreseeable future.

This conclusion comes after exhaustive study of the settlement and a failure-risk assessment of the rock-fill, clay-core dam put into service in 1995. The River District’s consulting engineers and a separate Consultant Review Board it commissioned, together with the State of Colorado Dam Safety Branch, have concluded that the dam remains safe.

The River District will fill the reservoir this spring, reversing a two-year self-imposed restriction limiting the reservoir to within 10 feet of full as a cautionary measure.

Multi-million dollar rehab project planned for Ritschard Dam

October 8, 2015
A massive rehabilitation project is being planned for Ritschard Dam, the earthen dam that holds back water from Wolford Mountain Reservoir, just north of Kremmling. Jim Pokrandt, communications specialist for the Colorado River Water Conservation District, owners of Ritschard Dam, confirmed the project Tuesday. Pokrandt said the project is still in the design analysis stage and no official decisions have been made yet regarding specifics but said, “We are on a pathway to rehab the dam. Right now we are in the design analysis stage. We don’t have a final design on what the work will look like.”

Renovation Solutions for Ritschard Dam at Wolford Mountain Reservoir to be Developed This Year to Address Materials Settlement

February 18, 2015
The Colorado River District owns and operates the Ritschard Dam that forms Wolford Mountain Reservoir near Kremmling in Grand County, Colorado. It is a clay-core, rock-fill dam that has experienced settling beyond the amounts normally expected by engineers for a dam of this type. The dam is safe and will continue to be safe in the future, according to the District’s engineering staff.

Colorado River District Awarded $8 Million Federal Grant for Lower Gunnison River Basin 

January 15, 2015
The Lower Gunnison River Basin is the target for $8 million in new grant funding to improve irrigation practices, water quality, agricultural productivity and environmental conditions. The Colorado River District is the lead partner in the grant-funded project that includes a total of 31 partnering entities. Dave Kanzer, Senior Water Resources Engineer for the District, said the grant stems from the 2015 Farm Bill initiative called the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that identified the Colorado River system as a “Critical Conservation Area,” one of eight in the country.

Colorado River and Southwestern Water Conservation Districts Discuss Drought

September 18, 2014
The two Water Conservation Districts that comprise the entire Colorado River basin in Colorado adopted implementation principles concerning how the current, extended drought conditions are addressed on the Colorado River’s storage system.

Colorado River District praises Governor’s Veto of SB023

June 6, 2014
The Colorado River District applauds Governor Hickenlooper’s decision on June 5 to veto Senate Bill 14-023. As noted in the Governor’s veto message, we are certain it was a close and difficult decision. The River District, along with many other parties, requested a veto.

Colorado River District & West Divide Water Conservancy District Approve Settlement in Crystal River Water Rights 

June 26, 2014
The Colorado River District yesterday joined the West Divide Water Conservancy District in approving a settlement ending litigation regarding water rights in the Crystal River. Both the River District and West Divide are pleased to avoid the costs of litigation as well as the inevitable animosity with their mutual constituents over protecting water rights for present and future use in the Crystal River valley.

Agreement Reached on Water Rights Call on Shoshone Hydro Plant

April 2, 2013
Two back-to-back, drought-plagued winters in Western Colorado have triggered an agreement to “relax” a senior water rights call on the Colorado River at the Shoshone Hydro Plant to allow water providers to store more water this spring, a move that benefits Denver Water and the West Slope.

River District to Decrease Reservoir Levels for Drought and Monitoring

August 22, 2012
The Colorado River District, which owns and operates Wolford Mountain Reservoir, will take advantage of this year’s drought and resulting low reservoir water levels to further monitor movement at Ritschard Dam. As with all earthen dams, Ritschard Dam was expected to settle over time. However, over its 16-year life, the dam has settled nearly two-feet, rather than the estimated one-foot. This year’s dry conditions require drawing the reservoir down lower than most years in order to meet contractual and environmental demands for the stored water.

Colorado River District Praises Colorado River Water Supply & Demand Study as a call to Action

December 12, 2012
The Colorado River District commends the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study released today to the public as a thorough and detailed call to action for Colorado River stakeholders to address a gap between human and environmental demands on the river system and the amount of water it produces annually.

Update to October 8, 2015 Press Release

Normal ops to resume at Wolford dam
April 19, 2016

The Colorado River District has found that there is no compelling safety reason to proceed with remediation of Ritschard Dam at Wolford Mountain Reservoir in Grand County, now or in the foreseeable future.

This conclusion comes after exhaustive study of the settlement and a failure-risk assessment of the rock-fill, clay-core dam put into service in 1995. The River District’s consulting engineers and a separate Consultant Review Board it commissioned, together with the State of Colorado Dam Safety Branch, have concluded that the dam remains safe.

The River District will fill the reservoir this spring, reversing a two-year self-imposed restriction limiting the reservoir to within 10 feet of full as a cautionary measure.

These developments come after six years and more than $1.5 million worth of study and the installation of sophisticated instrumentation to analyze the dam’s settlement. This study and monitoring was instigated by observations of settlement, a normal expectation in such a dam, beyond what designers had contemplated.

Throughout this time, the Dam Safety Branch of the Colorado Division of Water Resources has been thoroughly kept up to date on all investigations. The River District will continue its intensive monitoring of the dam and continued collaboration with state dam safety officials and other interested parties. The River District has been transparent and public with its study of the dam and had told the public that repairs could range from minimal to in excess of $30 million, but the overriding intent was that the settlement would be dealt with in a safe, prudent and responsible manner.

A breakthrough in understanding the risks associated with the on-going settlement came earlier this year when the River District conducted a formal Risk Analysis Workshop.

The conclusion was that the risk of a settlement-related dam failure was far lower than the estimated one-in-one-million risk of dam failure from a catastrophic flood that would overtop the dam. A one-in-one-million risk of failure represents extreme caution and a normally accepted assessment of risk common to all modern dams. The risk of a settlement-related dam failure was estimated at one-in-one-hundred-million, far lower than the flood risk.

Going forward, the River District will continue to work with the Dam Safety Branch, our engineering firm AECOM and the Consultant Review Board. Plans are to install more instrumentation and to establish a long-term monitoring plan, while preparing for the possibility that remediation may be necessary at a future point in time.

Multi-million dollar rehab project planned for Ritschard Dam

October 8, 2015
A massive rehabilitation project is being planned for Ritschard Dam, the earthen dam that holds back water from Wolford Mountain Reservoir, just north of Kremmling. Jim Pokrandt, communications specialist for the Colorado River Water Conservation District, owners of Ritschard Dam, confirmed the project Tuesday. Pokrandt said the project is still in the design analysis stage and no official decisions have been made yet regarding specifics but said, “We are on a pathway to rehab the dam. Right now we are in the design analysis stage. We don’t have a final design on what the work will look like.”

Renovation Solutions for Ritschard Dam at Wolford Mountain Reservoir to be Developed This Year to Address Materials Settlement

February 18, 2015
The Colorado River District owns and operates the Ritschard Dam that forms Wolford Mountain Reservoir near Kremmling in Grand County, Colorado. It is a clay-core, rock-fill dam that has experienced settling beyond the amounts normally expected by engineers for a dam of this type. The dam is safe and will continue to be safe in the future, according to the District’s engineering staff.

Colorado River District Awarded $8 Million Federal Grant for Lower Gunnison River Basin 

January 15, 2015
The Lower Gunnison River Basin is the target for $8 million in new grant funding to improve irrigation practices, water quality, agricultural productivity and environmental conditions. The Colorado River District is the lead partner in the grant-funded project that includes a total of 31 partnering entities. Dave Kanzer, Senior Water Resources Engineer for the District, said the grant stems from the 2015 Farm Bill initiative called the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that identified the Colorado River system as a “Critical Conservation Area,” one of eight in the country.

Colorado River and Southwestern Water Conservation Districts Discuss Drought

September 18, 2014
The two Water Conservation Districts that comprise the entire Colorado River basin in Colorado adopted implementation principles concerning how the current, extended drought conditions are addressed on the Colorado River’s storage system.

Colorado River District praises Governor’s Veto of SB023

June 6, 2014
The Colorado River District applauds Governor Hickenlooper’s decision on June 5 to veto Senate Bill 14-023. As noted in the Governor’s veto message, we are certain it was a close and difficult decision. The River District, along with many other parties, requested a veto.

Colorado River District & West Divide Water Conservancy District Approve Settlement in Crystal River Water Rights 

June 26, 2014
The Colorado River District yesterday joined the West Divide Water Conservancy District in approving a settlement ending litigation regarding water rights in the Crystal River. Both the River District and West Divide are pleased to avoid the costs of litigation as well as the inevitable animosity with their mutual constituents over protecting water rights for present and future use in the Crystal River valley.

Agreement Reached on Water Rights Call on Shoshone Hydro Plant

April 2, 2013
Two back-to-back, drought-plagued winters in Western Colorado have triggered an agreement to “relax” a senior water rights call on the Colorado River at the Shoshone Hydro Plant to allow water providers to store more water this spring, a move that benefits Denver Water and the West Slope.

River District to Decrease Reservoir Levels for Drought and Monitoring

August 22, 2012
The Colorado River District, which owns and operates Wolford Mountain Reservoir, will take advantage of this year’s drought and resulting low reservoir water levels to further monitor movement at Ritschard Dam. As with all earthen dams, Ritschard Dam was expected to settle over time. However, over its 16-year life, the dam has settled nearly two-feet, rather than the estimated one-foot. This year’s dry conditions require drawing the reservoir down lower than most years in order to meet contractual and environmental demands for the stored water.

Colorado River District Praises Colorado River Water Supply & Demand Study as a call to Action

December 12, 2012
The Colorado River District commends the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study released today to the public as a thorough and detailed call to action for Colorado River stakeholders to address a gap between human and environmental demands on the river system and the amount of water it produces annually.

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