Fraser accepts a drop of water from a family overwatering their lawn in Denver. From the Colorado Trout Unlimited “Defend the Colorado” campaign. Click for full video.
Fraser is Happy !
Last fall a big greenback was seen hiking along the highway from Winter Park to Denver looking for his water. It seems a major water company had been diverting his home water to grow Kentucky Bluegrass lawns. In interviews Fraser seemed confused by how and why this was happening and set out for Denver to track down his water.
Fraser’s looking for his home water.
Hiding under the conference table Fraser heard some good news. Denver Water, TU, Grand County, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado River District, and Middle Park Water Conservation District had reached an agreement on Feb. 13, 2014 that would actually improve his habitat over what it is now. All they need is Army Corps of Engineers approval expected in early 2015 to get started on it. Here’s what he heard:
High water temperature will be monitored at Tabernash, Fraser, and below Windy Gap Reservoir. When the temperature gets high than 70F in the Fraser River or above 74.8 in the Colorado, Denver Water will give back 250 acre-feet of water at up to 4 cubic feet a second to bring it back down. If after 20 years of “learning by doing” this doesn’t work, then Denver Water will contribute $1 million dollars to design and construct project for the sole purpose of addressing these temperature problems.
Flushing flows for a minimum of 72 hours to improve channel stability and transport sediment will be provided by Denver Water 3 out of every 10 years. Flushing flows committed to are 80 cfs (cubic feet per second) in the Fraser, 70 cfs in St Louis Creek, 50 cfs in Vasquez Creek, and 40 cvs in Ranch Creek. If after 20 years this doesn’t work, Denver Water will contribute $1 million for projects to address channel stability and sediment transport.
Fraser, the wandering greenback cutthroat is particularly happy that Denver Water will be funding a $72,500 barrier to restore cutthroats in a CPW selected headwater stream. Denver Water is already collaborating with the USFS, ACE, USFWS, and CPW to protect the greenback cutthroat trout with an eye to expanding habitat on the Williams Fork and St. Louis Creek.
Fish Habitat restoration projects using $750,000 from a Denver Water escrow account will be used to compensate for reduced flows caused by the Gross Reservoir Expansion (named the Moffat Project for some reason.) See the interview with Stoney, the homeless Denver South Platte Stonefly, in the March 2014 DTU Drift, to understand how changing a stream channel can actually make a river trout habitat better when the flows are reduced.
Stream conditions, water temperature, channel stability, sediment transport, macro invertebrates, riparian areas and wetlands will all be studied to provide a baseline for action should problems occur during the construction or operation of the Gross Reservoir Expansion Project.
Development of an annual plan to coordinate operations of diversion structures and reservoir releases to maximize the effectiveness of temperature, channel stability, habitat restoration, and cutthroat restoration.
Denver Water and Norther Water will contribute $6 million for Habitat Improvement in the 17 miles of Colorado River from Windy gap to the confluence with the Williams Fork River.
Denver Water will provide $1 million for flow related projects to protect wild and scenic river values.
Denver Water will turn over 1.25% of West Slope Fund surcharges to be dedicated to reforestation and aquatic improvements in Grand County.
After the project is operational in 2021, $2 million for environmental enhancements, and $1 million for pumping water from Windy Gap to Grandby Reservoir for subsequent release to the Colorado below Grandby. Denver Water will dedicate 1,000 acre-ft each year from the Fraser Collection System and 1,000 acre-ft from the Williams Fork Reservoir to be used for instream minimum flow and aquatic habitat improvement.
Denver Water commits to by-pass and additional 2-3,000 acre-feet of water from diversion as required by USFS and Bureau of Land Management, unless it has implemented a ban on residential lawn watering.
(Read the details for yourself. I’ve translated this from legalese and may have made some untoward assumptions. .ed)
TU Press Release:
Fraser is going to stick around in Denver until the Corps of Engineers approves this mitigation and Enhancement Coordination Plan and Denver Water gets its permit to expand the Gross Reservoir. Then as the work on the project starts he’ll return home to keep an eye on and enjoy the improvements being made. He’s one happy greenback.
Don’t Suck the Upper Colorado Dry – Photo by Cory Stansbury