Late summer, flows in the 15-mile reach are often lower than what is recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for healthy fish habitat mainly because of two large upstream irrigation diversions: DeBeque Canyon’s Grand Valley Project, known as the Roller Dam, and Palisade’s Grand Valley Irrigation Canal.
Others agreed about the need to increase the River District’s revenue but expressed doubt a tax measure could pass in western Colorado’s more conservative counties, such as Mesa, Montrose and Delta, especially in a presidential election year with high turnout.
For more than 4½ years, state engineers have expressed concerns that the conservancy district has not proven there is a need for the water, which would be stored in the proposed White River reservoir and dam project between Rangely and Meeker.
The Gunnison sage-grouse disappeared from Pitkin County in the 1960s; in the 1990s, it was extirpated in Eagle and Garfield counties.
The head of the Colorado River District says any funding must be channeled through the Colorado Water Conservation Board to prevent speculation by private buyers.
The reason Yule Creek may have been spared from the spill is because it has been diverted from its natural channel to allow for expansion of the quarry.
To understand why some groups are opposed to even just a study whether storage is an option, it helps to review the contentious history of water development in the Crystal River Valley.
Aspen is now studying how much water from Castle and Maroon creeks it wants to store, and where it wants to store it.
If the county’s aquatic ecologist determines, in future years, that the additional water usage is having a negative effect on stream health, the county could limit Skico’s water use to historical levels — about 200 acre-feet a year.
The money will go toward funding projects that align with the goals outlined in the water plan, as well as toward meeting interstate obligations such as the Colorado River Compact.