But, despite the successes and the coordinated efforts of federal and state agencies, upstream water users and environmental organizations, meeting minimum flow requirements in a chronically dry section of fish habitat remains a challenge, and stressors such as climate change, drought and nonnative predators are creating new hurdles for helping the fish recover.
Heimerich said they are projecting to reach the storage condition on Monday, June 19, which means they will start to ramp down diversions on Sunday, June 18.
Yet, despite a cleareyed recognition of the scale of the climate problem, Colorado water managers have done remarkably little when it comes to pushing for climate action on a main cause of water shortages: rising temperatures caused by humans burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas.
The Outstanding Waters designation can be awarded to streams with high water quality and exceptional recreational or ecological attributes, and the intent is to protect the water quality from future degradation.
It’s spring in the Rockies and that means rivers are cranking. Three water-related bills passed into law this session. Town of Meeker trustees grill new dam proponents.
The effort shows that upper-basin water managers are willing to do their part to prevent the system from crashing, but that part is small compared with the cuts they say are needed in the lower basin.
After amendments removed language referring to these projects, the bill now only includes minor stream-restoration activities such as bank stabilization or restructuring a channel to recover from wildfire or flood impacts.
Although there may not be imminent, specific threats of dams or diversions on the Crystal, Wild & Scenic proponents say that doesn’t mean there won’t be threats at some point.
Demand management has many skeptics, especially in western Colorado where some worry that temporarily compensating irrigators to use less could be a slippery slope toward “buy and dry,” stripping communities of their water.
With warmer temperatures this week, it’s likely that much of the Western Slope has already turned the corner, hitting peak snowpack and beginning to melt out.