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CWCB Leases Water at Nominal Price to Meet Streamflow Objectives for Endangered Fish

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (“CWCB”) has entered into a short-term lease agreement with the Ute Water Conservancy District (“UWCD”) to acquire between 6,000 and 12,000 AF of water from Ruedi Reservoir.

UWCD has a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation (“Reclamation”) for 12,000 AF per year from Ruedi Reservoir, which the district uses as an augmentation source to back up its water supply from Plateau Creek. Since this supplemental source is not needed immediately, the district is able to lease it.

CWCB is acquiring the water for instream flow purposes in the 15-Mile Reach of the Colorado River, which runs from the confluence with the Gunnison River to the Grand Valley Irrigation Company diversion dam and is critical habitat for four endangered species of fish. This lease comes in addition to water already being diverted from Ruedi Reservoir via the Colorado River District’s Endangered Fish Recovery Program. The objective is to meet the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (“USFWS”) flow targets to improve the habitat of these endangered species, and will also help in non-consumptive hydroelectric generation just above the Reach.  Delivery of the water will continue through April 30, 2016.

CWCB is paying for the stored water with funds from Colorado’s Species Conservation Trust Fund. The price is $7.20/AF—with a cap of $86,400—which covers the Bureau of Reclamation’s operation and maintenance charges, plus 10% for administrative costs.

Leased water will be measured at the point it is released from Ruedi Reservoir, and payments for releases will occur on a monthly basis.  CWCB will only be responsible for payment for water that is actually released from Ruedi Reservoir under the terms of this agreement.  Leased water released from the Reservoir may be diverted via the Grand Valley Project Diversion Dam, transported in Grand Valley Project facilities, run through the Grand Valley Power Plant to produce hydroelectric power, and finally discharged through the tailrace of the Grand Valley Power Plant to the Colorado River.  The leased water will not be checked back up the Colorado River using the Orchard Mesa Check structure, and will only flow directly to the Colorado River near the upstream terminus of the 15-mile Reach after it is used to produce hydroelectric power.

When water is available, the CWCB will coordinate with USFWS and Reclamation on releases of the leased water at the weekly Green Mountain Historic Users Pool phone call.  CWCB is responsible for coordinating with USFWS for requesting the releases.  During this time, UWCD is entitled to make arrangements or enter into contracts with other water authorities in the region for diversion, delivery, and use of the leased water.


Written by Stratecon Staff