Excess water Grand County pumped into Lake Granby ready to flow into Colorado River
September 3, 2008
A water deal struck in June with the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District is paying off this fall, according to Grand County commissioners.
Grand County spent $57,500 for use of the Northern municipal subdistrict Windy Gap pumping facility in an effort to pump 1,500 acre-feet of water into Lake Granby to be used in 2008 only. The deal was considered a cooperative breakthrough with NCWCD.
Due to evaporative loss, or “shrinkage,” over the course of the summer that quantity of water has decreased to 1,350 acre-feet.
Timing is right to release that water into the Colorado River, county officials said at Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, since NCWCD releases dropped from 40 cubic-feet per second (cfs) to 20 cfs out of Granby Reservoir at the onset of September.
The water-release cutoff date Sept. 1 has been part of the Bureau’s annual operating plan since 1961, when flow levels were re-negotiated as part of Senate Document 80, the Congressional decree for the Colorado Big-Thompson Project.
The “free” water stored for Grand County this spring, which was excess water not owned by any entity after calls were satisfied, will be released at a rate of 25 cfs for 27 days this fall to promote river health. The county plans to hold off releases for about a week to compare the river’s condition before and after releases.
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Grand County fundamentally disagrees with the operating plan established in 1961, commissioners say, because today’s growth and river health are not taken into consideration.
“We do not believe (the formula from 1961) works. It can be improved upon,” said Commissioner James Newberry.
Commissioners also contend that during the original arrangement of operations, “Grand County was not included in that decision.”
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