Grand County water releases benefit Colorado River
September 20, 2009
This is the second year the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District allowed Grand County to pump unappropriated water at cost. With 451 acre-feet leftover from 2008, plus this year’s 3,028, the county has 3,479 acre-feet of water to release into the Colorado River.
According to the 1961 Operating Principles for the C-BT project, Granby Reservoir must release 75 cfs from May through July, measured at the “Y” gauge below the reservoir. On August 1 the flow drops to 40 cfs, and then on September 1 to 20 cfs. The water Grand County has in storage will allow the 20 cfs to be increased. While Grand County’s water is not for consumption, it elevates the water in the river for the benefit of the irrigators downstream of Windy Gap and provides better habitat for the fish. Data from the county Stream Management Plan shows that brown trout spawn in the Colorado below Granby Reservoir in October.
September 1-15, Grand County released an additional 45 cfs. From September 16 – 30, Grand County will reduce its release to 30 cfs. Releases will decrease to 20 cfs on October 1-15 and 10 cfs on October 16-30.
In March 2010, 321 acre-feet of county water will remain in Granby Reservoir, which is predicted to fill in spring. Depending on conditions, the commissioners may decide to release the remaining water.
The county paid Northern $72,000 in 2009 pumping costs. “We are pleased Northern has allowed us to pump again this year,” says County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran. “The relationship between Northern and the county has blossomed, allowing us to put unclaimed water to use to benefit Grand County.”