Steve Paul: Let’s not forget about the other purposes of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project
I read with great interest and concern Eric Wilkinson’s Aug. 12 article in the Ski-Hi News about minimizing flooding.
While we are very appreciative of Northern and the Bureau’s efforts to minimize flooding, he raises fear and angst by publicly stating just TWO PURPOSES for the Colorado-Big Thompson (C-BT) system when it is clearly stated in Senate Document 80 (see attached) that there are FIVE PURPOSES.
It is reminiscent of the first 50-plus years of C-BT operations when those two were the purposes that were attended to. However, those who framed SD 80 clearly understood that once the folks on the East Slope got the water that was being given to them, they would soon forget from whence it came and the consequences thereof. While the framers did not comprehend the unintended consequences of going against Mother Nature by pumping water backwards through a natural lake – Grand Lake – they did make provisions for the preservation of the scenic attractions of Grand Lake, the Colorado River, and the Rocky Mountain National Park in the second of the five primary purposes.
While I’m confident it was merely a “slip of the tongue” comment, it is important, as we move forward in our cooperative efforts, to keep all five purposes at the front of our public and private comments.
Now that the Appraisal Study is under way, I want to thank Northern and Grand County again for the financial support of the study as well as the Bureau of Reclamation for its oversight support.
This is a critical step in support of our stated goal of finding a less harmful means of moving the water from the West Slope to the East Slope as well as restoring and then preserving the scenic beauty of Grand Lake.
I hope Northern and its staff will take time to come up and see how beautiful the lake is this summer absent C-BT pumping combined with a positive flow of water from Grand Lake into Shadow Mountain Reservoir and then into Lake Granby – the natural flow.
Recent secchi measurements documented more than 23 feet of clarity in Grand Lake, and it is a joy to see little children swimming in the lake without their parents fear of an algae bloom. Only their grandparents, or those over 70, have any recollection of the lake ever being this clear. It is truly amazing how quickly Grand Lake has recovered and it has done so with only partial natural flow.
It is, I think, quite possible that the pre-C-BT clarity of 30 feet could be restored if the water was moved through a pipe or tunnel versus the current back flow system.
President, Greater Grand Lake Shoreline Association
Senate Document 80 excerpt
Manner of Operation of Project Facilities and Auxiliary Features
The construction and operation of this project will change the regimen of the Colorado River below Granby Reservoir. The project contemplates the maximum conservation and use of the waters of the Colorado River and, and involves all of the construction features heretofore listed. In addition thereto certain supplemental construction will be necessary. This will be for the primary purpose of preserving insofar as possible the rights and interests dependent on the water, which exist on both slopes of the Continental Divide in Colorado. The project, therefore, must be operated in such a manner as to most nearly effect the following primary purposes:
1. To preserve the vested and future rights to irrigation.
2. To preserve the fishing and recreational facilities and the scenic attractions of Grand Lake, the Colorado River, and the Rocky Mountain National Park.
3. To preserve the present surface elevations of the water in Grand Lake and to prevent a variation in these elevations greater than their normal fluctuation.
4. To so conserve and make use of these waters for irrigation, power, industrial development, and other purposes, as to create the greatest benefits.
5. To maintain conditions of river flow for the benefit of domestic and sanitary uses of this water.
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