From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

The dim outlook for the Yampa River in this summer of drought just got a little brighter, thanks to a water deal announced this week by the Colorado Water Trust, the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District and the Colorado Water Conservation Board…

Under a law passed back in 2003 in response to the last serious statewide drought, the water trust will lease 4,000 acre feet of water stored in Stagecoach Reservoir to try and sustain some flows in the Yampa, in the worst-case scenario potentially preventing the river from going dry.

The water will be released strategically to meet hydropower demands and for streamflow benefits below the reservoir. The water trust has been working on the short-term water leasing pilot program, Request for Water 2012, for about three months…

The water trust will lease the Yampa River water for about $35 per acre foot, for a total of $140,000…

“When we saw the CWT Request for Water 2012, we thought it would be a great opportunity for collaboration in meeting multiple needs during this drought year, and the Upper Yampa Board is fully supportive of meeting multiple needs,” said district manager Kevin McBride.

From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

Two water agencies and a conservation organization have engineered a lease allowing 4,000-acre feet of cold water from Stagecoach Reservoir to be gradually released in an effort to revive the river.

The Colorado Water Trust announced Monday it had reached an agreement with the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, which owns the reservoir, and the Colorado Water Conservation Board to lease the water and send it downstream.

“We’ll start making releases when we can ensure it will supply the benefit we hope it will,” Colorado Water Trust staff attorney Zach Smith said.

His organization will spend $35 per acre-foot to lease the water from Stagecoach, or about $140,000, Smith confirmed. The agreement marks the first-ever implementation of a 2003 statute designed to protect Colorado’s rivers in times of drought.

If the Trust were to release the water steadily, it is estimated it would generate a flow of about 26.5 cubic feet per second from July 1 through the middle of September — perhaps not enough to restore recreation in the form of tubing on the town stretch of the river, but enough to protect the resource. The Yampa was flowing at 69 cfs late Monday afternoon compared to a median flow for the date of 1,000 cfs.

Coyote Gulch
John Orr
Original article