Happy Summer Friends!

Life is surely full of challenges right now. I don’t think any of us could have expected we would spend our 2020 summer dealing with wildfires, drought, and such extreme heat on top of a pandemic.

The good news is – Colorado Water Trust is working hard and making some positive impacts on our environment across Colorado, just as we always do.

We wanted to share our successes with you so you can feel good about the important work that you make possible – boosting flows in rivers in need across our beautiful state.

Our latest updates:

Return flows from the Grand Valley Power Plant post-use August 2020 by Mickey O’Hara

Return flows from the Grand Valley Power Plant post-use August 2020 by Mickey O’Hara

1) The Colorado River’s 15-Mile Reach: For the second year, we purchased water from Ruedi Reservoir that flowed down the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork Rivers till it reached the Grand Valley Power Plant on the Colorado River. There, it will be used for hydropower production, and then released to boost flows in the 15-Mile Reach. This Reach is notorious for running low this time of year when it should be at healthy levels to support populations of four endangered, native fish that spawn and travel through the Reach. More about the project and the support of our partners here in an article in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

The Yampa River downtown Steamboat Springs July 2020 by Dana Dallavalle

The Yampa River downtown Steamboat Springs July 2020 by Dana Dallavalle

2) The Yampa River: We have been working on the Yampa River since 2012, and are once again purchasing water from Stagecoach Reservoir to boost flows in the River all the way through the City of Steamboat Springs. This water helps to keep the River’s temperatures cooler and healthier for fish and will hopefully mean that local recreation on the River can remain open. The local businesses that support tubing and fly-fishing on the Yampa can only operate when the River is at a certain level. When flows drop too low, the City of Steamboat Springs and Colorado Parks & Wildlife have to administer a closure. We are hoping local businesses have a good summer and fall season and we will continue to purchase water to help if needed. The project and the support of our partners is featured here in an article in the Steamboat Pilot.

3) The Roaring Fork River: In collaboration with the City of Aspen, we are supporting the City to reduce diversions by the Wheeler Ditch and boost flows in the Roaring Fork River as the river flows through town. This not only supports the river and the ecosystem in and around it, but it also supports local businesses that provide recreation opportunities on the river. The project is featured here in an article in the Aspen Daily News.

Headwaters of the Little Cimarron River April 2019 by Tony LaGreca

Headwaters of the Little Cimarron River April 2019 by Tony LaGreca

4) CSU Collaboration Study on Water Sharing with High Elevation Farms: We launched a major multiyear project in the Gunnison basin, on the Little Cimarron River, where we’ll be partnering with CSU, Trout Unlimited, and a ranch management company to study the impacts of split-season irrigation on a high elevation ranching operation. There are significant data gaps when it comes to sharing water between agriculture and rivers at higher elevations. How much does it cost a farmer? What happens to soil moisture? And what happens to production in years two, three, and beyond? We’ll be addressing these questions and publishing a Best Management Practices Guide for irrigators.

It is thanks to our many project partners and donors who make this work possible. If you’re reading this and you are one of them – know you are supporting Colorado’s environment in a critical time of need and we thank you!

Lastly…are you joining us for RiverBank? Support Colorado Water Trust during our big (virtual) event complete with a silent auction, competitions and prizes, and much more. Check out these details and get your free ticket today. It’s a really fun way to give back to the incredible beauty of Colorado’s natural environment. Hope to have you there!

Stay cool folks!
the Water Trust Team