December 15, 2022

For more information, contact:

Kate Ryan
Colorado Water Trust
Phone: 720-570-2897
Email: kryan@coloradowatertrust.org

Rick Lofaro
Roaring Fork Conservancy
Phone: 970-927-1290
Email: rick@roaringfork.org

Brendon Langenhuizen
Colorado River Water Conservation District
Phone: 970-930-4171
Email: blangenhuizen@crwcd.org

Rob Viehl
Colorado Water Conservation Board
Phone: 303-866-3441 x3237
Email: rob.viehl@state.co.us

Local and state-wide groups join forces to boost winter flow in the Fryingpan River

Basalt, Co., (December 15, 2022) – Colorado Water Trust and Roaring Fork Conservancy have teamed up with the Colorado River Water Conservation District (Colorado River District) and the Colorado Water Conservation Board to purchase and release water from Ruedi Reservoir to mitigate the impacts of anchor ice on the Fryingpan River. On Friday, December 16th, the first release of water from Ruedi Reservoir will begin. The project aims to release 1.26 billion gallons of water (or 3,866 acre-feet) between December 15, 2022, and March 1, 2023, to the Fryingpan River, maintaining flows around 65 cubic-feet-per-second (cfs) in order to diminish ice buildup.

Anchor ice is a natural occurrence, but can have serious consequences on the hydrology of the river and the health of the ecosystem within. When there are low flows in the river during the cold winter months, large amounts of anchor ice can form on the bottom of the river, negatively impacting fish and macroinvertebrate function and diversity. Maintaining minimum winter flows between 60 to 70 cfs increases ecological resilience in the river through mitigating the formation of the anchor ice, and improving recovery from previous anchor ice impacts.

The partners will monitor the flow levels in the Fryingpan River, water temperature, air temperature, and anchor ice presence, from December through March. Anchor ice survey results will be compared to previous two years to continue to observe trends and build a long-term data set. “Roaring Fork Conservancy’s unique anchor ice monitoring program will allow us to objectively document anchor ice over time. This allows us to continue to promote management of Ruedi Reservoir with local benefits in mind” says Rick Lofaro, Executive Director of Roaring Fork Conservancy.

The benefits of this project are many: not only will this project improve the Fryingpan River ecosystem, it also demonstrates successful collaboration for protecting Colorado’s rivers. This project brings together local and statewide environmental nonprofits, as well as local and state government entities, united in the effort to improve the health of the Fryingpan River. The Colorado River District has provided support through its Community Funding Partnership, a grant program which was approved by western Colorado voters as part of ballot question 7A in November 2020. These grants are designed to act as the funding catalyst for a wide variety of water projects which are priorities for West Slope residents by generating matching funds from state, federal, and private sources. The Colorado Water Conservation Board provided approximately 50% of the funding for this project through its water acquisition fund.

Kate Ryan, Director of Programs for the Colorado Water Trust says that the Colorado River District and the Roaring Fork Conservancy “inspired partners to make a big difference for the health of the Fryingpan River. We’re so pleased to be able to work with local, regional, state and even corporate partners to add water to the Fryingpan when it needs supplemental flows to sustain its environmental health.” Additional funding partners include the Roaring Fork Conservancy, Intel Corporation through the Colorado Water Trust, Pitkin County through its Healthy Rivers Fund (pending BOCC approval in January), the City of Aspen, the Town of Basalt and the Roaring Fork Fly Fishing Guide Alliance.

 

ABOUT COLORADO WATER TRUST: Colorado Water Trust is a statewide nonprofit organization that works collaboratively with partners all across Colorado on restoring flow to Colorado’s rivers in need using solutions that benefit both the people we work with and our rivers. Since 2001, we’ve restored over 20 billion gallons of water to rivers and streams across the state.

ABOUT ROARING FORK CONSERVANCY: Since 1996, Roaring Fork Conservancy has inspired people to explore, value, and protect the Roaring Fork Watershed. We bring people together to protect our rivers and work hard to keep water in local streams, monitor water quality, and preserve riparian habitat. As one of the largest watershed organizations in Colorado, Roaring Fork Conservancy serves residents and visitors throughout the Roaring Fork Valley through school and community-based Watershed Education programs and Watershed Science and Policy Projects including regional watershed planning, water resource policy initiatives, stream management, and restoration.

ABOUT THE COLORADO RIVER DISTRICT: The Colorado River District’s mission is to lead in the protection, conservation, use, and development of the water resources of the Colorado River water basin for the welfare of the District, and to safeguard for Colorado all waters of the Colorado River to which the state is entitled.