November 1, 2014, was an historic day! Terrace Reservoir began releasing the 162 acre-feet of water that they had stored for Alamosa Riverkeeper (ARK) and Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) this past summer. These are the first water rights that have been used in CWCB’s Instream Flow Program to bolster flows in the Alamosa River. For several years, this public-private partnership between CWCB and ARK has joined forces to improve the water quality and ecological functionality of the river. Because the release began the day after the irrigation season ended, the 7-8 cfs of instream flow was the only water coming out of the reservoir’s outlet during the 10-day release period.
How did we help? This project is an example of when the Water Trust was not the lead organization, but chipped in to support the primary groups in achieving environmental benefits for the river. We bring a variety of resources to protect and restore Colorado’s streamflow, including our expertise. Since 2008, we have served as technical consultant to ARK on water rights and instream flow issues as they work to alleviate degraded conditions in the Alamosa River watershed in the San Luis Valley. In addition to extending the season of flows in the Alamosa River as they did in 2014, future releases will supplement a 16-mile stretch of the river during periods of low flow to support the fishery and aquatic environment, improve riparian health, keep the streambed wet to limit loss of irrigation water, and recharge aquifers.