Monitoring Water Use and Operations for the Short-Term Lease

The Colorado Water Trust’s short-term lease with Winter Park Ranch Water & Sanitation District was approved as a full season lease by the Division of Water Resources in early June. Instream flow use of Winter Park Ranch’s water rights began in early July. On behalf of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), our staff met with the District 51 Water Commissioner, Neal Misbach, to discuss operations and identify gaging requirements prior to implementing the lease. CWCB staff installed two staff gages in order to facilitate administration, and made several flow measurements on St. Louis Creek and the Fraser River to develop rating curves. Winter Park Ranch W&S District staff recorded weekly gage measurements and photographed the streams during the full period of lease operation. Again, the monsoons delivered quite a bit more moisture to the Fraser Valley than initially forecast, and the instream flow water right on St. Louis Creek remained fully satisfied throughout the summer. The instream flow right on the Fraser River, however, did experience a short term flow shortage in late July which benefited by this short-term lease.

In late November, DWR notified CWCB and CWT that the Shoshone call had come on the Colorado River triggering the need to provide replacement water for non-irrigation season depletions attributable to the lease. Through a prior arrangement, Winter Park Ranch W&S began releasing augmentation water from the Village Ponds to replace those depletions. Assuming the call remains on the river through the end of the year, the total amount of augmentation water released from the ponds for this lease will be 2.25 acre-feet.