Monitoring Water Use and Operations for the Short-Term Lease

The Stagecoach Reservoir/Yampa River short-term lease was approved by the Division of Water Resources (DWR) in 2012 for a one-year lease term per Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District’s request. In July 2013, our staff negotiated a second contract with the Upper Yampa District and paid to have up to 4,000 acre-feet of water released from Stagecoach Reservoir to benefit the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s (CWCB) instream flow right on the Yampa River. Due to low flows in the Yampa River and critically high water temperatures, CWT requested that Upper Yampa begin making early deliveries beginning in late-July, adding up to 30 cfs to the river. Although these early deliveries were made prior to DWR’s approval of the 2013 contract, and were therefore not legally protectable for instream flow use, the Upper Yampa District was able to generate hydropower, and the colder water improved stream temperatures.

The additional water provided to the Yampa River also alleviated significant shortages (up to 24 cfs) to the instream flow water right during the period of time that CWT was paying for reservoir releases even though the short-term lease had yet to be approved. CWCB staff received approval from DWR in August to operate the lease for instream flow use for a second one-year term. In coordination with CWCB and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, CWT requested continued deliveries from Stagecoach Reservoir in amounts ranging from 20 to 30 cfs through mid-September. The additional water provided to the Yampa River helped to improve water temperatures and satisfy the instream flow right located between Stagecoach and Catamount Reservoirs; without releases, the instream flow would have been shorted by up to 11 cfs.

Deliveries were suspended on September 12th due to increased precipitation and high streamflows. The total amount of water provided under the temporary instream flow lease this year was 2,818.7 AF. In accordance with provisions in the temporary lease statute, CWCB may only request approval of this lease for one additional lease term.