Crystal River Project
Partners Roaring Fork Conservancy and Public Counsel of the Rockies hired Lotic Hydrological to develop an ecological model to assess the Crystal River’s health and examine four alternative water management strategies, including non-diversion agreements. After seeing the recommendations and evaluating which would be most feasible to implement, the Water Trust combined Lotic’s conclusions and flow targets with water user feedback on types of arrangements that might work to develop a flow restoration strategy based on non-diversion agreements with water users upstream of the Carbondale Ditch. When implemented, this strategy would provide water for the Crystal River in drier years.
Bill Fales and Marj Perry of Cold Mountain Ranch have agreed to pilot the first agreement for a three-year term. The agreement pays the ranchers to shift the timing of the ranchers’ diversions to leave some water in the Crystal River when it needs the water most. The agreement will be closely monitored to determine compliance and benefit.
The pilot agreement with Cold Mountain Ranch is the first step towards integrating the needs of the Crystal River in the complex decision-making process that agricultural water users engage in every day to manage their water and operations.
The Water Trust’s project will compensate water users to reduce diversions during periods of low flow in the Crystal, and will encourage collaboration among water users through a flow target incentive payment. Each participant that reduces diversions will be compensated for their reductions, and if the community can collectively add enough water to the river to meet the flow target, each participant will receive additional compensation for each day that the flow target is maintained in the river. While the water conserved by the Crystal River Project will not be enrolled in the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s instream flow program, it will benefit their instream flow water right on the Crystal River, and will help ensure a healthier Crystal River for years to come.
- Photos: Zach Smith, Colorado Water Trust, Bill Hoblitzell, Lotic Hydrological
- Project Partners: Roaring Fork Conservancy, Public Counsel of the Rockies, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Lotic Hydrological, Cold Mountain Ranch, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, and Pitkin County
Sopris Sun, July 27, 2022, by Olivia Emmer
On Tuesday, July 19, the town of Carbondale trustees held a work session on water. Mayor Ben Bohmfalk wanted to know...
Aspen Journalism, July 9, 2022
Agreement will pay Cold Mountain Ranch to leave water in the river
A Crystal River Valley rancher and a nonprofit organization are teaming up...
For more information, contact:
Alyson Meyer Gould
Colorado Water Trust
Cold Mountain Ranch
Carbondale, Co., (July 5, 2022) –...
Carbondale, Co., (January 23, 2018) – Cold Mountain Ranch and the Colorado Water Trust finalized a pilot agreement intended to increase streamflows in the Crystal River in drier years. The...