Project Active

2022 – Present

Fryingpan River – Anchor Ice Project

This reservoir release project restores winter flows to the Fryingpan River to mitigate the formation of anchor ice.


Through 2022, the Anchor Ice project has restored

billion gallons


of water to the Fryingpan River.

Tools Used:

Reservoir releases from Reudi Reservoir to the Fryingpan River.

Project Partners:

Colorado River District, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Roaring Fork Conservancy

Project Years:


Project Story: 

The Fryingpan River in December of 2022 – by Molly Briggs, Aspen Daily News

Colorado Water Trust and Roaring Fork Conservancy have teamed up with the Colorado River Water Conservation 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.

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 are monitoring 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.

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.


  • Photo Credits: Molly Briggs, Aspen Daily News