May 4th, 2017
This newsletter is a project of the Gunnison Basin Roundtable to serve all water stakeholders in the basin. Since we all depend on water, that means everyone! The newsletter operates in conjunction with the GunnisonRiverBasin.Org website, which is still under construction but already has some good information. Please send your feedback on the newsletter and the website, as well as announcements of events you would like to have featured in future newsletters, to [email protected].
COLORADO REACHES A SECOND PEAK AFTER A WARM SPELL
After a very dry start to the winter, the snowpack in the mountains of the Gunnison Basin started piling up in December and hit a first peak in early March, about a month earlier than average. Unseasonably warm temperatures brought significant melting, but storms at the end of March increased accumulations again, at least at higher elevations.
You can see how the season has progressed on this graph from the Natural Resources Conservation Service: https://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/ftpref/data/water/wcs/basinsweplots/co/basinplotgun17.gif? .
The Upper Colorado Basin snowpack, ultimately destined to flow towards Lake Powell, has followed a similar path, as this graph shows:
RELEASES FROM BLUE MESA FOR FISH, BLACK CANYON
According to an April 28 update from the Bureau of Reclamation, the forecast of 850,000 acre-feet of runoff volume into Blue Mesa Reservoir was on course for the water year to be classified “Moderately Wet” if that forecast stayed the same on May 1, which it did.
You can see the update at https://www.usbr.gov/uc/wcao/water/rsvrs/notice/asp_rel.html and forecast information at https://www.cbrfc.noaa.gov/rmap/wsup/point.php?rfc=cbrfc&id=BMDC2 .
Under the operational criteria to benefit endangered fish in the lower river, the Moderately Wet year peak flow target for the Whitewater Gauge just upstream from Grand Junction is 14,350 cubic feet/ second (cfs) with a duration of 10 days. Under the same criteria, the target for half bankfull flow of 8,070 cfs is 40 days.
The peak flow target to fulfill the water right for Black Canyon National Park is 6,427 cfs for a duration of 24 hours, with a “shoulder flow” target of 831 cfs for the period between May 1 and July 25.
The Bureau of Reclamation attempts to time peak releases for the Black Canyon to match peak runoff from the North Fork of the Gunnison River in order to meet the Whitewater targets without releasing more water than necessary from the Aspinall Unit. You can learn more about the Aspinall Unit reservoirs and their operating guidelines here:
PROGRESS ON IRRIGATION EFFICIENCY – THE LOWER GUNNISON PROJECT (LGP)
Progress continues to be made on the Lower Gunnison Irrigation Efficiency Project, with significant consultation, planning and engineer work well underway and several construction projects slated to begin later this year. You can find details in the latest Project Update here, along with background information on the project:
UPCOMING WATER EVENTS IN THE GUNNISON BASON
Mesa County State of the River Meeting, May 15, Grand Junction, CO. Details here: http://www.coloradoriverdistrict.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/2017-mesa-state-of-the-river-flyer.jpg
San Juan Mining and Reclamation Conference, May 24 – 26, Ouray. Details here: http://www.mountainstudies.org/sjmrc
Gunnison State of the River meeting, May 31, Montrose. Details here: http://www.coloradoriverdistrict.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/2017-gunnison-state-of-the-river-flyer.jpg
North Fork Float Trip and River Festival, June 3, Paonia. Details here: http://westernslopeconservation.org/events-outings/
Gunnison Basin Roundtable meeting, June 5, Montrose. Details here: http://cwcb.state.co.us/water-management/basin-roundtables/Pages/GunnisonBasinRoundtable.aspx
Gunnison River Teacher Institute, June 19-23, Gunnison. Details here: http://www.western.edu/gunnison-river-teacher-institute
Colorado Water Workshop, June 21-23, Gunnison. Details here: http://www.western.edu/academics/undergraduate/environment-sustainability/conferences/colorado-water-workshop
Gunnison River Festival, June 22-25, Gunnison. Details here: https://ridgwayriverfest.org/
Ridgway Riverfest, June 24, Ridgway. Details here: https://ridgwayriverfest.org/