The Fryingpan River downstream from Ruedi Reservoir
Over the years, RWAPA has been a reasonable but persistent advocate for the economic, environmental and recreational interests of the Roaring Fork, Fryingpan and Crystal Rivers. RWAPA consults regularly with the Colorado River Water Conservation District, the Bureau of Reclamation and other agencies on local and regional water policy. RWAPA is a partner in local, regional and national water management studies and planning efforts. RWAPA participates in discussions regarding Ruedi management, trans-mountain diversion operations and local water developments. Since its founding, RWAPA's interests have expanded to include water quality and quantity issues, including the 208 Water Quality Plan, riverbank and riverbed stability, flood management and hydroelectric power development. Other current RWAPA projects and interests include the following:
Monitoring of, and participation in Ruedi management decisions: RWAPA maintains communications with the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other local and regional agencies regarding Ruedi management. RWAPA participates in weekly conference calls which address day to day water management and reservoir release issues. RWAPA attends and participates in meetings where management issues are discussed and future management directions are established.
LOCAL PLANNING PROJECTS
Roaring Fork and Fryingpan Multi-Objective Study: RWAPA was a co-sponsor, along with the Colorado Water Conservation Board, of the Roaring Fork and Fryingpan Multi-Objective Study (1999). This Study provided a comprehensive survey of river stability issues and solutions between Aspen and Glenwood Springs and spurred further planning for specific areas. RWAPA coordinated local input into the 208 Water Quality Plan update in partnership with the North West Colorado Council of Governments. RWAPA has carried out evaluations of hydropower potential for locations in Aspen, Glenwood Springs & Carbondale. RWAPA has carried out research for Pitkin County in the areas of minimum streamflow and water diversion.
The Roaring Fork Watershed Plan:The Roaring Fork Watershed Plan is a multi-year, multi-agency project aimed at providing long-term water management guidance for the entire watershed. The Ruedi Water and Power Authority is the official sponsor of the Plan and RWAPA staff is guiding the planning process. This effort began with the Roaring Fork Watershed Collaborative, an ad-hoc group of local government planners and interested citizens. Discussions among members of the Collaborative in 2005-6 revealed that concerns about water quality and quantity were common throughout the valley and warranted a more focused study. The Watershed Plan consists of the State of the Watershed Report, which was completed in 2008, and the Watershed Plan, which is currently underway. The Plan will be developed through a series of public meetings to be held in the second half of 2009. It is anticipated that Plan recommendations will be presented to local governments and water managers in late 2009 and early 2010. The Roaring Fork Conservancy is the primary contractor for planning work and further information on the Plan can be found on the Conservancy’s website, www.roaringfork.org.
Ruedi Hydro Plant Interior
10825 Water Supply Project: Four warm water fish species that inhabit the lower reaches of the Colorado River watershed in western Colorado have been listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. East Slope and West Slope water providers in the Upper Colorado Basin have committed to permanently supply 10,825 acre-feet of water per year (“10825 water”) to assist with the recovery of the endangered fish. This water is supplied to the “15-Mile Reach” of the Colorado River near Grand Junction during the late summer months. During this time of year the stream flow of the Colorado River within the 15-Mile Reach is substantially impacted by upstream water diversions, and the supplemental 10825 water is beneficial to the endangered fish recovery program.
The commitment to provide 10825 water is divided equally between East Slope and West Slope water providers, with each responsible to supply 5,412.5 acre-feet per year on a permanent basis. Currently, the 10825 water is provided on a temporary basis by Denver Water (from Williams Fork Reservoir) and by the Colorado River Water Conservation District (from Wolford Mountain Reservoir). The water providers must have permanent agreements in place that identify the permanent source of the 10825 water by December of 2009.
The East and West Slope water providers have agreed to cooperatively analyze and compare a wide range of alternatives to meet their obligations to provide summer and fall flow enhancements to the 15-Mile reach on a permanent basis. The 10825 Water Supply Study will develop and assess these cooperative alternatives. The study is managed by Grand River Consulting and is directed by a Steering Committee made up of a broad coalition of water providers who use water from the Colorado River basin, including the Ruedi Water and Power Authority. It is likely that Ruedi Reservoir, which has provided substantial water for endangered species over the last 20 years, will play a significant role in fulfilling the western slope’s 10825 obligation. For more information on the 10825 issue visit http://www.grandriver.us/10825/.
EPA Grant: In 1999, RWAPA wrote and administered a $30,000 EPA grant for river stabilization work on the Roaring Fork River between Basalt and Carbondale. This area has been the site of much controversy and significant investment in river bank and bed stabilization projects. It is considered a local model for environmentally sensitive and effective river stabilization.
Ruedi Futures Studies: RWAPA has been working with the Roaring Fork Conservancy and the Colorado River Water Conservation District on the Ruedi Futures Studies. The impetus for these studies is a tentative proposal to use Ruedi water as an element of the Homestake II project. Homestake II would deliver several thousand acre-feet of western slope water to the cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs. This prospect prompted local water interests to investigate Ruedi's capacity for adequately satisfying the various demands on Ruedi water. The first phase of the study, completed in 2002, was a survey of the economic value of Ruedi and the Fryingpan River. The second phase of the study was a fisheries habitat study which was completed in 2003. This study examined the relationships between flow fluctuations in the Fryingpan River, habitat conditions and fish populations. This was followed, in turn, by a macroinvertebrate study investigating the response of critical food sources to low winter flows. These studies were carried out by the Roaring Fork Conservancy and can be found at http://www.roaringfork.org/sitepages/pid136.php.
Ruedi Emergency Spillway
Public Education: RWAPA has sponsored the development of educational material illustrating the issues and agencies associated with Ruedi and Ruedi management. These materials include posters, charts and narratives, some of which are available elsewhere on this website. In addition, RWAPA regularly leads tours of the dam and hydropower facility and appears before local public groups and clubs to discuss Ruedi-related issues. The Poster that RWAPA developed in cooperation with the Colorado River Water Conservation District to provide summary information about Ruedi can be viewed here.
One of RWAPA’s recent public education efforts has focused on the issue of aquatic nuisance species, specifically the zebra and quagga mussels that threaten the health and infrastructure of lakes throughout the United States. These freshwater mussels are a central asian species that were accidentally introduced to North America decades ago in the ballast of cargo ships. They reproduce prolifically and threaten whole ecosystems by eating the microscopic plankton that form the basis of the food chain. These small crustaceans also fasten themselves to almost any surface, coating docks, boats and structures and doing billions of dollars worth of damage in the process. They can be transported inadvertently in ballast or on hulls when boats are taken from one lake to another so the Authority is leading an educational and inspection program aimed at assuring that they do not infest Ruedi. For more information on zebra and quagga mussels and how to prevent their spread, go to http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/ and click on Zebra and Quagga Mussels.