Colorado’s nine river basin water roundtables, including the Gunnison Basin Water Roundtable, are working to meet a July deadline for completing “basin implementation plans.”
The plans will look at present and future water needs and water projects in their areas as part of Governor John Hickenlooper’s call for a Colorado Water Plan to be completed by year’s end.
Information from the Surface Creek Valley is being compiled for inclusion as part of the Gunnison Basin Implementation Plan.
Two of the 32 members on the Gunnison Basin Water Roundtable are local residents who have been working specifically on the Surface Creek Valley water needs that will become part of the basin implementation plan. They are Austin Keiser and Ron Shaver.
The two men have held several public meetings in the valley to inform residents and water users of the process and to get input on local water needs and project priorities.
A list of water project needs has been compiled and priorities have been assigned to each in three major categories: reservoirs; ditches; and, new reservoir project proposals.
The Grand Mesa Water Conservancy District notes that much work is needed on the local reservoir system.
“The reservoir system that exists on Grand Mesa encompasses approximately 110 reservoirs in four drainage systems,” the district reports.
“Approximately one-half of these structures are around 100 years old and have various degrees of maintenance and repairs issues. Over the next 20 years a great deal of money is going to be needed to rebuild and repair these aging structures. The total capacity of this reservoir system is approximately 28,000 acre feet of water.”
Following are the priorities that have been assigned to local reservoir projects that next month will become part of the Gunnison Basin Implementation Plan:
Reservoirs: 1) Peak Reservoir, work in progress; 2) Boyd Reservoir, rebuilding on dam under construction; 3) Blanche Park Reservoir, breached; 4) Young’s Creek Reservoir #1 and #2, leaking and under restriction; 5) Marcott Reservoir, many leaks; 6) Greenwood Reservoir, leaks, under construction; 7) Bonita Reservoir, discharge pipe leaks; 8) Granby Reservoir 511, outlet pipe leaks; 9) Park Reservoir, outlet pipe needs repair; 10) Leon Park Reservoir, discharge pipe work needed; 11) Cole Reservoirs #4 and #5, head gate from creek issues, needs inlet ditches cleaned; 12) Skinned Horse Reservoir, leaks; 13) Leon Lake Reservoir, tunnel work needed; 14) Ryan Reservoir, needs work to hold full decree; 15) Doughty #1 (Chipmunk Reservoir), breached; 16) Doughty #2 (Slide Rock Reservoir) needs to be rebuilt; 17) Cole Reservoir #2, rebuild, leaks; 18) Boulder Park Reservoir, breached; 19) Beaver Reservoir, rebuild dam structure.
Local ditches that need to be piped are prioritized as follows:
1) North Delta Canal; 2) Granby Ditch through Sand Creek; 3) Orchard Ranch Ditch; 4) Alfalfa Ditch; 5) Trickle Ditch; 6) Big Ditch; 7) Fogg Ditch; 8) Butte Ditch; 9) Forrest Ditch; 10) Weir and Johnson.
New local reservoir projects prioritized for the basin Implementation Plan are the following ones:
1) West Fork Reservoir, 15,000 acre feet conditional decree; 2) Scotts Pasture Reservoir, 8,000 acre feet capture low snow runoff; 3) Poison Gulch Reservoir, 5,000 acre feet, capture waste water off of Cedar Mesa; 4) Fruitgrowers Reservoir pumpback, enlargement; 5) Cactus Park Reservoir, 5,000 acre feet, capture low snow runoff.
Conservancy district managers and private reservoir owners complain often and vigorously about the regulatory cost and delay in getting needed permits to do repairs on reservoirs located within the national forest.
Linda Bledsoe, permitting specialist with the GMUG explained to the DCI that the agency has to follow laws that have been adopted by the General Assembly and Congress, and the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers also administer their own regulations on projects making a process that can be extremely complex and frustrating for everyone.
Bledsoe advises that reservoir owners contact the GMUG early in the process of reservoir work in order to possibly help overcome procedural delay.