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Upper Colorado Region
Salt Lake City, Utah
Media Contact:
Justyn Hock
(970) 248-0625
Steve McCall
(970) 248-0638

Released On: January 18, 2012

Selenium Management Program Plan Released for the Lower Gunnison River Basin
After nearly two years of cooperative efforts, Reclamation has released a blueprint for selenium control in the lower Gunnison River Basin of western Colorado, on behalf of Selenium Management Program partners. In addition to defining the selenium issues, the document describes a series of cooperative efforts to improve water quality while ensuring water security, environmental compliance, and regulatory certainty for water users in the Gunnison Basin.

When implemented, the SMP will benefit local water users and regional economies by protecting existing and future water uses through improvements to irrigation system infrastructure and on-farm irrigation practices that also reduce selenium. The program also attempts to expand efforts to control selenium from non-agricultural sources and improve scientific understanding of how selenium is released, how it moves, and where it ends up.

Carol DeAngelis, Reclamation's Western Colorado Area Manager said, "The release of the final SMP Formulation Document is an important step that will lead to the reduction of selenium in the Gunnison Basin. It gives us a road map for how program partners will work together to put into practice what we learn about selenium and reduce selenium concentrations in our rivers."

Selenium is a naturally-occurring trace element found in Mancos Shale. When water comes in contact with these soils it can mobilize the selenium, flushing it into streams and rivers. Selenium concentrations in the lower Gunnison River, downstream in the lower Colorado River, and some of their tributaries currently exceed levels that are deemed safe for sensitive aquatic life, including endangered fish species set by the Colorado Water Quality Control Division.

The program document is available at the website below, under the 'Documents' tab. For more information about the SMP visit the SMP website at www.usbr.gov/uc/wcao/progact/smp, e-mail seleniuminfo@usbr.gov, call 970-248-0600 and/or visit the related www.seleniumtaskforce.org website.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov.