Draft Environmental Assessment Released for Upper Gunnison Water Sale

Media Contact: Steve McCall, (970) 248-0638

For Release: August 07, 2003

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has released for public review and comment a draft environmental assessment on a proposed contract to sell the Upper Gunnison Water Conservancy District up to 500 acre-feet of water annually from Blue Mesa Reservoir in Gunnison County, CO.

The Conservancy District would use the water to protect water users in the Upper Gunnison Basin from having their domestic water supplies interrupted by downstream senior water rights. The water would be released to the Gunnison River during times the senior water rights placed a "call" on the river. A "call" is a request to the State Engineer to force water users with junior decrees to cease or diminish their diversions and pass the called amount of water to the downstream senior water right.

At the present time individual water users can purchase water from Blue Mesa but separate water contracts with Reclamation and separate agreements with the State Engineer are needed for each water use. Under the proposed water sale plan, this system would become more efficient and less expensive for water users and government agencies.

Written comments on the draft assessment may be sent to Area Manager, Bureau of Reclamation, at 2764 Compass Drive, Suite 106, Grand Junction, CO 81506 by September 7th, 2003. Comments may also be emailed to smccall@uc.usbr.gov.

For more information or to receive a copy of the draft assessment, contact Steve McCall or Dave Roberts at the above address or telephone 970-248-0600.

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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 and follow us on Twitter @USBR.