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Great Plains Region
Billings, Mont.
Media Contact:
Kara Lamb
970-962-4326
Mark Andersen
406-247-7610

Released On: June 20, 2003

Peaking Flows for Endangered Fish Off This Year
Loveland: A flow program to assist endangered fish in the Colorado River will not be possible this year. Owners and operators of upper Colorado River basin reservoirs are not in a position to provide releases because of last year’s drought.

The flow program is called Coordinated Reservoir Operations. It was established in 1995 as part of the Recovery Program for Endangered Fish in the Upper Colorado River Basin. The program coordinates releases of inflow to major reservoirs including Granby, Dillon, Green Mountain, Wolford, Williams Fork, and Ruedi, to help enhance peak flows to the Colorado River.

To coordinate flows, program entities track snowpack and predict runoff and reservoir storage for the Colorado River. Using this data, each spring they make a decision whether or not the “Coordinated Res Ops” enhancement releases should be made. When the program is in effect, enhanced peak flows help improve habitat restoration and spawning of the Colorado pike minnow and razorback suckers—two important factors in recovery of the endangered species.

Participation in the program is voluntary and entities must assess if they can participate without jeopardizing their own operations. While this year’s runoff has been a significant improvement over last year’s, reservoirs were drawn upon heavily during the past several years. Consequently, participants decided providing flows to the program this year would be too risky to reservoir storage.

Program members include the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Denver Water, Cities of Aurora & Colo. Springs, the Recovery Program, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Weather Service, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado Division of Water Resources, and the Bureau of Reclamation.

For more information on Coordinated Reservoir Operations for the Recovery Program, please contact Kara Lamb of Reclamation’s Eastern Colorado Area Office at 970/962-4326, or e-mail klamb@gp.usbr.gov.

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