Upper Colorado Region News Releases http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom News Releases from Reclamation's Upper Colorado Region http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=47786 Adaptive Management Work Group to Meet in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Colorado River Topics
The Bureau of Reclamation announced that the Adaptive Management Work Group will meet on August 27 - 28, 2014 in Flagstaff, Ariz., to address topics related to the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program. The AMWG committee provides a forum for discussion of topics related to the operation of Glen Canyon Dam and ongoing monitoring of resource conditions downstream of the dam. <P> A number of agenda items will be covered during the two-day meeting including current Upper Colorado River Basin hydrology and Glen Canyon Dam operations; the Water Year 2015 hydrograph; science updates on food-base studies, status of humpback chub and trout and new insights on trout-chub dynamics, and the changing substrate of the Colorado River; 2015-2017 budget and work plan items; new information on razorback sucker in western Grand Canyon; and the status of the Glen Canyon Dam Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement including draft alternatives, process, and current schedule. <P> The AMWG is a federal advisory committee appointed by the Secretary of the Interior with representatives from federal agencies, Colorado River Basin states, Native American Tribal governments, environmental groups, recreation interests, and contractors for federal power from Glen Canyon Dam. The Secretary receives recommendations on how to best protect downstream resources and balance river operations through the varied stakeholder interests represented by the AMWG. <P> The meeting will be held at the Little America Hotel, Ballroom B, 2515 East Butler Avenue, Flagstaff, Ariz. The meeting will begin on August 27, at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will run from 8:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. on August 28. For more information on the Adaptive Management Work Group meeting, please visit our <a href="http://www.usbr.gov/uc/rm/amp/amwg/mtgs/14aug27/index.html">website.</a> <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=47407 Reclamation Releases a Final Environmental Assessment for Piping the Slack and Patterson Laterals
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Reclamation announced today that it has released a final environmental assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact on piping Roger’s Mesa Water Distribution Association’s Slack and Patterson Laterals off the Fire Mountain Canal, located in Delta County, Colo. The project involves replacing approximately 9.4 miles of unlined earthen laterals with buried water pipeline. The purpose of the project is to improve the efficiency of water delivery to ditch users and reduce salinity loading in the Colorado River Basin. <P> The final environmental assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact is available on our <a href="http://www.usbr.gov/uc/envdocs/index.html">web site</a> or a copy can be received by contacting Reclamation. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=47406 Reclamation Releases a Final Environmental Assessment for Constructing a Parking Lot near Fruitgrowers Reservoir
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Reclamation announced today that it has released a final environmental assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for a license agreement to allow Delta County to construct, operate, and maintain a parking area at Fruitgrowers Reservoir. Fruitgrowers Reservoir is located near Eckert, Colo., the parking area will consist of a 20 car parking lot and boundary fence. The parking area would address safety concerns by removing cars and pedestrians from the shoulder of the North Road. <P> The final environmental assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact is available on our <a href="http://www.usbr.gov/uc/envdocs/index.html">web site</a> or a copy can be received by contacting Reclamation. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=47244 Stegomastodon Found at Elephant Butte
ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. – Excavation is nearly complete on the site where a Stegomastodon has rested for millions of years near Elephant Butte Reservoir. <P> Campers in the area discovered what appeared to be a jaw bone and tusk on Monday and reported the discovery to New Mexico State Parks, who manage the land for the Bureau of Recreation under an agreement with Reclamation. <P> Scientists from Reclamation, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and New Mexico State Parks tentatively identified the fossil of the prehistoric elephant based on photos from the campers. New Mexico State Parks immediately closed the area to the public and secured the fossil until excavation could begin today. <P> "This area was under water until just a couple of weeks ago when the lake level dropped as Reclamation began releasing water for irrigation," said Kay Dunlap, Elephant Butte Lake State Park Director. <P> The Stegomastodon discovery provides both a unique and potentially more complete specimen for scientists to study. The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science led the excavation, and will lead the study of the specimen. <P> Reclamation Archaeologist Mark Hungerford described the discovery as a "rare and extremely important find." <P> To date, Reclamation has documented close to 180 paleontological sites on its land throughout the 17 Western states. Under the requirements of the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act of 2009, Reclamation must protect paleontological resources on our land using scientific principles and expertise. <P> Crews expect to complete excavation today. Although this find has generated much interest from the public, it is important to remember that it is a violation of federal and state law to remove archaeological and paleontological specimens from federal or state lands. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=47408 Reclamation Releases a Final Environmental Assessment for Developing Hydropower at Shavano Falls
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Reclamation announced today that it has released a final environmental assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for a hydropower project in an area referred to as "Shavano Falls," part of the Uncompahgre Project in Montrose, Colo. <P> The project, proposed by the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, will be located at existing Reclamation facilities on the Montrose and Delta Canal at Shavano Falls. A Lease of Power Privilege will authorize the use of federal facilities and Uncompahgre Project water to construct, operate, and maintain a 2.8 megawatt hydropower facility. <P> The hydropower plant will operate on irrigation water conveyed in the Montrose and Delta Canal, and no new diversions will occur as a result of the hydropower project. Construction activities and operation of the hydropower plant will not affect the delivery of irrigation water. <P> The final environmental assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact is available on our <a href="http://www.usbr.gov/uc/envdocs/index.html">web site</a> or a copy can be received by contacting Reclamation. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=47225 Reclamation Announces Public Meeting on Recreation at Lake Nighthorse
DURANGO, Colo. - Reclamation will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 from 5 pm to 7 pm on recreation at Lake Nighthorse, part of the Animas-La Plata Project. The meeting will be at the Durango Community Recreation Center, 2700 Main Avenue, in the Eolus and Sunlight Meeting Rooms. Reclamation will provide a brief presentation, and the public will be able to ask questions and look at maps and plans about recreation at Lake Nighthorse. <P> Currently, Reclamation is working with all Animas-La Plata Project partners and stakeholders to reach consensus regarding development and management of recreation at Lake Nighthorse. We believe we are nearing an agreement to integrate recreation into the project, while ensuring compatibility with the primary purposes of the project for municipal and industrial water supply. <P> We are conducting regular meetings with partners and stakeholders to discuss and resolve a broad range of issues concerning water quality, environmental protection, and tribal trust responsibilities of the United States government. Many issues have been resolved and Reclamation continues to work on remaining issues, including working closely with Association members to ensure protection of cultural resources and annexation of project lands by the city of Durango for administration of recreation and law enforcement purposes. <P> For more information about the Animas – La Plata Project, please visit our <a href="http://www.usbr.gov/uc/progact/animas/index.html">website</a> or phone 970-385-6500, or email <a href="mailto:wcaoinfo@usbr.gov">wcaoinfo@usbr.gov</a>. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=47429 Reclamation Releases a Draft Environmental Assessment for Piping the Minnesota Canal Extension Ditch
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Reclamation announced today that it has released a draft environmental assessment on piping Minnesota Canal and Reservoir Company's extension ditch located in Delta County, Colo. The project involves replacing approximately 3.8 miles of unlined earthen canal with buried water pipeline. The purpose of the project is to improve the efficiency of water delivery to canal users and reduce salinity loading in the Colorado River Basin. <P> The draft environmental assessment is available on our <a href="http://www.usbr.gov/uc/envdocs/index.html">web site</a> or a copy can be received by contacting Reclamation. <P> Reclamation will consider all comments received prior to preparing a final environmental assessment. Comments can be submitted to the email address above or to: Ed Warner, Area Manager, Bureau of Reclamation, 445 West Gunnison Ave, Suite 221, Grand Junction, CO 81501. Comments are due by Monday, June 30, 2014. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=47124 Reclamation to Perform Dam Safety Investigations at Soldier Creek Dam
SALT LAKE CITY - Reclamation announced today that it will soon begin dam safety investigations at Soldier Creek Dam which impounds Strawberry Reservoir. The investigations are routine and are not indicative of any threat to public safety or to the viability of the dam. <P> The planned work will consist of digging three test pits on the downstream face of the dam. The work will require the removal of a section of guardrail at each test pit location. While heavy equipment is being positioned to dig the test pits, there may some sporadic and minor delays to traffic flowing across the crest of the dam—on Forest Road 090 between Highway 40 and the Aspen Grove Campground. <P> Reclamation will work diligently to make certain all work is performed on weekdays, not impacting weekend use of the Aspen Grove Campground and its boat ramp.The investigation work is expected to be completed between Tuesday, June 10 and Thursday, June 19, 2014. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=47064 Above Average Snowpack will Enhance Temporary Increase in Releases from Flaming Gorge Dam to Benefit Endangered Fish
SALT LAKE CITY - Above average snowpack in the upper Green River Basin will enable Reclamation to increase the overall duration of the planned temporary increase in releases from Flaming Gorge Dam to benefit endangered razorback sucker in the Green River below the dam. <P> Scientists have detected the presence of larval razorback sucker in critical nursery habitat in the flood plains in the Green River which is the 'trigger' for increasing releases from Flaming Gorge Dam. Beginning Monday, June 2, 2014, flows will increase to powerplant capacity 4,600 cubic-feet-per-second for approximately 14 days or until the flows in the Yampa River decrease to between 12,000-13,000 cfs. Bypass releases from the dam will then be initiated to support a total downstream release of 8,600 cfs for another 14 days to maintain the desired total flow in the river of 18,600 cfs at target locations. <P> Flows from Flaming Gorge Dam have been temporarily increased during the spring since 2011 as part of a multi-year cooperative experimental program to benefit the endangered razorback sucker. Flaming Gorge Reservoir is expected to receive 135 percent of average inflow volume this year supporting a longer increased release period. <P> Scientists have been monitoring the critical habitat to detect the first emergence of razorback sucker larvae as a 'trigger' for an experiment being implemented by Reclamation in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program. A major purpose of the experiment is to transport as many larval fish as possible into critical nursery habitat which exists in the floodplains along the Green River downstream of the confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers. This nursery habitat connects to the river at flows at or above 18,600 cfs, which is the targeted flow this year with the above average hydrology. The increased releases from the dam combined with the Yampa River flows will provide the maximum possible flow to transport the larval fish. <P> Current projections are for the Yampa River to reach at least 16,400 cfs this Friday, May 30, and for flows to remain elevated between 15,000 to 16,000 cfs through June 5. The projected peak at Jensen, Utah, resulting from the combined flows of the Yampa River and Flaming Gorge releases is approximately 20,000 to 22,000 cfs. <P> The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has been consulted concerning the impacts of the releases to the rainbow trout fishery below the dam. While releases during this period will make fishing the river more difficult, no adverse impacts to the fishery are expected. <P> <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=47010 Releases from the Aspinall Unit to Increase Temporarily to Benefit Endangered Fish
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Reclamation will begin increasing releases from the Aspinall Unit, consisting of Blue Mesa, Morrow Point, and Crystal reservoirs on the Gunnison River, on May 23, 2014, as required by the Record of Decision for the Aspinall Unit Operations Final Environmental Impact Statement. The increased release will attempt to meet flow targets on the Gunnison River, designed to benefit endangered fish species downstream while continuing to meet the congressionally authorized purposes of the Aspinall Unit. <P> Beginning on May 23, 2014, flows in the Gunnison River through the Black Canyon will begin increasing at a minimum of 500 cubic-feet-per-second a day resulting in flows through the canyon of around 9,000 cfs on June 2, 2014. Flows will remain at or above 8,000 cfs for 10 days before incrementally decreasing toward a range of 4000 cfs to 5000 cfs by the middle of June 2014. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=47085 Reclamation Announces Beginning of 2014 Irrigation Season for Rio Grande Project
ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. – The Rio Grande will flow through southern New Mexico on Sunday as the irrigation season begins for the Rio Grande Project. An initial release of 800 cubic-feet-per-second will begin out of Caballo Reservoir at 8 a.m. increasing to 2,500 cfs at noon. <P> Releases will begin out of Elephant Butte Reservoir at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. The public should be aware that even though the river bed is currently dry between Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs, a large amount of water will begin flowing that day. The release will begin at 2,000 cfs and will likely remain close to that level until August. <P> Rio Grande Project water is used to irrigate lands in the Elephant Butte Irrigation District in southern New Mexico, the El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1 in west Texas and Mexico. Project water is also used for municipal and industrial purposes by El Paso, Texas. <P> The public should be aware that water levels within the Rio Grande channel will fluctuate during the irrigation season, particularly with the initial release from each dam. <P> Water levels at Elephant Butte Reservoir reached historic lows last summer. The reservoir recovered slightly due in part to some good monsoons in September and is currently at 18.5 percent capacity. Last year at this time it was at 11 percent of total storage capacity. The low spring runoff projections show that the reservoir will likely drop significantly again this summer. The present allotments for irrigation on the Rio Grande Project are 25 percent of a full supply. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=46864 Reclamation Awards $13.8 Million Contract for Guard Services at Glen Canyon Dam
SALT LAKE CITY - The Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a $13.8 million contract to Chenega Total Asset Protection, LLC, of Ashburn, V.A., for armed guard security services at Glen Canyon Dam. <P> "Through this contract award, we are able to continue our enhanced security program and presence at this vital National Critical Infrastructure facility," said Upper Colorado Regional Director Larry Walkoviak. "Reclamation places a high priority on safety and security to protect the public, our employees, and our facilities and we look forward to having our new contractor on board to help us meet that challenge." <P> The new five-year guard services contract will take the place of the existing contract which expires in mid-June. The new contract will provide integrated security, safety, and law enforcement modifications based on recommendations identified in several security studies and reviews conducted over the past several years according to Reclamation policy and guidelines. <P> The new contractor will employ approximately 44 individuals and provide for increased capabilities and an improved security posture at the dam, powerplant, and visitor center. Chenega Total Asset Protection LLC, is an 8(a) Program Alaska Native enterprise and wholly owned subsidiary of Chenega Corporation of Anchorage, AK. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=46764 Water Managers Cooperate to Create Beneficial River Flows
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Flows on the Rio Grande from Albuquerque to Elephant Butte Reservoir will increase this week in a coordinated effort aimed at triggering a spawn of the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. This pioneering effort by federal and non-federal water managers will create conditions that haven't naturally occurred over the last four years due to drought. <P> The April forecast data released by the Natural Resources Conservation Service shows snowpack volumes well below average throughout southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. The inflow at El Vado Reservoir is expected to be about 64,000 acre-feet of water or about 28 percent of average. This type of coordinated effort is needed to attempt to cue a spawn, as minnow numbers in the critical habitat from Cochiti Dam to just above Elephant Butte Reservoir are at their lowest since populations have been monitored. <P> The release out of Abiquiu Reservoir increased to about 1,500 cubic-feet-per-second today to begin moving water toward the Middle Rio Grande. The flow out of Cochiti Reservoir will increase to as high as 2,000 cfs, doubling the current release. It will continue for a week, and then be stepped down to the current release. The goal of this flow is to mimic a natural spring runoff peak to encourage the Rio Grande silvery minnow to spawn while still meeting the irrigation needs of the middle valley. The water for this action is being released from reservoirs and will not diminish the available water supply for Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District irrigators. <P> "This release is the result of focused planning and coordination among water management agencies and the Fish and Wildlife Service," said Albuquerque Area Manager Mike Hamman. "It was a tremendous effort by all involved to use what limited water that is available to help create an artificial pulse flow that we hope will trigger a substantial spawn, which hasn't happened naturally in the last few years due to the severe drought conditions in New Mexico." <P> This multi-agency effort was between Reclamation, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, who agreed to an exchange that provided the largest portion of the water, the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, the city of Albuquerque, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers. The Middle Rio Grande Pueblos Coalition is also working closely with Reclamation to assist in this effort. <P> "Creating a successful spawn of silvery minnow while still meeting the needs of our farmers and cities is a remarkable accomplishment," said Estevan Lopez, Director of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission. "We are proud of this innovative effort and the hard work of all the people involved. This success was only possible through collaboration in the middle Rio Grande valley and demonstrates New Mexico's ability to work through another summer of drought." <P> The approximately 18,000 acre-feet of water to be used for the peak flow came from two sources. About 12,000 acre-feet came from an exchange whereby water held in storage last year on behalf of the six Middle Rio Grande Pueblos that went unused and would have been released last fall was exchanged at Elephant Butte with the Water Authority for San Juan-Chama water. Updated sediment studies at Abiquiu Reservoir led to the discovery of an additional 6,000 acre feet of water which must now move down to Elephant Butte. <P> Water managers and biologists have been preparing for this since the beginning of the year. A similar effort was underway in 2013, but could not be attempted due to extremely low river flows. Conditions are now more favorable and recent meetings have focused on the logistics of the release for the best possible timing. It is important that river temperatures are warm enough to allow for minnow spawning and that there is enough natural flow in the river to allow the majority of this water to reach Elephant Butte. Crews will be in the river to gather some of the minnow eggs as part of the FWS’s Southwestern Native Aquatic Resources & Recovery Center propagation program and for the city of Albuquerque BioPark. Other eggs will hopefully hatch in the river to help maintain the wild population. MRGCD is coordinating with egg collection crews and adjusting its intake structures as necessary to avoid accidental entrainment of eggs it in its system. <P> A similar high flow was released from El Vado on April 25-28 for overall ecosystem improvement on the Rio Chama. In that case, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District agreed to allow its water to be moved down and held at Abiquiu Reservoir for use in the Middle Rio Grande in the coming months. ABCWUA allowed MRGCD to use some of its storage space in Abiquiu. The flow reached 2,000 cfs for about 24 hours before being gradually reduced. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=46746 Reclamation Releases a Final Environmental Assessment for Piping Parts of the Clipper Ditch
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Reclamation announced today that it has released a final environmental assessment on the Clipper Ditch Pipeline Project, part of the Crawford Project in Delta County, Colo. The project involves replacing approximately 3.5 miles of open irrigation ditch with buried water pipeline. The purpose of the project is to improve the efficiency of water delivery to ditch users and reduce salinity loading in the Colorado River Basin. <P> The final environmental assessment is available on <a href="http://www.usbr.gov/uc/envdocs/index.html">our website</a> or a copy can be received by contacting Reclamation. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=46745 Reclamation Releases a Draft Environmental Assessment for Constructing a Parking Lot near Fruitgrowers Reservoir
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Reclamation announced today that it has released a draft environmental assessment for a license agreement to allow Delta County to construct, operate, and maintain a parking area at Fruitgrowers Reservoir. Fruitgrowers Reservoir is located near Eckert, Colo., the parking area would consist of a 20 car parking lot and boundary fence. The parking area would address safety concerns by removing cars and pedestrians from the shoulder of the North Road. <P> The draft environmental assessment is available on <a href="http://www.usbr.gov/uc/envdocs/index.html">our website</a> or a copy can be received by contacting Reclamation. <P> Reclamation will consider all comments received prior to preparing a final environmental assessment. Comments can be submitted to the email address above or to: Ed Warner, Area Manager, Bureau of Reclamation, 445 West Gunnison Ave, Suite 221, Grand Junction, CO 81501-5711. Comments are due by May 30, 2014. <P>