The Bureau of Reclamation is preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) on operations of the Aspinall Unit. The EIS will describe effects of operational changes (changes in the rate and timing of water releases to the Gunnison River) at the Aspinall Unit that are related to compliance with the Endangered Species Act.
The Upper Colorado River Basin Recovery Program has prepared flow recommendations for the Gunnison River to assist in the recovery of endangered fish, including the Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker. The EIS will evaluate alternative operations that assist in meeting the flow recommendations while maintaining the congressionally authorized purposes of the Aspinall Unit.
The Aspinall Unit is located on the Gunnison River in Gunnison and Montrose Counties, Colorado and consists of Blue Mesa, Morrow Point, and Crystal Dams, Reservoirs, and Powerplants. Blue Mesa Reservoir is the most upstream reservoir of the three and is the largest reservoir in Colorado. Blue Mesa and Morrow Point Powerplants operate to meet peaking power demands while Crystal Reservoir, the most downstream reservoir, is operated to regulate flows in the Gunnison River.
The Aspinall Unit was authorized under the Colorado River Storage Project Act of 1956 which calls for the unit to be operated for multiple purposes including regulating the flow of the Colorado River; storing water for beneficial consumptive use; controlling floods; providing for the generation of hydropower; providing for fish and wildlife enhancement and recreation; and allowing the Upper Basin States to develop Colorado River Compact apportioned waters.
Morrow Point Dam
Blue Mesa Dam