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Western Colorado Area Office

Colorado River Storage Project
Aspinall Unit Operation Meeting
January 22, 2015

Blue Mesa Reservoir
Morrow Point Reservoir
Crystal Reservoir

Aspinall Unit Dam Aspinall Unit Dam Aspinall Unit Dam Aspinall Unit Dam Aspinall Unit Dam


The next operation meeting is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 at the Western Colorado Area Office in Grand Jct
Participation
This meeting was held at the Holiday Inn Express in Montrose. Attendees are noted on the distribution list. Handouts are available for review and can be found in the menu at the bottom of the page.
Purpose of Meeting
The purpose of operation meetings-- usually held in January, April, and August-- is to gather input for determining upcoming operations for Blue Mesa, Morrow Point, and Crystal Reservoirs. This input is used in Reclamation’s development of specific operations for the Aspinall Unit and for the overall 24-month study (www.usbr.gov/uc/water/crsp/studies/index.html) for operation of Reclamation projects in the Upper Colorado River Basin, which include plans for Glen Canyon, Flaming Gorge, and Navajo Units, as well as the Aspinall Unit. Operation of the Aspinall Unit considers projected inflows to its reservoirs, hydropower and flood control needs, existing water rights, minimum instream flows, target elevations for reservoirs, flow needs for endangered fish and other resources, recreation, and other factors. In addition, the meetings are used to coordinate activities and exchange information among agencies, water users, and other interested parties concerning the Gunnison River.
Handouts provided included data on 2014 operations; inflows to the reservoirs to date; and projected most probable, minimum, and maximum inflow forecasts for the 2015 water year.

A Record of Decision for the Aspinall Unit Operations Environmental Impact Statement was signed on May 3, 2012. The EIS modifies the operations of the Aspinall Unit to provide sufficient releases of water at times, quantities, and durations necessary to avoid jeopardy to endangered fish species and adverse modification of their designated critical habitat while maintaining and continuing to meet authorized purposes of the Aspinall Unit.  In addition, the water right for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has been quantified and adjudicated. These operation meetings are used to discuss proposals for long-term operation plans to address these and related resource management issues.

Operations

General: Blue Mesa Reservoir capacities are described in meetings as follows: The reservoir holds 940,700 acre-feet (af). Active capacity is 748,400 af, inactive capacity is 81,100 af, and dead storage is 111,200 af. Live capacity is the active plus inactive, which totals 829,500 af. Discussions during operation meetings use live capacity.

2014-2015 Operations:

    Snow Conditions:  October 2014 was very dry, with the monthly precipitation in the majority of the Gunnison Basin between 50 and 69% of average.  November and December 2014 had wetter conditions, with the Gunnison Basin experiencing over 100% average monthly precipitation.  Conditions dried up a bit in January 2015, and the Gunnison Basin’s snow water equivalent is now at 88% of normal.

    Operations Past and Present:  Over the September 2014 to mid-January 2015, Blue Mesa content dropped 75,0000 acre-feet, resulting in the reservoir being one foot under the icing target.  During this same time period, Gunnison River flows at Whitewater fluctuated between 1,100 and 2,400 cfs.  As of January 20, 2015, the conditions of reservoirs in the basin are as follows:

    Reservoir

    % of Capacity

    Paonia

    5%

    Taylor Park

    75%

    Crystal

    87%

    Morrow Point

    95%

    Blue Mesa

    67%

    Ridgway

    93%

    Silver Jack

    60%

    Forecasts and Future Operations:  The January 1st Blue Mesa Forecasted April-July Inflow was 690,000 acre-feet.  By mid-January, this forecast dropped to 660,000 acre-feet.  This forecast would categorize 2015 as an Average Dry year.  If the forecast were to remain unchanged, an Average Dry year would result in a desired Whitewater peak of 8,070 cfs.  The duration of half bank flows (also 8,070 cfs) would be 10 days.  Assuming the forecast doesn’t change for the May 1st forecast, the Black Canyon Peak Flow would be 5,407 cfs, with May 1st to July 25th shoulder flows of 570 cfs.  Baseflow targets at Whitewater would be 1,050 throughout the remainder of the year.

    Should these forecasted inflow conditions remain unchanged, a possible spring peak operations scenario would involve ramping up releases around mid-May to reach the Whitewater peak and the 10 day half bankfull duration.  Flows would be just over 5,000 cfs in the Black Canyon.  Down ramping would begin at the end of May, with flows returning to just over 1,000 cfs in the Black Canyon in early June.

2015 Weather Outlook:

    The existence of weak El Nino conditions is 55-60% likely for January to March 2015.  This prediction just lowered from 60-65%.  El Nino conditions generally result in dry and warm conditions north of Colorado and wet and cool conditions south of Colorado, however the current weather patterns haven’t been classical El Nino patterns.  There is a probability of increased precipitation throughout the spring months.

    Forecasts

    Time Period

    Temperature

    Precipitation

    6-10 Day

    ↑ probability of ↑ temperature

    ↑ probability of ↓ precipitation

    8-14 Day

    ↑ probability of ↑ temperature

    ↑ probability of ↓ precipitation

    February

    ↑ probability of ↑ temperature

    ↑ probability of ↑ precipitation

    February/March/April

    ↨ temperature

    ↑ probability of ↑ precipitation

    March/April/May

    ↨ temperature

    ↑ probability of ↑ precipitation

    **KEY: ↑ = increased; ↓ = decreased; ↨ = equal chances

    The drought monitor has essentially remained unchanged since September 2014, however if Colorado does not receive much precipitation in the next couple of weeks, drought conditions may expand northward.

Special Flow Requests:

    Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association needs to do some repair work on their dam at the East Portal this spring.  Flows will need to be around 350 cfs and work is expected to take 1 – 2 days.

Agency/Organization Activities
Fish & Wildlife Service - In 2014, over 13,000 fish went through the fish ladder in the lower Gunnison, and about 30 were endangered fish.  These numbers indicate a good year.  Because of the Aspinall ROD, they are able to operate the fish ladder year-round.  Things are going well from their perspective.
CWCB - A board meeting is scheduled for January 26th and 27th.  Severance tax applications are due at the end of the month.  The contingency plan regarding Lake Powell’s minimum power pool is still ongoing, and it looks like possible mitigative efforts may include a combination of releases from Flaming Gorge, cloud seeding, and volunteer demand management.

Bureau of Land Management -The trout in the Gunnison below Crystal did well in the high flows last year, however use and recreation numbers were down last year due to the high flows.

Tri-County - Ridgway Reservoir is 93% full, and they are taking on storage nearly daily.  The warm temperatures have been melting the snow.  They’re putting about 60 cfs down river and running the small generator at optimum flow.  They’ll stay at these operations the remainder of winter, and then (if it is an average winter), they will fire up the big generator in March or April.  They will save water as long as possible for the water users. 

Colorado River Water Conservation District -Tom Alvey is the new Vice President from Delta County.  There are also two new board members from the Gunnison Basin area.  The River District just received an $8 Million Regional Conservation Partnership Program grant to help implement water efficiency improvements in four areas.  Their 2015 Grant Program is closing at the end of the month.  There is $250,000 available. See www.crwcd.org

NRCS - As of January 1st, the snowpack was 99% of median.  Today it is 86% of median, which reflects decline of 13%.  This doesn’t necessarily mean we lost snow pack, but we definitely have not added to our snowpack.

UVWUA - 6 more miles of pipe completed this winter. Hydropower may come online earlier this season.

Upper Gunnison WCD - They have a vacancy on their board, and they need a director from the Crested Butte division.  The Gunnison whitewater park is about to undergo construction, as the lowest drop failed and needs repair.  They have a water workshop June 17 – 19.

Western Area Power Administration - February will be tight, as four units are out at Glen Canyon, however energy prices are great right now for supplementing peak energy demands.

NPS - Bruce Noble has replaced Connie Rudd as superintendent of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area.

CPW - The high flows were great for the rainbow trout.  There has been a significant increase in biomass in the trout in the canyon.  The ramping rates were really supportive of the fish.

Division of Water Resources - Doesn’t foresee administration issues this year with the exception of possible issues in the Surface Creek and North Fork areas if snow pack doesn’t increase.

City of Montrose - The new whitewater park is looking great, and is construction is close to being completed.

Trout Unlimited - They are a partner in the RCPP and are excited.  They have completed relief ditch diversion modification. Gunnison River appears to be in excellent condition.

Black Canyon Anglers - The river is awesome/beautiful right now.  Ben Olson is no longer with the Black Canyon Anglers.  They appreciate the “planned” May ramp as discussed in the presentation.

 

Next Meeting

The next operations meeting is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 at the Western Colorado Area Office in Grand Junction

Archives: Meeting Minutes/handouts

Meeting Minutes (Portable Document Format (PDF)): View these minutes as mailed (includes distribution/attendee list). Meeting handouts listed separately

Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: January, 2015 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: January, 2015 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Weather Outlook: January, 2015 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: September, 2014 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Weather Outlook: September, 2014 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: September, 2014 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: April, 2014 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: April, 2014 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: January, 2014 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: January, 2014 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: September, 2013 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: September, 2013 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: April, 2013 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting CBRFC presentation: April, 2013 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: April, 2013 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: January, 2013 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: January, 2013 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: August, 2012 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: August, 2012 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: April, 2012 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: April, 2012 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: January, 2012 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: January, 2012 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: August, 2011 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: August, 2011 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: April, 2011 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: April, 2011 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: January, 2011 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: January, 2011 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: September, 2010 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: September, 2010 (PDF)
Gunnison River Basin Forecasts: September, 2010 (PDF)
CDOW ANS Program: September, 2010 (PDF)
Hartland Fish Passage: April, 2010 (PDF)
Upper Colorado Spring/Summer Outlook: April, 2010 (PDF)
Gunnison River Basin Forecasts: April, 2010 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: April, 2010 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: April, 2010 (PDF)
Gunnison River Fishery Update: January, 2010 (PDF)
Colorado Winter/Spring Outlook: January, 2010 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting EIS update: January, 2010 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: January, 2010 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: August, 2009 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: August, 2009 (PDF)
24 Month Study Overview: April, 2009 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: April, 2009 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: April, 2009 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: January, 2009 (PDF)
Aspinall Operations EIS Update: January, 2009 (PDF)
Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies Presentation: January, 2009 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: January, 2009 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: August, 2008 (PDF)
Aspinall Operations EIS Update: August, 2008 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: August, 2008 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: April, 2008 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: April, 2008 (PDF)
CBRFC presentation: April, 2008 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit maintenance: March, 2008 (PDF)
Gunnison River Fishery Update: January, 2008 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: January, 2008 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: January, 2008 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: August, 2007 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: August, 2007 (PDF)
Quagga-mussel pictures: August, 2007 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: April, 2007 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: April, 2007 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: January, 2007 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Handouts: January, 2007 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: August, 2006 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: April, 2006 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: January, 2006 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: August, 2005 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: April, 2005 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit meeting Minutes: January, 2005 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: August 2004 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: April 2004 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: January 2004 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: August 2003 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: April 2003 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: January 2003 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: August 2002 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: April 2002 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: January 2002 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: August 2001 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: April 2001 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: January 2001 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: August 2000 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: April 2000 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: January 2000 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: August 1999 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: April 1999 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: January 1999 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: August 1998 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: April 1998 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: January 1998 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: August 1997 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: April 1997 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: January 1997 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: August 1996 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: April 1996 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: January 1996 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: August 1995 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: April 1995 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: January 1995 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: August 1994 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: April 1994 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: January 1994 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: August 1993 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: April 1993 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: January 1993 (PDF)
Aspinall Unit Meeting Minutes: August 1992 (PDF)
Distribution List

see archive January 2015

Email comments/inquires to: WestColoAreaOffice@usbr.gov