Western Colorado Area Office
Colorado River Storage Project
Navajo Unit Operation Meeting
August 26, 2014
Next Meeting: January 20th 2015 (1:00 pm) at Farmington Civic Center
This meeting was held in Farmington, New Mexico at the Civic Center. The meeting minutes, as mailed, as well as the meeting handouts are available in the archives. Meeting attendance is shown on the archived minutes.
The purpose of these meetings, held annually in January, April, and August, is to gather input for determining upcoming operations for Navajo Reservoir. This input is used in Reclamation’s development of an overall 24-month study for operation of Reclamation projects in the Upper Colorado River Basin, which includes plans for Glen Canyon, Flaming Gorge, Aspinall Unit and Navajo. Input from individuals, organizations, and agencies along with other factors such as weather, water rights, endangered species requirements, flood control, hydro power, recreation, fish and wildlife management, and reservoir levels, will be considered in the development of these reservoir operation plans. In addition, the meetings are used to coordinate activities and exchange information among agencies, water users, and other interested parties concerning the San Juan River and Navajo Reservoir.
The October 2013 to July 30 2014 precipitation throughout the San Juan River Basin was approximately 50% to 70% of average throughout the 2014 water year.
San Juan River Basin snowpack above Navajo Reservoir had below average snowpack this winter. The maximum Snow Water Equivalency (SWE) was 14 inches on April 9th. For comparison, the 2013 SWE was 13.9 inches on March 13, 2013.
The April through July modified unregulated inflow to Navajo Reservoir, was 428,086 acre-feet (ac-ft) or 58% of the 30-year average.
Releases to the river since October 1st 2013 have ranged from 250 to 750 cubic feet per second (cfs) from Navajo Reservoir, which have been sufficient to meet target base flows in the critical habitat area. The observed inflow for April through July was 428,086 ac-ft (58% of the 30 year average).
An above average monsoon season kept instream flows closer to average over the winter, allowing the minimum release from the reservoir while still meeting target base flows. With these lower releases, the reservoir was able to gain storage over the winter.
In cooperation with the SJRIP, a spring peak release was not conducted during the 2014 in favor of recovering the reservoir and ensuring that user needs and target base flows were met in future years. The San Juan River Basin saw below-average natural flows during the spring and summer. The lowest SJRIP Spring Peak flow goal of 2,500 cfs was met for 17 days between March 1st and July 31st.
Navajo was at 6036.68 ft of pool elevation and 1,098,609 ac-ft of storage by August 24, which was 65% full, 43% active. Observed inflow into Navajo was 371 cfs. The release to the river was approximately 750 cfs with the release being reduced to 550 cfs on August 26th. NIIP was diverting 452 cfs and San Juan-Chama diversion as measured at the Azotea Tunnel has been turned off, reading only 1.8 cfs.
A brief update on nearby reservoirs was provided. At the Animas-La Plata Project (ALP), the reservoir (Lake Nighthorse) pool elevation was 6,881.38 feet and the current storage was 114,153 ac-ft, which was 99% of live capacity. Lake Nighthorse is not currently pumping or releasing. Lake Nighthorse was topped off in May and June of this year. A total of approximately 10,220 acre-feet (approximately 4% of the total river flow) of water was pumped from the Animas River at the Durango Pumping Plant during that time. Vallecito Reservoir elevation was 7,647.71 with storage of 81,534 ac-ft (65% full, 107.7% of average). The release was 557 cfs and the inflow was 208 cfs. The April through July actual inflow was 149,000 ac-ft (77% of average). Lemon Reservoir elevation was 8,099.63 feet with a current storage of 15,613 ac-ft (39% full, 66% of average). The release was 148 cfs and the inflow was 54 cfs. The April through July actual inflow was 37,000 ac-ft (67% of average).
The most probable forecast inflow for April-July of 2015 is 631,000 acre-ft (85% of average). The most probable forecast would likely allow a one week hydrograph spring peak release, consisting of seven days at 5,000 cfs. There would be no spring peak release under minimum probable forecast, and a full four-week hydrograph may be possible under the maximum probable forecast. A base release of 250-500 cfs will most likely be sufficient through the winter and into the spring unless hydrologic conditions change. This is a preliminary forecast that will likely change as the season progresses.
Current models show a 65% chance of a weak or moderate El Nino forming this winter. Impacts on the basin are uncertain.
The rock fall mitigation and concrete repairs to the spillway have been completed.
Starting September 8th a security fence along the frontage road will be installed. The new fence will not block off pedestrians access to the river. The frontage road will not block pedestrian use of the river. This work should take approximately one month.
Beginning September 13th, the rehabilitation work will begin on the right groin seepage area including the toe drain system.
Colorado State Parks and Wildlife – had a good summer recreation session, with higher reservoir storage than last year they were able to reopen the marina and boat ramp.
City of Farmington Utilities – Both units are operational and available for meeting flow requirements.
New Mexico Game and Fish – Hammond project is finished on south side of the river, still working on north side. Russian olive work continues.
NAPI – Navajo Indian Irrigation Project will close their diversion gate in Navajo reservoir on September 13, 2014.
PNM – Waiting for EAP to respond to approving the plan to discontinue units 2 and 3 on the San Juan Generating Station, for compliance with the Clean Air Act.
Soaring Eagle Lodge - The 3,000 cfs rain-induced flood a few weeks ago caused some damage. Hammond fishing Area is having an opening August 29th from 11-11:45 am.
Scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at the Civic Center in Farmington, New Mexico (200 West Arrington Street).
Meeting Minutes (Portable Document Format (PDF)): View these minutes as mailed (includes attendance list)
Email comments/inquires to: WestColoAreaOffice@usbr.gov