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=66070 Interior to host signing ceremony and media availability for Colorado River Drought Contingency Plans
BOULDER CITY, NEV. - The Department of the Interior and Bureau of Reclamation invite members of the press to a media availability and signing ceremony for the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plans at the iconic Hoover Dam on May 20. These completed plans are an important step toward reducing risk from ongoing drought in the Colorado River Basin and protecting the river’s water resources for riparian areas, agriculture, and more than 40 million people in the United States and Mexico who depend on it. <P> What: Media availability to discuss completed Colorado River Drought Contingency Plans <P> Who: Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Dr. Tim Petty Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman Representatives from Colorado River Basin states <P> Where: Hoover Dam Boulder City, Nev. <P> When: Monday, May 20, 2019 Media availability to begin at 4:30 p.m. PDT (Spillway House) DCP signing ceremony to begin at 5:30 p.m. PDT (Visitor Center Observation Deck) <P> Members of the press wishing to attend must RSVP no later than 11:00 a.m. on Monday, May 20 to Patti Aaron (paaron@usbr.gov) or Marlon Duke (mduke@usbr.gov). <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=66043 Reclamation will use innovative methods to control non-native plants at sites in southwest Colorado
DURANGO, COLO. - The Bureau of Reclamation, in collaboration with the Palisade Insectary and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, will apply an innovative and environmentally conscious method to control weeds this spring in wetland areas at Navajo State Park in Colorado and Simon Draw Wildlife Area in Montezuma County, Colorado. The agencies will release Russian knapweed stem gall wasps as part of an effort to control the spread and vigor of Russian knapweed, a noxious weed in Colorado harmful to native plants and wildlife. The gall wasps will only impact Russian knapweed and will not affect humans, livestock or other plant species. <P> “This approach offers an effective and low-cost complement to chemical and mechanical control of Russian knapweed. This is especially important in biologically sensitive areas, such as the wetland areas where gall wasp releases are planned,” said Ed Warner, Reclamation’s Western Colorado Area Office Manager. “These wetlands are home to a diverse number of wildlife species, including the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse.” <P> Russian knapweed is an aggressive, non-native, deep rooted perennial plant that spreads through seeds and creeping horizontal roots. Left unmanaged, Russian knapweed displaces native and desirable plant species. In addition to impacting wildlife habitat, Russian knapweed may cause neurological disorders in horses if consumed. <P> The gall wasp causes the formation of galls or abnormal growths along the stem of the Russian knapweed, resulting in nutrient diversion from flowers, seeds and growth. This significantly reduces the ability of the invasive weeds to thrive and spread. The gall wasps require little management after release, and they can easily move around an infestation through flight, wind, or by catching a ride on wildlife. <P> Gall wasps are an incredibly valuable tool for management of Russian knapweed. Impacts from the gall wasp can be seen relatively rapidly as evidenced by trials at other sites conducted by the Palisade Insectary. In as little as three growing seasons, every Russian knapweed stem at the research site was impacted and the overall vigor of the knapweed patch was diminished. <P> <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=65908 Second Bug Flow experiment to be conducted under the Glen Canyon Dam Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan
SALT LAKE CITY—The Department of the Interior will conduct a second Macroinvertebrate Production Flow this summer at Glen Canyon Dam under its Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan. This experiment, also known as a Bug Flow, aims to improve egg-laying conditions for aquatic insects that are the primary food source for fish in the Colorado River. The experiment will begin on May 1 and continue through August 31, 2019. <P> “Last year’s experiment was a big success, so we’re excited that a second year of testing will occur,” said Scott VanderKooi, Chief of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, which monitors Colorado River ecosystem response to all Glen Canyon Dam flow experiments. “By directly experimenting with flows, we were able to learn a lot about the aquatic ecosystem in Grand Canyon. More importantly, preliminary results show that many different resources may have benefitted from last year’s experimental flows.” <P> This year’s Bug Flows will slightly modify release schedules and flow rates from Lake Powell through Glen Canyon Dam, but will not affect total annual, monthly or weekly release volumes. Flows during the experiment will include relatively low, steady weekend water releases while maintaining routine hydropower production flows on weekdays. Weekday flows will be higher than normal, but hourly changes in release rates will remain unchanged. Steady weekend flows are expected to provide favorable conditions for aquatic insects to lay and cement their eggs to rocks, vegetation and other materials near the river’s edge at a low enough level that the eggs will not dry out as flows fluctuate during the week. Casual recreational river users are unlikely to notice the changes in water levels. <P> Preliminary findings show that caddisflies, an aquatic insect that has been extremely rare in the Grand Canyon over the past several decades, increased nearly four-fold during last year’s Bug Flow experiment. Non-biting midges, another type of aquatic insect that is a key food source for fish and other wildlife, were up to 800% more abundant on weekends when flows were steady compared to weekdays when flows fluctuated for hydropower production. Data collected by the Arizona Game and Fish Department showed that fishing also improved, with the average angler catching around 18% more rainbow trout at Lees Ferry during weekend steady flows compared to weekdays when flows fluctuated. <P> The decision to conduct this experiment was based on input from a collaborative team, including the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs; the Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration; the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Upper Colorado River Commission and all seven of the Colorado River Basin States. Experiments are designed to optimize benefits to the Colorado River ecosystem through the Grand Canyon while meeting water delivery requirements and minimizing negative impacts to hydropower production. <P> Insects expected to benefit from this experiment are an important food source for many species of fish, birds, and bats in the canyon. Beyond expected resource benefits, this experiment will also provide scientific information that will be used in future decision making. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=65723 Bureau of Reclamation expects above average runoff on the Rio Grande through New Mexico this Spring
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. –Irrigators, municipalities, recreation community and the overall ecosystem of the Rio Grande will experience the benefits of an above average spring runoff this year. That’s according to the Annual Operating Plan based on above average snowpack in the mountains that feed the Rio Grande and its tributaries released today by the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. <P> The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s April streamflow forecast predicts that Rio Chama flow into El Vado Reservoir will be 142% of average, up from just 18% of average last year. This is a forecast inflow of approximately 320,000 acre-feet, up from 41,000 acre-feet at the same time last year. Rio Grande streamflow at Otowi Bridge is similarly predicted to be at 142% of average. <P> “This is a complete turnaround from last year when we were preparing for drying in the Middle Rio Grande in April,” said Reclamation’s Albuquerque Area Office Manager Jennifer Faler. “We are looking forward to a good spring runoff that will improve storage supplies and help the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow spawn. Reclamation will continue to work closely with our water management partners at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, State of New Mexico, Bureau of Indian Affairs and irrigation districts to manage the Rio Grande safely and efficiently through the summer.” <P> The Rio Grande is currently operating under the Rio Grande Compact’s Article VII restrictions. Under Article VII when the combined usable Rio Grande Project storage in Elephant Butte and Caballo is below 400,000 acre-feet, storage in upstream reservoirs, like El Vado, is only allowed under limited circumstances. Reclamation expects Article VII restrictions to end in mid-May for several months, allowing for storage in El Vado during that time. Elephant Butte and Caballo Reservoirs ended the last irrigation season holding less than 3% of their combined storage capacity. They are already rebounding and are currently holding more than 288,000 acre-feet or about 13% of capacity. <P> The Elephant Butte Irrigation District, El Paso County Water Improvement District Number One and Mexico plan to begin irrigation the first week in June. Reclamation will begin releasing water from Elephant Butte to Caballo Reservoir on May 3 in preparation for the irrigation season. Releases from Caballo will begin on May 31. The dry riverbed between Elephant Butte and Caballo and below Caballo will take on water quickly. As such, it will be both unpredictable and very dangerous. The public is asked to stay out of the river channel for their safety. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=65645 Snowpack benefits Colorado River operations
BOULDER CITY, NEV. – A monthly study released today by the Bureau of Reclamation indicates this winter’s plentiful snowpack will benefit the Colorado River Basin through increased runoff to crucial reservoirs. With the improved hydrology, Lake Powell’s operation for water year 2019 will shift to a balancing release of up to 9.0 million acre-feet. Snowpack in the upper Colorado River basin is about 130 percent of average, with a forecasted April through July inflow into Lake Powell of 9.20 maf, or 128 percent of average. That above-average inflow projection is due to extremely wet conditions in the basin during February and March. Releases from Lake Powell to Lake Mead are consistent with the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and the Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead. <P> “This year’s snowpack is welcome news for the Colorado River Basin,” said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “But one good year cannot reverse the effects of nearly two decades of severe drought. Current total Colorado River System storage is approximately 45% of full capacity.” <P> Commissioner Burman continued, “Recent accomplishments like the drought contingency plans provide an important bridge to minimize risks from ongoing drought and gain valuable operating experience during the remaining period of the 2007 operating guidelines.” <P> The April 2019 24-Month Study projects Lake Mead’s January 1, 2020 elevation to be 1,084.27 feet, almost 10 feet above the shortage determination trigger of 1,075 feet. The August 2019 24-Month Study projections will be used to determine the operating tiers for Lake Powell and Lake Mead in 2020. <P> The April 2019 24-Month Study can be accessed at https://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/24mo.pdf. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=65464 Reclamation to host public meeting on Dolores Project 2019 water operations
DURANGO, COLO. - The Bureau of Reclamation will host the 2019 operations meeting for the Dolores Project on Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Dolores Community Center, 400 Riverside Avenue in Dolores, Colorado. <P> “This meeting is a great opportunity for our partners and the public to find out how the 2019 water year is shaping up and to have any related questions answered,” said Western Colorado Area Office Manager Ed Warner. <P> Meeting topics will include a review of 2018 operations, projected water supplies and runoff for 2019 and the forecasted possibility of a boatable release to the Dolores River below McPhee Dam in 2019. <P> The meeting will also include presentations and representation from several agencies, including: Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service, Dolores Water Conservancy District, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Dolores River Boating Advocates, American Whitewater and Fort Lewis College. There will be opportunities for questions, comments, and discussion during the meeting. <P> For more information, please contact Robert Stump at 970-565-7232 or rstump@usbr.gov. <P> <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=65463 Reclamation releases final Environmental Assessment for project to improve efficiency of the Aspen Canal
GRAND JUNCTION, COLO. - The Bureau of Reclamation has released a final Finding of No Significant Impact and Environmental Assessment for the Aspen Canal Piping Project located in Delta County, Colorado. The project will replace approximately 5.6 miles of open irrigation ditch in the Aspen Canal with buried pipe and install a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system at Crawford Reservoir. <P> “This project will improve efficiency of the canal with installation of a SCADA system that will allow for flow adjustments from Crawford Reservoir into the Aspen Canal,” said Ed Warner, Western Colorado Area Office Manager. “Piping the canal will prevent evaporation and seepage and will reduce salt loading, which threatens food production and drinking water quality in the lower Colorado River Basin states.” <P> The final EA/FONSI was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and is available online at www.usbr.gov/uc/envdocs/index.html, or a copy can be requested by contacting Lesley McWhirter at 970-248-0608 or lmcwhirter@usbr.gov. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=65443 Reclamation to release 2019 Annual Operating Plan for Rio Grande
ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The Bureau of Reclamation invites the public to a presentation explaining plans for Rio Grande water operations in 2019. Snowpack is close to average in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico and a good spring runoff on the Rio Grande is expected. <P> The presentation will cover the process for determining the plan for water operations; a review of 2018 water predictions, as compared to actual storage and releases; and explanation of the 2019 water forecast and potential for storage and releases. <P> What: Release of Annual Operating Plan for the Rio Grande <P> When and Where: <ul> <li>Middle Rio Grande AOP: Thursday, April 18, 2019, at 1:30 p.m. <br /> Bureau of Reclamation, 555 Broadway NE, Suite 100, Albuquerque, NM 87102. Webex available for the Albuquerque meeting, e-mail Mary Carlson at <a href="mailto:mcarlson@usbr.gov">mcarlson@usbr.gov</a> to participate.</li> <li>Rio Grande AOP: Thursday, April 25, 2019, at 1:30 p.m. <br /> El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1, 13247 Alameda Ave, Clint, TX 79836.</li> </ul> <P> Why: To learn more about the process used for determining this year’s operating plan, water forecast, water storage and potential for water storage and release. <P> How: Please contact Ms. Carlson at 505-462-3576 with any questions. If you are interested in the presentation and unable to attend either meeting, following the meeting it will be posted at <a href="https://www.usbr.gov/uc/albuq/water/aop/index.html.">https://www.usbr.gov/uc/albuq/water/aop/index.html</a>. <P> Feel free to e-mail Ms. Carlson at <a href="mailto:mcarlson@usbr.gov">mcarlson@usbr.gov</a> for more information. <P> <P> <P> <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=65286 Bureau of Reclamation is conducting a maintenance release between Elephant Butte and Caballo
ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. – The Bureau of Reclamation will release water from Elephant Butte Reservoir for a 3-day period starting on Wednesday, March 27, at 9 a.m. as part of a maintenance operation. The dry riverbed between Elephant Butte and Caballo will take on water quickly as it will begin to flow downstream. The public is asked to stay out of the river channel for their safety. <P> The operation is occurring as the reservoir reaches a specific elevation to move sediment out of the sluice gateway. Reclamation will release between 700 and 1000 cubic feet per second of water through the gate. <P> The sluice gate will be closed at 3 p.m. on Friday and the channel will then begin drying until May when water movement begins in preparation for the start of the irrigation season. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=65203 Bureau of Reclamation finalizes Green River Water Rights Exchange with the state of Utah
ST. GEORGE, UTAH – The Bureau of Reclamation and state of Utah held a ceremony today to sign the Green River Water Rights Exchange contract. Under the terms of the contract, the state agrees to forbear its right to deplete water from the Green River and its tributaries, enabling Reclamation to meet Endangered Species Act flow requirements. In exchange, the state of Utah will receive an equal amount of water released from Flaming Gorge Dam. The contract provides assistance in meeting flow and temperature requirements for the recovery of endangered fish, and allows Reclamation to continue operations in compliance with the 2006 Record of Decision. <P> Representatives from Reclamation and the state completed negotiations on the proposed agreement last year, and Reclamation recently completed a subsequent National Environmental Policy Act review, which resulted in a Finding of No Significant Impact. This agreement is specific to the Green River Block of the state’s previously-assigned Central Utah Project Ultimate Phase water right. It is not related to the state’s proposed Lake Powell Pipeline project. <P> “This water exchange contract represents a successful and productive partnership between the State of Utah and the federal government,” said Reclamation’s Upper Colorado Regional Director Brent Rhees. “A partnership aimed at providing maximum value from available water resources.” <P> “We appreciate our partnership with Reclamation and the hard work of our respective teams during this process,” said Eric Millis, director of the Utah Division of Water Resources. “These agreements bring considerable value to the State of Utah by providing a reliable water source and benefiting the in-stream flows of the Green and Colorado Rivers.” <P> The contract between Reclamation and the state of Utah permits the state to put a portion of their water right to beneficial use and provides a more reliable water source for Utah during dry years, while avoiding the need to construct costly new water storage facilities. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=65183 Bureau of Reclamation to finalize Green River Water Rights Exchange with state of Utah at signing ceremony
SAINT GEORGE, Utah – The Bureau of Reclamation and state of Utah will join in a signing ceremony to formalize an agreement for the Green River Water Rights Exchange contract. This agreement exchanges the state’s assigned Green River water right for use of Colorado River Storage Project water from Flaming Gorge Dam. Representatives from the state and Reclamation completed negotiations on the proposed agreement last year and Reclamation recently completed a subsequent National Environmental Policy Act review, which resulted in a Finding of No Significant Impact. <P> This agreement is specific to the Green River Block of the state’s previously-assigned Central Utah Project Ultimate Phase water right. It is not related to the state’s proposed Lake Powell Pipeline project. <P> When: Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at 8:00 a.m. (MDT) <P> Where: Dixie Convention Center, Entrada BC Room, 1835 S Convention Center Dr., St. George, Utah <P> Members of the media are invited to attend. Representatives from the state of Utah and Reclamation will be briefly available following the contract signing to answer questions from media representatives. <P> Live stream or other remote participation options are not available for this event. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=65043 Reclamation to hold public meeting to discuss improvements at Big Sandy Reservoir
FARSON, WYOMING – The Bureau of Reclamation will hold a public meeting in Farson, Wyoming on March 26 to solicit comments regarding the environmental impacts of the Big Sandy Reservoir Enlargement Project. The meeting will be held at the Eden Valley Community Center on March 26 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at 4039 Highway 191 in Farson. Members of the public may also submit comments via email to jbaxter@usbr.gov. <P> The Big Sandy Reservoir Enlargement Project would enhance the reservoir by: <P> • Raising the spillway crest five feet • Installing a filter diaphragm around the outlet works • Constructing a cement-bentonite wall through the dike, <P> In addition, raising the spillway crest would firm up the water supply by increasing potential storage in Big Sandy Reservoir by 12,900 acre-feet. <P> Reclamation has developed a draft environmental assessment that considers the possible impacts of enlarging the reservoir. This document addresses potential impacts to hydrology, recreation, fish and wildlife, and endangered species. <P> <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=64923 Earthquake reported at the Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility
GRAND JUNCTION, COLO. – The U.S. Geological Survey reported that an earthquake occurred at 10:22 a.m. MST, on Monday, March 4, 2019, near Reclamation’s Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility near Bedrock, Colorado. Reclamation maintains a comprehensive network of seismic monitoring instruments in the area, which indicated a preliminary magnitude 4.1 for this earthquake. The quake was felt by employees at the Reclamation facility and residents in surrounding areas. <P> The Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility injects highly pressurized, concentrated salt water (brine) into a 16,000-foot-deep well, preventing the brine from entering the Dolores River. The well was not operating at the time of the earthquake due to routine maintenance. Operations will not resume until Reclamation completes a thorough assessment of the situation. <P> High-pressure brine injection has been known to trigger small earthquakes in the past, and today’s event was within the range of previously induced earthquakes. Reclamation’s seismic network in the area monitors the location, magnitude and frequency around the Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility. Reclamation will continue using that network to monitor earthquakes in the area. <P> The Paradox Valley Salinity Control Facility substantially benefits downstream water quality in the Colorado River Basin, and helps the United States meet treaty obligations with Mexico for allowable salinity levels in the river. Historically, the Dolores River picked up an estimated 205,000 tons of salt annually as it passed through the Paradox Valley. Since the mid-1990s much of this salt has been collected by the Paradox Valley Salinity Control Unit in shallow wells along the Dolores River and then injected into deep subsurface geologic formations. The deep well injection program removes about 95,000 tons of salt annually from the Dolores and Colorado rivers. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=64043 Reclamation releases draft Environmental Assessment for Clipper Center Lateral Pipeline Project
GRAND JUNCTION, COLO. - The Bureau of Reclamation has released a draft Finding of No Significant Impact and Environmental Assessment on the Clipper Center Lateral Pipeline Project located in Delta County, Colorado. The project would replace approximately 4.3 miles of open irrigation ditch with buried pipe. The purpose of the project is to prevent seepage and reduce salinity loading in the Colorado River Basin. <P> The draft FONSI and EA is available online at www.usbr.gov/uc/envdocs/index.html or a copy can be requested by contacting Reclamation. <P> Reclamation will consider all comments received by Monday, January 21, 2019. Submit comments by email to lmcwhirter@usbr.gov or to: Ed Warner, Area Manager, Bureau of Reclamation, 445 West Gunnison Ave, Suite 221, Grand Junction, CO 81501. <P>
http://www.usbr.gov/newsroom/newsrelease/detail.cfm?RecordID=63984 Reclamation solicits proposals for hydropower development at Silver Jack Dam
GRAND JUNCTION, COLO. - The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking proposals to lease the right to develop hydroelectric power at Silver Jack Dam, part of the Bostwick Park Project, located near Montrose, Colorado, under a Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP). <P> A LOPP is a contractual right given to a non-Federal entity to use a Reclamation facility for electric power generation consistent with Reclamation project purposes. The LOPP program promotes renewable hydropower energy development on Reclamation owned facilities and allows non-Federal entities to take advantage of existing infrastructure where there is potential to generate clean, renewable energy. Reclamation will collect a portion of the revenue generated by the hydropower project to be credited to the project to help cover current or future project expenses. LOPPs do not exceed 40 years. <P> Guidelines for submitting proposals must be followed and are available in a Federal Register Notice (83 FR 64871) located at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2018-12-18/pdf/2018-27299.pdf. No Federal funds will be available for this hydroelectric power development. <P> The potential lessee must submit a written proposal and seven copies on or before 4:00 p.m. Friday, May 17, 2019. A proposal will only be considered if it is received at or before 4:00 p.m. on the designated date. Late proposals will not be considered. <P> Proposals can be sent or delivered to Ed Warner, Area Manager, Bureau of Reclamation, 445 West Gunnison Ave, Suite 221, Grand Junction, CO 81501. <P> Technical data, including water release patterns, may be obtained by contacting Ryan Christianson at rchristianson@usbr.gov or 970-248-0652. <P>