Skip to main content

Weekly water roundup: Water board approves Pitkin County water lease to supplement instream flows



Short takes from the last couple of weeks in Colorado water:

Roaring Fork instream flows agreement approved

The first lease of water rights for instream flows under 2008 legislation (HB 08-1280) was approved last week by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The board is the only entity in Colorado that can legally hold water rights for instream flows. Prior to HB 08-1280 water leases to the CWBCB to enhance the riparian environment or fisheries were not considered a consumptive use and therefore water rights were not protected from abandonment claims.

Pitkin County holds water rights from Maroon Creek via the Stapleton Ditch which used to irrigate the land under Aspen's airport. The revocable trust was negotiated by the Colorado Water Trust.

California Gulch/Yak Tunnel superfund site update

Back when the Environmental Protection Agency first started planning the cleanup of the superfund site many in Lake County and Leadville insisted on the preservation of tailings piles so to preserve the historical look and feel of the mining district. However, uncovered tailings piles contribute to acid mine drainage into the Arkansas River near its headwaters.

Recently the public got to see the results of a pilot project which hopes to cap the tailings with shotcrete colored to resemble the tailings. The agency is testing the method with and without impervious liners.

Colorado River streamflow sets record low for November 16

Flows in the Colorado River recently set a record of only 280 cubic feet per second. The previous record low flow for that date was 330 cfs. The water commissioner for the reach, Scott Hummer, was baffled, telling the Summit Daily News that, "I can't find a rhyme or reason as to why we're starting to see these low flows so early in the season."

Colorado releases final report on Alamosa salmonella outbreak

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment released their report last week, blaming aging infrastructure and bird droppings for the contamination. Chlorine dosing takes care of the problem.

After the findings were known the department started yanking most of the exceptions to chlorination granted to other systems around the state.


Yuma topped 20 inches of precipitation for the year. The community in eastern Colorado is traditionally a little wetter than the front range.

For more information: I cover Colorado water issues at Coyote Gulch.