Top Colorado Water News: June 1-18

We’re going to try to not say the word drought at all in this installment of Top Colorado Water News, but heads up, that doesn’t leave us much to call out. Summer kicks off officially this week — with infernal weather, low river flows and nary a drop of rain in the forecast. Still, there are a couple of watery goings on in Colorado that should be on your radar, such as the potential increase of water storage at Chatfield Reservoir and the ongoing battle for ski area water concessions. And if you want to know the latest about the d.r.o.u.g.h.t., read this post on the extreme conditions affecting 10 percent of Colorado. And for good measure, check out this good Coyote Gulch story on how the water shortage is affecting Colorado’s farmers.

Chatfield’s Water Levels May Rise — Is That A Good Thing?
Federal engineers have proposed adding 8,539 acre-feet of water a year to Chatfield Reservoir, which captures runoff from the South Platte River, reports the Denver Post. The Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation project would make further use of the existing reservoir by increasing storage at Chatfield to meet the growing water supply needs within the South Platte River Basin. Here’s the rub: This would inundate the popular recreational park with 12 additional feet of water, wiping out facilities and habitat for migratory birds. The Audubon Society has already released statements opposing the move, but the governor’s office and many others in Colorado are leaning toward seeing the project through. As Scott Roush with Colorado Parks and Wildlife said during a CFWE Tour of the South Metro Basin on Thursday, “it’s going to change the look for awhile,” but the EIS includes restoration efforts so that eventually the park will again become the wonderful wildlife habitat and recreational facility that it is today. “Our goal with Colorado Parks and Wildlife is to be able to have a great recreational area like we have today after the reallocation so we can have those same recreational opportunities that we have today,” Roush said. The proposal is currently in a 60-day public comment period. What do you think? Comment on this post to tell us whether you think adding water to the reservoir is a good or bad idea and why.

Ski Areas Fight for Their (Water) Rights
Ski resorts call it a grab for water rights worth millions. The Forest Service says the ski industry’s concessions violate Colorado law. Which party is right? The litigation, which pits groups such as the Colorado River Water Conservation District against the National Ski Areas Association, seeks to permit water rights that originate on national forest lands to the United States — versus to the owners of the land concessions, i.e. the state’s ski areas. Read the Summit County Citizens Voice overview of the issue.

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