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Kevin Moloney

River in Oregon—which was knotted in controversy for years surrounding impacts to salmon—and other regions.

lest the next winter bring drought—and heightened dependence on stored water. Memories of 1977 and 1981 were still fresh in their minds when 2002 arrived, seared and parched. Colorado River flows Consensus on releases fell to just 60 cfs downstream of the Cameo Hydrologist Jana Mohrman has representdiversions. Ditches had more water, but ed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on not a lot until a timely rain in late August. the Phone Call since 2008. She confides “People were running crippled,” says Phil that she was “scared to death” when she Bertrand, superintendent of the Grand was first assigned to the project. But with Valley Irrigation Company. the aid of others, she has grown more comThe decision about when water from fortable in her role and finds it rewarding these upstream federal reservoirs will be after 20 years of modeling water needs at released for the fish is the hardest part of wildlife refuges. “It’s real, hands-on operathe Phone Call. “That really is something tion,” she says. “There are consequences. to which all parties must agree,” says Dan It’s not all theoretical.” Luecke, who represents two environmenVoluntary—but essential—are large voltal groups, Western Resource Advocates umes of spring runoff. The large flows scour and The Nature Conservancy. He believes gravel beds of mud and algae, making room that after 16 years irrigators have become for invertebrates—the fishes’ food—to surmore comfortable with the releases for fish vive. The high flows also strip river vegetaand, partly because of Congressional approtion, keeping the channel clean so it acts priations that paid for millions of dollars in more like a river and less like a ditch. Last infrastructure to help protect fish, they do U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hydrologist Jana year was an unlikely one for big water. The Mohrman sets target flows for endangered fish. not see protecting the species as onerous. snowpack was 71 percent of normal on May Mohrman also reports revised atti1. But because of the flows coordinated by Mohrman and water providers, coupled with a fortuitous warm spell, tudes. “I think it was combative at the beginning, but now we’re collaborative, working together—although sometimes there are still the peak runoff was the third highest in 20 years. For July and August last year, Mohrman set target flows of issues at Basalt.” 1,240 cfs for the 15-Mile Reach, which she scaled back to 1,000 cfs in September. In meeting these targets, water users have agreed Fish flows and other river users to deliver 10,825 acre feet annually, split evenly between the Front Along with endangered fish, Basalt and the Fryingpan River that Range and West Slope. Some water comes from the Colorado River runs through it represent a significant shift in Colorado River uses District’s Wolford Mountain Reservoir and Denver’s Williams Fork in the last 40 years. From the town to Ruedi Reservoir, peachReservoir, but far more comes from the two federal reservoirs—Ruedi colored sandstone in the background, lies 14 miles of lovely flybut especially Green Mountain, which has an allotment called the fishing river. But in August 2009, Mohrman asked for more water historic users pool. That pool is intended to benefit those holding than usual to be released from Ruedi Reservoir to benefit the decrees for domestic and irrigation water prior to October 1977, and endangered fish, as water from Green Mountain was not yet availthose beneficiaries must declare a surplus in the pool before water able. When flows in the Fryingpan below the dam hovered at 500 cfs for more than a week, fishing guides were outraged. Mohrman can be released for the fish. In the beginning, Grand Valley irrigators tended toward cau- went to Basalt three times to meet with guides. The next year, tion, protesting release of water from these upstream reservoirs Ruedi Reservoir released a maximum of 256 cfs in late summer.

Did you know this river runs dry? Find out where exactly, and learn how this life-giving river supports 30 million people across the West.

In this full-color, coffee table book, follow a drop of water, source to sea, down the mighty “American Nile.” With award-winning photography and authoritative prose, McBride and Waterman illuminate the historical, geographical, and environmental significance of the Colorado—one of the most dammed and diverted, loved and litigated rivers in the world. “A photo essay that tears at your heart as it inspires us all to do more … to save this great river and return her to the natural magnificence that is her birthright.”

—Explore Booksellers

O R D E R N O W AT:

www.petemcbride.com Headwaters | Summer 2011

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Profile for Water Education Colorado

Headwaters Summer 2011: The Mighty Colorado  

As the Colorado River flows through its seven-state, canyon carving traverse, it is tapped and retapped-- supporting acres of irrigated agri...

Headwaters Summer 2011: The Mighty Colorado  

As the Colorado River flows through its seven-state, canyon carving traverse, it is tapped and retapped-- supporting acres of irrigated agri...

Profile for cfwe