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Wildlife Commissioners Review Reservoir Plans

Jackie Shumaker, courtesy of Denver Water
Denver Water has proposed enlarging Gross Reservoir to store about 114,000 acre-feet of water as part of its Moffat Collection System Project.

The clock is ticking for Colorado wildlife commissioners as they review plans that aim to preserve stream conditions from the impact of two proposed reservoir projects.

Denver Water has proposed enlarging Gross Reservoir in Boulder County. Meanwhile Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District wants to build a reservoir southwest of Loveland. Both projects would use water they currently own, but the process requires that they apply for a permit to use it.

Conservation groups like Trout Unlimited worry the change would further impact an already compromised situation in the Upper Colorado River.

“We’re concerned that not adequate mitigation is being proposed to let waters flow occasionally to do a periodic flush of the river,” said Kirk Klancke, president of Colorado Rivers Headwater Chapter.

Randy Hampton, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said wildlife commissioners are concerned, too.

“... but their concern is constrained to the aquatic impacts that these particular projects will have on the current state” he said.

Both projects have also submitted enhancement proposals that will be reviewed on a separate timeline. These plans look at additional measures that could be taken during low-flow months.

Wildlife commissioners have until early June to review the mitigation plans, and will then make their recommendations to the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The state will eventually submit a position to federal officials, who will ultimately decide on permits for the projects.