Meeting for Avery water

CWP area manager Bill de Vergie held a public meeting to discuss releasing water from Lake Avery into the White River to protect the fisheries.

CWP area manager Bill de Vergie held a public meeting to discuss releasing water from Lake Avery into the White River to protect the fisheries.
MEEKER I Because of low water flows and high water temperatures in the White River, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) held a public roundtable discussion regarding the release of water from Lake Avery into the White River.
“Our goal is to protect the fish in the White River,” Bill de Vergie, area manager for the CPW, said at the meeting held at Mountain Valley Bank. The meeting was attended by local water users, including water commissioner Bill Dunham, local ditch operators David Smith, Kelly Sheridan and Don Hilkey, as well as Scott Hummer of the Colorado Water Trust and Erin Light, the Division 6 engineer.
According to de Vergie, the CPW, who owns the storage water rights in Lake Avery, would like to release 10-15cfs into the White River to alleviate the drought-like conditions currently threatening the fisheries in the White River but a “handshake” agreement with the water users to leave the released water in the river was needed and agreed upon at the meeting, as it was in 2002 when the White River faced similar conditions.
Flows have been as low as 20cfs and the CPW has asked anglers to not fish when the water temperature reaches 65 degrees. A flash flood last week dumped several inches of sediment into the river near the K/K Ranch, suffocating many fish.
“The sediment load from that storm hammered the entomology and spawn and the only answer is a big snow pack and spring runoff next year,” said Bill Wheeler of Elk Creek Ranch, who was thankful for everyone’s cooperation. “I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve been looking at it for 40 years. We are happy to participate in the solution.”
Part of the solution will include working with the U.S. Geological Survey to install a gauging station at the Elk Creek bridge, approximately one mile below where the released water from Lake Avery will enter the White River, at a cost of $18,500, which Wheeler said he would pay to get the equipment operational.
The gauging station at the Elk Creek bridge will give a baseline for water flows and temperatures to compare with readings to be taken at the gauging station located near the bridge on RBC Road 4, below the ditch intakes, so the effect of the release can be monitored.
Local ditch users have decreased their current use in preparation for haying season, which has helped increase water flows in the White River and the CPW hopes to use the 10-14 day reprieve to install the gauge at the Elk Creek bridge, to better study the effects of the water released.
“What you are doing here tonight is impressive and should be followed in other basins,” Hummer said of the cooperative effort.
“It’s a great proactive move on your part,” Wheeler told de Vergie. “Thank you all.”
“Everybody wants to do the right thing for the fisheries,” de Vergie said. “This is a prime example of everybody working together, all giving a little to benefit the whole.”