Water district hosts ‘State of the River’ meeting in Rangely

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RANGELY | The Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District (RBWCD) held a community networking meeting May 28 on the “State of the River.”

Did you know that an estimated 916,000 Colorado recreational anglers account for $8.2 million in state economic impact? These statistics and more were presented by the Rangely 4-H Sportfishing program. Six club members ranging in age from 8-12 spoke about their upcoming fishing derby fundraiser on June 29 at Kenney Reservoir.  They also shared information about the three units of learning they progress through in the Colorado 4-H Sportfishing Program: aquatic ecology, recognizing the importance of water quality for fish habitat, making tackle, and learning different fishing styles and methods, just to name a few.    

RBWCD District Manager Al Vanden Brink updated the crowd about the White River Storage Project. The four main points of his presentation included: the Town of Rangely has no water storage for drought protection; more than half of Kenney Reservoir (300 acre feet of storage per year) has been lost to siltation; and open water recreation at Kenney Reservoir could be gone in 10 years. At this time, any future White River water development will be nearly impossible due to adverse affects on endangered White River fish. 

In 2019 RBWCD is focused on the pre-permitting work for the reservoir.

Tristan Nielsen, district manager for White River and Douglas Creek Conservation districts, spoke about the White River algae study. 

In 2018, 20 sites along the White River were randomly selected for the study. Historical stream flow analysis shows a decreasing trend in flow patterns since 1900. The water temperature data indicated increasing daily mean temperature. Several types of algae were present at each study site and Cladophora (the problem algae) was found at all 20 sites. Colorado Parks and Wildlife studies are ongoing but they found that Salmonid populations in the upper White River are not proven to be declining. For more information about the algae bloom studies you can visit www.whiterivercd.com.

The keynote was delivered by Andy Mueller, general manager of the Colorado Water Conservation District. Mueller spoke at length about encroachment on Western Slope water. 

The Colorado River District is advocating for the protection of Western Slope communities. Water curtailment must be voluntary, temporary and compensated and conserved water must remain in Upper Basin Control. He reported about the Upper Basin Drought Contingency Planning and their use of cloud seeding and phreatophyte removal. The goals and benefits for the Upper Basin are to decrease risk of losing power production at Glen Canyon Dam. They hope to have a non-equalized storage account in Lake Powell, free of charge. 

Those goals increase the Colorado River District’s ability to maintain compact compliance.

Mueller invited interested parties to attend the annual water seminar on Sept. 18 in Grand Junction.

By Roxie Fromang | Special to the Herald Times