To keep pace with Colorado's growing population and projected future water demand, Denver Water
and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District
are proposing to develop new, annual firm yield from existing West Slope water rights that will be delivered to the Front Range. Under state law
, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission
is asked to review plans developed by proponents of new water projects that would mitigate impacts to fish and wildlife resources.
The Commission, following a 60-day review, unanimously voted June 9, 2011, to approve the two utilities' mitigation and enhancement plans. Commissioner's also authorized the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Denver and Northern to implement these plans once they obtain final federal permits.
Denver Water's preferred alternative for the Moffat Collection System Project would firm 18,000 additional acre-feet of water per year from the existing upper Colorado River water rights for storage in Gross Reservoir in Boulder County. The plan calls for enlarging Gross Reservoir from its current storage capacity of 41,811 acre-feet to approximately 114,000 acre-feet.
Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District's preferred alternative for the Windy Gap Firming Project would firm 30,000 acre-feet each year from the upper Colorado River by storing it in a new reservoir to be constructed west of Carter Lake in Larimer County. The proposed Chimney Hollow Reservoir will have a storage capacity of 90,000 acre-feet.
Each project must receive a federal 404 (b) permit for Front Range reservoir construction. In addition to the 404 (b) permit, Northern Water must also receive permission to use U.S Bureau of Reclamation facilities for the transfer of water to their proposed Chimney Hollow Reservoir. Both Denver Water and Northern are developing mitigation plans to address fish and wildlife impacts.
Colorado state statute gives the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission the opportunity to review fish and wildlife mitigation plans and work with the proponents to ensure that the plans adequately address project impacts on fish and wildlife resources. See the mitigation memo to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission . The CPW's goal is to identify habitat management actions that will ensure a functioning river that supports fish and wildlife given anticipated future flow conditions.
Restoring the river to a past condition is beyond the scope of the project approval process and Parks and Wildlife Commission authority. However, both Denver Water and Northern have elected to submit plans for enhancing existing conditions on the upper Colorado and Fraser rivers in addition to mitigation of their projects' impact to fish and wildlife resources on both sides of the Continental Divide.
On this page, you’ll find information and resources related to the Parks and Wildlife Commission process.