With the Colorado River flowing about one sixth of normal in Palisade, a local group is working to purchase water from Ruedi Reservoir near Basalt to shore up the streamflow.
The river was flowing through Palisade at 220 cubic feet per second Wednesday, according to the U.S. Geologic Survey, compared to the median flow for July 21, 1,580 cfs.
The low streamflow is threatening to impact endangered fish recovery through the 15-mile portion, a stretch of the Colorado that begins east of Grand Junction and ends at the Gunnison River, according to the Colorado Water Trust.
Because the low water levels could hurt the fish, the Colorado Water Trust, in partnership with the Orchard Mesa Irrigation District and Grand Valley Water Users Association, is buying 1,200 acre feet (391 million gallons) out of Reudi Reservoir to offset the low streamflow, according to a press release.
According to the release, the water will flow to the 15-Mile Reach from Ruedi Reservoir through the Frying Pan River, Roaring Fork River and Colorado River.
The water will help support four endangered fish species, according to the release: the Colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub, bonytail and razorback sucker.
“The drought we are facing, due in large part to climate change, forces us to find creative solutions to keep our rivers flowing, with all that means for the communities — both of aquatic animals and people — that live along or in them,” said Andy Schultheiss, executive cirector of the Colorado Water Trust, in the release.
This is the third time in three years this type of emergency water purchase has been made for the 15-mile reach.
, according to the release.
“Progress in recovering the Colorado River’s endangered fish has long relied on collaborative efforts among the many entities that manage and use the river’s water,” Don Anderson, Hydrologist and Instream Flow Coordinator for the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, said in the release.
Other partners in the purchase include the Colorado River District, town of Palisade, Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program and the Bureau of Reclamation, according to the release, with funding also provided by Coca-Cola, Intel, the Walton Family Foundation, Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Lyda Hill Philanthropies.