2008 South Platte Protection Plan Annual Meeting - Mountain Buzz

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Old 05-14-2008   #1
Caspian's Avatar
Englewood, Colorado
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2008 South Platte Protection Plan Annual Meeting

Hey all - below is an update from today's 4th Annual Operations Board Meeting for the SPPP, followed by a long set of notes I took there for those interested in more details.

I will be posting PROJECTED flows that Denver Water relays throughout the season. Because of the big snowpack, the NFSP will run less this year and there will be more water from the SFSP, so we may be posting anticipated flows for that as well. Please remember, these are in no way a promise or guarantee from DW, but rather a most likely scenario. If you drive from Salida and Bailey turns out to be at 120, there's always Hog Heaven, the Bucksnort and the ATF store...but that doesn't seem to have been a problem in the past. Summary and meeting notes are below. Sorry about the appearance, the Buzz text editor won't take MSWord formatting. PM me if you want a Word copy, or if someone can host it and we can link to it, that would be great.

P.S. I don't have much more knowledge than is posted below, but will try to answer whatever questions I can in the evenings (can't post at work). I expect there will be a questions about the USB/Gross Reservoir expansion.


The 4th annual South Platte Protection Plan operations board meeting was May 14, 2008. The SPPP is essentially a regimen agreed to by the various stakeholders in the SP basin and was essentially a compromise which prevented the Two Forks Dam from inundating large portions of the basin and resulted in the river not being designated as a National Wild & Scenic River. The stakeholders work in partnership to meet the water consumption, recreation and conservation demands. Many of them are also involved in the process of creating water sources to replace the Two Forks Dam. My full notes from the meeting are below, but here is the short version:

* The Roberts Tunnel will be releasing less this season due to the heavy snowpack in the SP watershed. This means fewer and lower flows on Bailey and Foxton should be expected.

* The SFSP will have a better year, and flows have already hit 900 cfs this year (though they should be expected to fluctuate at lower levels through the summer).

* I discussed with the DW representative the possiblity of structuring flows on the NF to maximize boating potential. Unfortunately, DW is unable to regularly structure Roberts Tunnel flows for boating because of logistical reasons (see below) but will try to increase flows on weekends as they have in the past.

* DW will continue to provide information to the whitewater community about NFSP flows and this year we may also be relating SFSP flows as well, since the lower releases out of Roberts Tunnel will mean increased releases from Cheeseman Dam (Deckers/Waterton runs).

* Part of the deal when Two Forks Dam was stopped was that the parties had to develop other sources to get the water that would not be produced from TFD, and would do so within 20 years. Alternatives to the Two Forks Dam continue to be considered, including the expansion of Gross Reservoir. This would result in the inundation of at least some of USB. See the notes below for more on this, as it may become a huge issue for the whitewater community. The proposed expansion would result in the last 120 vertical feet of USB being inundated. Since I hiked out after an early chundering, I don't personally know if the last 120 vertical feet (about 1/2 mile of the current creek) have good rapids.

As with last year, I will post weekend flows on the NFSP and SFSP when available from Denver Water throughout the summer.

Notes are in the next post in the thread.

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Old 05-14-2008   #2
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Englewood, Colorado
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SPPP and SP Planning Taskforce Meeting Notes


South Platte Protection Plan – 4th Annual Operations Meeting May 14, 2008

1. Denver Water – Dave Bennett
a. 2008 Predictions
i. Great snowpack – 113% statewide, 104% in South Platte; peaked at April 18-19
ii. Watershed status
1. Antero – full and spilling all year
2. 11 Mile – full and spilling all year
3. Cheeseman – has already reached over 900 cfs flows this spring; it was filled already, but now lowered 10K acre-feet, will re-fill and start spilling, but it needs to be drawn down 10 vertical feet by fall, though – this will unfortunately reduce Roberts Tunnel flows because the NF and SF flows must be balanced to reach the proper inflow into Strontia Springs Reservoir; this will result in good flows on the SFSP below Cheeseman Dam, on the Deckers run and in Waterton Canyon above Strontia
4. Roberts Tunnel – lesser flows this year, but DW will try to increase weekend flows when possible to augment boating opportunities

b. 2007 Review
i. Cheeseman flushing flows were done last spring to clean out Hayman Fire sediment, 900 cfs for a week – no problems reported from any sources; in the future, plans for dredging Strontia Springs Reservoir
ii. Cheeseman peaked at 700 cfs and was spilling good May –September; temps were kept between 50-60 degrees almost entire summer
iii. 11 Mile – tested new valves for a day in April 2007 – spiked to 360 cfs; maintained optimum 50-60 degree temps for most of season
iv. Roberts Tunnel – maintained optimal recreational flows of 300-500 cfs for mist of June and July; generally boatable flows (over 200 cfs) were had through mid-August, with a peak of about 650 cfs
v. Roberts Tunnel structural releases will not be plausible, simply by virtue of the ramping guidelines required for fish habitat and that fact that the flows must be adjusted manually; however, when possible, DW will attempt to increase flows on weekends to increase flows for boating; communication with Mountainbuzz will continue regarding weekend flows from the Tunnel, and we will try to pass on info about the South Fork flows about of Cheeseman, since that is where the bulk of the water will be coming from this year.

2. Aurora Water Resources
a. 2008 Predictions
i. Spinney Reservoir expected to release 100-200 cfs during the summer

3. South Platte Fisheries – Jeff Spohn, DOW
a. Data may show that young-of-the-year brown and rainbow trout have a bumper season if 11 Mile release stays below 150 cfs through July, but this is still under research; may be able to increase potential for these species in future years
b. New Zealand Mud Snails – invasive species found in 11 Mile in 2004; population is dropping, but still present; no documented effect on fish population but this is still under research
c. Cheeseman Canyon (a/k/a Wildcat Canyon) – lots of sediment bars remain from Hayman fire runoff, so fishing habitat remains scant (river is like “water running over a gravel road”); results in big sediment deposits in Cheeseman Reservoir, which ultimately is saving the fishing downstream
d. Deckers Area – still seeing sediment bars at lower flows, but fish habitat remains; rainbow and brown trout population is about at what it was before the Hayman and Schoonover Fires, but fish are slightly smaller

4. South Platte Enhancement Board Update – Rick McLoud
a. Grant money is available for 2008 to maintain the outstanding values of the watershed from Bailey to Strontia and from Cheeseman to Strontia; contact Rick for further information

5. Recreation Update – Neil Sperandeo (not present)
a. Zebra Mussel issues – invasive species at Antero and 11 Mile, they are threatening the habitat of the species which trout feed on – both of these reservoirs are closed to all boats, period, until there is funding for a screening program to check boats for the mussels; predicted that this will happen for all boats at these places in the future; hope is that funding will be there in July, but no guarantee; this boat closure does not apply to 11 Mile Canyon below the reservoir, but if you bring the species in on your boat, it will end up getting down into Cheeseman Reservoir as well – best practice is to keep your boat clean and dry – treat the same as for the New Zealand Mud Snail issue


Purpose: To plan alternative sources to develop yield that would otherwise have come from the Two Forks Dam water right – if alternate yields are developed during the 20-year moratorium on the Dam, then the Two Forks right would likely be abandoned. Focus is on conservation, recycling and new sources. The new source projects presently under consideration include:

1. Gross Reservoir Expansion (presented by Travis from DW)
a. Expansion of 72K acre-feet – this presently is the preferred option
i. Projected start would be in 2013, 18K acre-feet yield (15K to Denver, 3K to Arvada)
ii. In 2016, demand will exceed supply of water and because demand is still rising, by 2030, shortfall is expected to be 34K acre-feet, with the remaining 16K to be recovered through conservation
iii. Cost estimated at $8,000 per acre-foot
iv. At this time, this is the preferred option under consideration, but no application has been submitted to the Corps of Engineers
v. This expansion would extend the Reservoir upstream from present headwaters boundary, inundating portion of lower USB
vi. Current spillway is at elevation of 7282 feet, new one would be at 7400 feet, extending the Reservoir about ½ mile up into USB; you can see where this is by finding the where this contour line intersects with the creek on a topo map
vii. Draft EIS is expected probably in September – that is when further information will be available and comment period will open
b. Gross & Liden Reservoirs combined enlargement
c. 52K enlargement of Gross Reservoir plus 5K acre-feet of storage in gravel pits
d. 52K enlargement of Gross Reservoir plus 5K acre-feet of storage in aquifers under Denver
e. 60K enlargement of Gross Reservoir plus additional storage of purchased agricultural water
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Old 05-15-2008   #3
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Thanks Caspian!
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