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God Amongst Men
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Filling out the survey, but just curious....

Is there any sort of recreational input taken into account with these creeks/rivers at all? These are such small watercourses, and they are so tightly controlled by irrigation and mining interests, is the greater recreating public even given a thought when scripting out the flows in this basin? I've always felt like the flows in this basin were from either a ) too much snowmelt, b ) too much rain, or c ) whatever trickle is left over from all the various dams and irrigation siphons, and I'll happily input more data for the equation, but I just wonder if this is an area where the recreational crowd is kinda just going to stay on the back burner? Not trying to provoke anyone or anything, just genuine curious. I mean, it goes without saying we'd all love to see more flows on Cottonwood, Left Fork, the Boxes, etc.....but with the fickle nature of the basin's water, and it's pre-existing control by water companies and mining companies, the question is not will it ever be, but could that even be a possibility? Thanks for letting us help out.
 

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It seems like the description of the San Rafael Flow Study clearly states the purpose of the data collection;
"American Whitewater needs your help to define flows that provide the best whitewater boating opportunities for the San Rafael. This survey is designed so individuals can evaluate flows for the Little Grand Canyon and Black Box's sections of the river, which will then help American Whitewater describe how flows affect recreation quality, and to identify the range of flows necessary to support whitewater recreation experiences, from technical low water to challenging high water trips. The information you provide, will help us protect and enhance flows for river-based recreational opportunities. Hence, tell us what level you like the best and we will do our best to meet that collective target. Without user data, AW has no chips to bargain with.

Yeti- Maybe I am misinterpreting what you are asking for, but it seems that the surveys will likely be used to address your specific concerns. Regardless of the the other stakeholders and players affecting water in the drainage, AW is the advocate for recreational boating. Thanks Evan, for the survey opportunity!
 

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"...to protect and enhance flows..."

Enhancing something means to make it better. Making flows "better" means more flow, or longer flow, or, more and longer flow. So for any time that there isn't excess water (like I mentioned above), I guess in a simple way is, what user is going to get the short end of the straw to accommodate a recreational release, or an increase in downstream flows to allow for boating? In a lot of years in these drainages there just isnt much to go around period, and almost every drop of it gets used one way or another. If you add another user to that (x) amount of water, you've got to wrestle that water away from another user. Not every year, but many years. Who's going to play nice and give the river runners some water? Irrigators? The coal minesr/power plants? Again, not trying to rile anything, just trying to better understand what would need to happen for AW to find a way through with this. And no offense to anyone, but not slogans about "enhancing viability through cooperation and dedication to maximization of water assets", let's talk hard facts here. You've got (x) amount of water divided between (y) number of users, who each have different levels of seniority and weight. So now you change the equation by adding another user, those little numbers that everyone gets from your new (x)....is everyone's now going to be different? Or is someone else's share of that new (x) going to decrease as the new rec user's share increases? Who's going to give up their water to support recreational releases or an increase/continuation of flow for rec?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the line of questioning and the interest in what we are doing with these flow studies guys. We attempt to collect this data for a number of reasons but the "protect and enhance flows," does pretty much sum up our goals. Yeti, I think you are getting stuck on the enhance, which though not impossible is probably agreed a long shot in this case. We are not however always trying to do both, enhance and protect.

For many of these stretches the main goal is to identify and document current flow regimes as they match up with days where there is enough flow to paddle at various levels, minimum, optimum and high. This gives us a baseline for negotiating to protect the current amount of "boatable days," when new water projects looking to draw more water for irrigation or mining or municipalities pop up. New projects generally have to mitigate for recreational impacts but if we don't have the data and fight for them, they can sometimes bypass those mitigation's by doing their own study and saying there are no impacts. They can't do that if we can clearly show the impacts. Using these flow studies, in certain cases, we can also apply for an RICD (Recreational in-channel diversion i.e. recreation water right) and permanently secure a certain amount of water, which of course would be junior to previous water rights but senior to any new projects that pop-up. These are becoming critical on the Upper Colorado River Basin.

The enhance side in these situations might look like negotiating for 8 hour day releases on Cottonwood Creek instead of 24 hours when their FERC re-licensing comes up, so there are more days with boatable flows when they do have at least some water to release. In this way we can sometimes enhance flows without needing more water, just by concentrating the releases over shorter periods, or even just by creating a system where the water controllers are notifying the paddling community when releases will be happening. So I think even in the San Rafael there are opportunities to potentially enhance flows. We obviously have to prioritize this stuff and put our limited resources into our best chances at success but it never hurts to have the data in hand as we progress through our projects.

Cheers!
 

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User flow surveys demonstrate public recreational use... which is a key piece of data when negotiating. Actual survey users vs. theoretical users hold weight in negotiations.

Also, just because we may not be able to enhance flows today doesn't mean that this data won't be helpful when these dams eventually come down (and they all will eventually... its just a matter of time).

I applaud AW for putting this collective survey to document river usage and flows for future work. Thanks AW!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Also a great point Ian. The more people who take the survey the more non-"theoretical" the users become. Demonstrating actual use is a big reason why it is important for us to get as many people to fill out these surveys as possible!
 

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Little grand

Or you can always run it when it flashes:p But what comes up goes down FAST. We have run it @ 3000+ with no trouble but it killed a boy scout leader that weekend. 125-150 is very doable in ducks or canoes......you will have a drag or three.
 

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The enhance side in these situations might look like negotiating for 8 hour day releases on Cottonwood Creek instead of 24 hours when their FERC re-licensing comes up, so there are more days with boatable flows when they do have at least some water to release. In this way we can sometimes enhance flows without needing more water, just by concentrating the releases over shorter periods, or even just by creating a system where the water controllers are notifying the paddling community when releases will be happening. So I think even in the San Rafael there are opportunities to potentially enhance flows. We obviously have to prioritize this stuff and put our limited resources into our best chances at success but it never hurts to have the data in hand as we progress through our projects.

Cheers!

I understand the need to develop comprehensive data; I am a huge baseball nerd and baseball nerdery (the SABR community) is all about statistics, so I completely understand what the goal of the survey is, and I am more than happy to add more data to the puzzle. We don't want any of the dreaded Small Sample Size here.

The paragraph ^^ above is exactly what I was looking for. The nitty gritty of what could be a possible scenario for future allotment, the possible shifting of resources towards a better timeline. That answers my question pretty well. Rather than trying to butt in with another user group, even just aligning the existing user groups interests' in the right way could benefit the rec group already. I could see that on some of these streams.

I know ECWD has some connection to the paddling community, at they did at one time at least. In the sumemr of 2010 they accidentally stored too much water in Joe's Valley Res, and ended up having a small excess to prepare for winter levels and let out 199.95 cfs for just about a month. I'm pretty sure there was a message posted here that I read and that spurred me to go and enjoy it. So the word was put out through enough channels that I, in a different state and network, still heard of it, and if it that worked for a random, unexpected flow event, then I would have to believe their network to inform boaters may already be in place and working. There inevitably seems to be info coming out about Muddy Creek every season too.

Thanks for the survey and for answering my questions, Evan. I understand and support what's going on, and I wasn't trying to needle AW or anyone else, I was just genuine interested in some of the details. Thanks for everything you do and thanks to AW for looking out for us. We all appreciate it immensely!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Bump!!! Black Boxes and San Rafael drainage paddlers! We still need a few more respondents to make this survey legit! If you've run any of these stretches or know someone who has please fill out/ have them fill out the survey. Even if you've only one run of the reaches. Thanks!!!
 
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