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Groups Suggest Changes For Colorado Water Projects

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(credit: wildlife.state.co.us)

(credit: wildlife.state.co.us)

DENVER (AP) – Conservation groups and others urged Colorado wildlife commissioners Friday to tweak two major water providers’ plans for lessening effects of pending reservoir projects, so that rivers that fill the reserves stay healthy.

The Colorado Wildlife Commission eventually will weigh in on the mitigation plans by Denver Water and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District before the state gives its opinion on the reservoir projects to federal permitting agencies. Both projects are proposed to meet growing demands for drinking and irrigation water.

At a meeting Friday in Salida, Grand County was among those who told wildlife commissioners to better preserve stream flows so that river temperatures are cool enough for fish to thrive, and so that river systems can be flushed of sediment that can choke bugs that provide food for trout.

But the commission also heard from Broomfield and the Platte River Power Authority, who support the mitigation proposals and said the reservoir projects would strengthen their water supplies.

Denver Water’s $140 million Moffat Collection System Project proposes nearly tripling the capacity of Gross Reservoir in Boulder County to about 114,000 acre-feet. One acre-foot can supply the annual needs of up to two households.

The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s Windy Gap firming project, with construction costs estimated at $237 million, would build the Chimney Hollow Reservoir to store up to 90,000 acre-feet of water in Boulder County.

Denver Water has proposed $7 million in myriad mitigation measures, including money to restore aquatic habitat on the Fraser, Colorado, Upper Williams Fork and South Platte rivers.

Both water suppliers have proposed steps such as not diverting water to their systems in the summer when stream flows drop below a certain level or when water temperatures get too high.

Critics said diversions should be restricted whenever those thresholds are crossed, not just on certain dates.

Commissioners didn’t take formal action Friday after hearing comments on the water providers’ detailed proposals.

- By Catherine Tsai, AP Writer

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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