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Ruedi targeted to help refill reservoir’s empty contract pool

Peter Roessmann
Special to the Post Independent

Ruedi Reservoir is being eyed as a possible source of drought-year water to meet the needs of water users that normally purchase water from Green Mountain Reservoir.

Officials with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Water Division 5 engineers and the Colorado River Water Conservation District met Tuesday with a group of Green Mountain Reservoir water contract holders to find a solution to the water shortage in the reservoir.

The contract pool, the most junior “pool” of water in Green Mountain Reservoir, will not fill this year because of the winter’s sub-par snowpack and three years of below-normal precipitation. This lack of water leaves the contract group without any water to fill their needs.

The contract pool in Green Mountain Reservoir normally meets the demands of municipalities, subdivisions, ski areas and other businesses on the Western Slope. These water users represent the growth in water consumption on the Western Slope since 1983.

The Colorado River Water Conservation District is attempting to broker an arrangement among water users and water suppliers on the West Slope to reduce demand and find alternative supplies of water to meet the needs of Green Mountain contractees facing the coming year with no water available.

A solution is being crafted to substitute water that is contracted for in Ruedi Reservoir, but will not be used this year, in place of water that would otherwise be released from Green Mountain Reservoir. Water saved in Green Mountain Reservoir from this arrangement would be used to supply a portion of the water requirements of the Green Mountain contract pool group.

“We need to make sure that critical needs are met,” said Eric Kuhn, general manager of the River District. He said most communities on the West Slope have already enacted water saving measures to reduce their needs, and many large water users across the West Slope have shown flexibility in reducing their water consumption.

“Of all the reservoirs on the West Slope,” said Kuhn, “Ruedi Reservoir is in the best shape.”

This water substitution will only be possible if some Ruedi Reservoir contractees allow a portion their water go to other users. Some of this contracted water is reserved for future uses, but isn’t being used now.

The Bureau of Reclamation manages Green Mountain and Ruedi Reservoirs. The Bureau and the Colorado Division of Water Resources engineers are working to make this arrangement succeed.

“It will be a struggle to try and make some water available for everybody this year. No one’s going to get a full supply. We’re trying to stretch water out this year to keep everybody satisfied,” said Malcolm Wilson of the Bureau of Reclamation.

“I can’t put my finger on any place on the Western Slope that’s not feeling any pain,” Kuhn added.

The sacrifices of senior water users opting to reduce their water demands to prevent junior users from getting cut off also saves more water in upstream reservoirs to supply users who otherwise would have no other source of water this year.

Peter Roessmann is the education specialist for the Colorado River Water Conservation District.


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