MESA COUNTY, Colo. – This summer’s drought has taken its toll on the water flow conditions of the Colorado River. One 15-mile reach just east of Grand Junction has been in critical condition, causing concern for the entire river’s future.
“The 15-mile reach is really a warning signal or a bellwether for what’s going on in the rest of the river,” explains Colorado Water Trust’s Kate Ryan.
The ongoing drought leaves the water levels and all of the species beneath it at risk.
“We have seen periods where without supplemental water provided for endangered fish that stretch of the Colorado River may go dry,” says the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program’s Kevin McAbee.
Four endangered fish species in the Upper Colorado River exist no where else in the world, and help maintain the water’s health.
“Fortunately a coalition of groups received an anonymous donation of 586 million gallons of water from a Western Slope Reservoir, just in time to keep the river flowing at healthier levels,” says KREX5’s Reilly Spence.
The water comes from Ruedi Reservoir and goes to the Grand Valley Power Plant near Palisade – where it generates clean electricity before joining the 15-mile reach. The Colorado Water Trust says this will not only support healthier streamflow, but support agricultural water deliveries that benefit the Western Slope.
“The entire Colorado River is critically important to the people of Colorado and the people who depend on it for drinking water, growing peaches, recreation; everything that we do as Coloradans,” Ryan asserts.
Since 2019, the Water Trust has delivered more than 4500 acre-feet of water to the Colorado River, and will continue to work closely with the Grand Valley to keep the river’s water flowing and sustainable.