Water Update

By John Orr

MINUTE 323

Several tributaries of the Colorado River get their start in the crags of the Central Colorado mountains. Storied rivers: Blue, Eagle, Roaring Fork and the powerhouse Gunnison. They’ve all faced the footstep of humankind. The mines dotting the slopes, hay fields, ranching, orchards and cornfields bear witness and are now part of the allure of the high country. Folks cast a line, shoot rapids and enjoy the scenery of those waterways.

On September 27, 2017, the International Boundary and Water Commission, United States and Mexico inked Minute 323, the amendment to the 1944 United States-Mexico Treaty for Utilization of Water covering operations on the Colorado, Rio Grande and Tijuana rivers. (The Rio Grande is another of Central Colorado’s contributions to the Western U.S. economy.)

An important part of Minute 323 are environmental flows for the Colorado River Delta. Most everyone knows the river doesn’t reach the sea any longer. Environmental streamflow was initiated under Minute 319 signed by then Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar.

In March 2016 a diverse group of conservationists, biologists, irrigators and government officials effected a release of 100,000 acre-feet of water from Morelos Dam into the dry Colorado River Delta. There was a line of vehicles racing point to point along the river to witness the river’s front. At San Luis Rio Colorado, most of the residents went down to the river to celebrate the return of the river although many had no memory of running water in the sandy channel.

There was a great deal of success from channeling some of the streamflow to restoration sites in the Delta. Within weeks, new growth sprouted – cottonwoods and willows. Much of the diverted water served to replenish groundwater supplies. Wildlife immediately started using the habitat.

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Riding the River Home

By Susan Tweit

In July I spent four days on the Green River, floating the canyons of Dinosaur National Park as a “mind guide” for a trip with Colorado Art Ranch.

Let me say right off, I am not a river-girl. Whitewater does not make my heart sing; in fact, the rumble of a river grinding downhill over rapids scares me.

This particular trip came with a boat-load of grief: my writer/bookstore-owner friend Carol drowned three summers ago on the Green, in Triplet Falls, one of the rapids we would be running. Her husband Terry, an experienced boatman, was at the oars when the boat flipped; everyone made it out but Carol. Terry was joining the Art Ranch trip, determined to return to the river he loved.

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Video: The Call of the River

A Hundred Years of Whitewater Adventure
Produced by Kent Ford (2008 Whitewater Hall of Fame Inductee)
93 Minutes
Performance Video. Durango, Colorado – 2009

Reviewed by Mike Rosso

Most Central Colorado residents are familiar with FIBArk, the big whitewater festival held every summer in Salida. What they may not be aware of is the event’s impact on the sport of whitewater boating in the United States.

Renowned paddler and filmmaker Kent Ford brings that history to life with his new film, Call of the River, which traces the origins of the sport of river running from early canoeing adventures to modern creek boating.

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