The Gunnison Basin - Colorado Mesa University

Report
Source: Bureau of Reclamation
Diverse communities making beneficial use
of all available water
Agriculture
 Municipal and Domestic
 Recreation and Tourism
 Coal Mining
 Hydropower Generation

Livestock and hay production
66,486 irrigated acres
578,380 acre-feet average
annual diversions
72,481 acre-feet annual
consumptive use
97% of current water
diversions
$46.2 million annually
Diverse communities making beneficial
use of all available water
Uncompahgre Project

Taylor Park Reservoir, Gunnison
Tunnel, 7 diversion dams, 128 miles of
main canals, 438 miles of laterals, 216
miles of drains.

Supplies 76,300 acres of irrigated
lands.

Principal crops are alfalfa, wheat, corn,
oats, beans, barley, onions and fruit.
North Fork Region

281,889 acres dedicated to agriculture

346,000 apple trees, 22,000 pear trees,
107,000 peach trees, 97,000 grape vines

Other principal crops are hay, corn, dry
beans, squash, and vegetables

Total crop value (2002) $16,551,000

Livestock includes cattle, buffalo, elk,
llamas, exotic birds

Municipal Providers

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Gunnison, Crested Butte, Mt.
Crested Butte Water &
Sanitation District, Crested
Butte South W&SD, Skyland
Lake City
Project 7 Water Authority
Orchard City, Hotchkiss, Paonia
12,000 Domestic wells
Diverse communities making beneficial
use of all available water
Flat water Recreation
Curecanti National Recreation Area


One million visitor days per year
$35.51 in direct spending, supported:







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$40.86 million in sales
$14.89 million in personal income
888 jobs
$23.44 million in value added
Taylor Park Reservoir
Lake San Cristobal
Ridgway Reservoir
Crawford State Park
Grand Mesa
Paonia

Stream
Fishing

Kayaking

Canoeing

Rafting

Snow
Making


Total Production
Total Sales Value
16,140,389 tons
$403,559,867
• Property taxes
$4,361,319
• Employee pay and Benefits
$93,805,041
• Supplies and Services
$88,338,000
• Direct water use in production
1,200 acre-feet per year
Aspinall Unit Power Plants

Blue Mesa
 Outlet capacity 6,100 c.f.s.
 60 Megawatts (load following)

Morrow Point
 Outlet capacity 5,000 c.f.s.
 156 Megawatts (load following)

Crystal
 Outlet capacity 4,150 c.f.s.
 29 Megawatts (base unit)
National Park Service photo by Lisa Lynch

The federal reserved water right doctrine

March 2, 1933

Base flow:

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Peak flow:

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Year-round at 300 c.f.s.
one-day peak
1,300 – 14,000 c.f.s. - determined annually by a formula
based on forecasted unregulated April through July inflow
to Blue Mesa Reservoir
Shoulder flows

85 day period

Aspinall Unit Operations –
Preliminary Final EIS

Selenium

Endangered
Species Act
Endangered fish and habitat –
Gunnison and Colorado Rivers

Environmental Impact
Statement
Growth
Colorado River Compact Compliance
Climate Disturbance

Population increase to
2050 projected to be 96129% - to >200,000

Projected increase in gross
water demand by 2030 is
14,900 acre-feet
(underestimates municipal
requirements in North
Fork Region)

Virtually the entire
Gunnison Basin is already
over-appropriated
(due to historic shortages
at Redlands Power Canal
near Grand Junction)
Colorado River Basin
Upper Basin
Wyoming
Utah
Colorado
New Mexico
Lower Basin
Nevada
Arizona
California
Navajo Reservoir
Flaming Gorge Reservoir
Blue Mesa Reservoir
8.23 million
acre-feet
Inflows to Lake Powell
Percentage of 30-year average
• 2000 – 62%
• 2001 – 59%
• 2002 – 25%
• 2003 – 51%
•
2004- 49%
• 2005 – 105%
• 2006 – 71%
• 2007 – 68%
Lowest 8-year average in 100 years
Lake Powell
Impact of a dry year
2007
2002

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