Studies and Reports
Energy Needs, Climate Change and More
The waters of Western Colorado face constant political, legal, cultural and natural challenges and events that affect the quality and quantity of this most vital natural resource.
The River District works on behalf of its nearly half-million constituents to monitor these happenings and to protect the interests of this region. This section of the website provides studies and reports regarding major issues that are shaping Western Colorado's water outlook and can be downloaded or received by request. Colorado River District Board Resolution to Support USBOR / WaterSmart Grant: Watershed Modeling for Upper Colorado River Basin
Energy Development Water Needs Assessment
Phase II Final Report (Jan 2012)
(5 MB, 196 page .pdf)
The Colorado Basin Roundtable and the Yampa/White Basin Roundtable commissioned an Energy Development Water Needs Assessment to ascertain the consumptive uses that might be generated by a growing energy industry in Western Colorado, particularly oil shale. The work is being overseen by the Joint Energy Development Water Needs Committee. The final report from Phase II of the study can be downloaded below.
Once approved the water demand estimates would be part of the consumptive water needs assessments mandated under HB1177 and will be used in statewide water supply planning.
The Joint Energy Development Water Needs Committee reported that total demands can be seen in Table 13 of the Final Scenarios report. Maximum water demands are about 120,000 acre-feet per year, a substantial decrease from the 400,000 acre-feet per year in the Phase I study. The reduction stems from 3 primary factors:
1. It was assumed a portion of an in-situ oil shale industry would use some form of down-hole combustion process instead of electrical heaters, which results in reduced electrical generation requirements. We know that from Phase I, water for electrical generation for oil shale actually exceeded the water directly needed for oil shale production.
2. It was assumed combined cycle natural gas fired turbines would be used for electrical generation. These require approximately a third less water. If coal-fired generation was used to meet electrical demand, we believe the generating capacity would occur out of the basin.3. With extensive input from industry, the committee fine-tuned the unit water demands for oil shale. It believes these revisions are a more realistic estimate of how water might be used in oil shale production. For example, the unit demand estimates reflect information from industry that the in-situ conversion process results in the molecular production of water from the organic compounds in the oil shale.The committee reports that these estimates aren't meant to be predictive. In other words, there are no one set of estimates that are correct. They simply reflect the water demands that could take place given certain assumed scenarios and conditions for energy development. That being said, the water demands reflect a more reasoned and considered approach, and the committee believes they represent a better and more refined (no pun intended) estimate than what we were able to accomplish in Phase I.
CWCB reviews initial results from Colorado River Water Availability Study
Preliminary results from a multi-year study on the Colorado River suggests the state still has water available to develop, but additional research is needed to better quantify how much, state water officials said. The draft results of Phase I of the Colorado River Water Availability Study were presented to the Colorado Water Conservation Board at its meeting on Jan. 27, 2010.-Full CWCB press release-Colorado Water Availability Study
(7 MB 58 page .pdf)
The report is an assessment of Colorado climate change authored by scientists at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Colorado State University. The CU-NOAA Western Water Assessment was produced for state water planners and provides scientific information on temperature, precipitation, snowmelt, and runoff for Colorado.
The "15 Mile Reach" of the Colorado River, a segment stretching east of Grand Junction for 15 miles, is important habitat for the four endangered fish species on whose behalf significant efforts are being made to recover their dwindling populations. This report examines a number of the criteria upon which recovery efforts are based.
Windy Gap Firming Windy Gap Firming Project Scoping Report.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has posted a scoping report on this proposed project which would allow the Windy Gap Project
to "firm" or increase the amount of water it presently diverts from the headwaters of the Colorado River in Grand County. The project's various alternatives are outlined in the executive report
. (posted 1-2-2004)
Aspinall Unit/ Black Canyon Issues Colorado River District to participate in Aspinall EIS process as "cooperating agency".
Reclamation will study impacts of operating Aspinall Unit reservoirs
to benefit endangered fishes in Gunnison and Colorado Rivers. (posted 01-23-04)Proposed Wolcott ReservoirWolcott Reservoir Feasibility Assessment.
(June 2004) A proposed reservoir that would provide benefits to both East and West Slope interests has been evaluated in a Phase I Feasibility Assessment written by Grand River Consulting and GEI Consultants, Inc. This study evaluates three pumped storage reservoir scenarios ranging in size from 55,000 acre-feet to 105,000 acre-feet. The report is a .pdf file of 108 pages in length.
UPCO - Upper Colorado River Basin Study Upper Colorado River Basin Study Executive Summary
- This document produced by Hydrosphere Resource Consultants, Inc. examines water quantity and quality issues in Grand and Summit Counties and how increased out-of-basin diversions could affect these conditions. This link provides a 9 page .pdf file summary of the full 90 page report. Other developments in the UPCO process are chronicled on the NWCCOG website.