Colorado River reporting resources

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Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

The upper Colorado River.

CBRT draft BIP via SGM.

The Upper Colorado River Basin, or that section of land drained by the Colorado River, within the state of Colorado, above the Colorado River’s confluence with the Gunnison River. This basin is regulated by the state of Colorado as Division 5, and the state’s regional water court and water engineer’s office are located in Glenwood Springs.

Aspen Journalism is covering the upper Colorado River basin in conjunction with The Aspen Times, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, the Vail Daily and the Summit Daily News.

The basin itself is difficult to describe, given the many uses of the name, the “Colorado River,” but for our purposes, it starts with the state of Colorado’s water regulatory framework. The state’s Division 5 includes a defined portion of what it calls the Upper Colorado River Basin. The area includes the main stem of the Colorado River basin from its headwaters to its confluence with the Gunnison River in Grand Junction. It also includes all of the tributaries to the Colorado River above the Gunnison confluence.

It can be described as the area drained by the Colorado River, within the state of Colorado, above the rivers confluence with the Gunnison.

Under the state’s regulatory framework, there are three primary institutions that are bound by the Division 5 boundaries: the division engineer’s office, water court, and the Colorado River basin roundtable. We are seeking to cover each of these institutions.

There are also many organizations to cover in the sub-basins, or sub-regions, or water districts, within the larger basin.

The Upper Colorado River Basin is also at the heart of Colorado’s, and the West’s, water story, given its central role as a provider of water to the Front Range and to the lower Colorado River basin. What happens on the Front Range, and what happens down river, matters to the Upper Colorado River Basin. And vice versa.

Below, we have posted a series of maps that seek to drill down into the Div. 5 basin, if you will, seeking to provide context and location to our coverage goals. Below that is an evolving set of links to water organizations, of one stripe or another, within the basin. Suggestions are welcome.

The Colorado River basin and its context in the West.

Transmountain diversions in Colorado, by size

River basins in Colorado.

The Upper Colorado River basin, within Colorado, including the Gunnison River basin.

The upper Colorado River basin, within Colorado, including the Gunnison basin.


A map showing water facilities in the upper Colorado River basin.

The Upper Colorado River basin, within Colorado, aka Div. 5

Upper Colorado River above Grand Junction, aka Div. 5

Upper Colorado River basin map

Grand Valley consumptive use map, CBRT draft BIP

Middle Colorado sub region per CBRT BIP

Roaring Fork sub region, CBRT BIP

Roaring Fork River watershed

Eagle River sub region per CBRT BIP

Eagle River basin.

State Bridge sub region per CBRT BIP

Summit County sub region, CBRT BIP

The Blue River basin.

Grand County sub region per CBRT BIP

The headwaters of the upper Colorado River.

Mountain Buzz

Snowpack chart

USGS: Colorado streamflows

USGS: Lower Colorado region (Plateau)

USGS: Roaring Fork watershed

USGS: Eagle River watershed

USGS: Blue River watershed

USGS: Colorado headwaters area

USDA snowpack graphics

Bureau of Reclamation

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

A view from the Pitkin County end of Homestake Reservoir, located on Homestake Creek, a tributary of the upper Eagle River.

Div. 5 Water Court

Div. 5 Division Engineer

Colorado Dam Safety

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

The building, in Denver, that houses the CWCB.

Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB)

CWCB: Past meeting agendas

CWCB: Colorado’s Water Plan

CWCB: Colorado River Basin Roundtable (CBRT)

CBRT: Colorado River Basin Implementation Plan

CBRT: Colorado River basin roundtable membership list, from Aspen Journalism

Arkansas River Basin Roundtable

Gunnison River Basin Roundtable

South Platte River Basin Roundatble

Metro Basin Roundtable

Yampa White Green River Basin Roundtable

Rio Grande River Basin Roundtable

Jeremy Wallace / The Aspen Times

A view of red canyon, just south of Glenwood Springs, from the Roaring Fork River on May 13, 2015.

Colorado River District

Grand Valley Water Users Association

Northwest Council of Governments

Colorado Water Congress

Front Range Water Council

Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District

City of Aspen

Snowmass Water and Sanitation District

Basalt Water Conservancy District

Ruedi Water and Power Authority

Eagle River Water and Sanitation

Eagle River Watershed Council

West Divide Water Conservancy District

Ute Water Conservancy District

Clifton Water

Grand County Water and Sanitation

Winter Park Water and Sanitation District

Upper Blue Sanitation District

Silt Water Conservancy District

Bluestone Water Conservancy District

Collbran Water Conservancy District

Middle Park Water Conservancy District

Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

The diversion structure for the Maybell Canal on the Yampa River east of Maybell. The ditch has been working to reduce diversions after the division engineer found it was diverting more water than it needed.

Northern Water

Northern: West Slope water data

Northern: Reservoir data

Denver Water

Aurora Water

Colorado Springs Utilities

Southeastern Water Conservancy District

Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Company

Brent Gardner-Smith / Aspen Journalism

Part of a trans mountain diversion structure on a tributary in the upper Fryingpan River.

Diversion map and chart

Adams Tunnel

Roberts Tunnel

Moffat Tunnel

Bousted Tunnel

Twin Lakes Tunnel

Homestake Tunnel

Grand River Ditch

Continental Hoosier Tunnel

Busk-Ivanhoe Tunnel

Wurtz Ditch

Photo: Courtesy of Bureau of Reclamation

The crest of the dam across the Fryingpan River that forms Ruedi Reservoir, which can hold 102,373 acre-feet of water.

Granby Reservoir

Dillon Reservoir

Green Mountain Reservoir

Ruedi Reservoir

Williams Fork Reservoir

Wolford Mountain Reservoir

Homestake Reservoir

Vega Reservoir

Shadow Mountain Reservoir

Rifle Gap Reservoir

Willow Creek Reservoir

Grass Valley Reservoir

Clinton Gulch Reservoir

Eagle Park Reservoir

Largest Reservoirs in Colorado

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

A beaver dam on lower Lincoln Creek, in 2011.

Colorado Mesa University Water Center

Colorado River Outfitters Association

Colorado Trout Unlimited

Western Resource Advocates

American Rivers

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism / Aspen Journalism

The Grottos, in the upper Roaring Fork River basin.

Roaring Fork Conservancy

Roaring Fork watershed gages

Roaring Fork gage chart scan

Roaring Fork River basin flows

Roaring Fork at Glenwood Springs flows

Roaring Fork flow through Aspen

Roaring Fork watershed gage map

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

A view of the Dolores River below Slickrock.

Dolores River flows

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