White River Dam timeline

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Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

The Wolf Creek Reservoir site, 23 miles east of Rangely, Colo. The view shows a glimpse of the White River, as well as potential locations for an on-channel dam, about where the telephone pole is, and an off-channel dam, across the mouth of the valley to the left.

May 13, 2018: The Aspen Times publishes an article entitled “Water district hones in on options for potential White River Dam near Rangely.”

May 9, 2018: Steve Jamieson, a principal engineer and president at W.W. Wheeler and Associates, and Brad McCloud, a senior project manager at EIS Solutions, presented the information developed as part of Phase 2A of the White River storage project to a meeting of the Yampa/White/Green basin roundtable, which was a public meeting. Here are some of the slides presented at the meeting.

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

A slide that says “there is no plan b,” only a plan to build more storage on the White River. That’s Brad McCloud of EIS Solutions in the foreground. He’s the project manager, working on behalf of the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District. He presented, along with Steve Jamieson, of Wheeler and Associates, at the May 9, 2018 meeting of the Yampa/White/Green basin roundtable.

A slide showing the purpose and need for a dam on either the main stem of the White River or in a side canyon called Wolf Creek. The slide was presented by Steve Jamieson of Wheeler and Associates on May 9, 2018, at a meeting of the Yampa/White/Green basin roundtable in Craig.

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

A slide presented on May 9, 2018 by Steve Jamieson of Wheeler and Associates to the Yampa/White/Green basin roundtbale. It describes the high costs of pumping water up to an off-channel reservoir, and describes the extensive gravity-fill option.

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

A slide presented by Steve Jamieson of Wheeler and Associates that shows how much sedimentation is expected to occur in either an on-channel or off-channel dam on the White River. An on-channel dam can expect to see 24,000 acre-feet of silt fill into the reservoir over 50 years.

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

A slide presented by Steve Jamieson of Wheeler and Associates on May 9, 2018, at the Yampa/White/Green roundtable meeting. The slides the axis of a large dam across the Wolf Creek drainage, about 3,000 feet from the White River. Jamieson said it was a 'flexible' dam site that could handle a variety of dam sizes.

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

A slide being presented by Steve Jamieson of Wheeler and Associates and Brad McCloud of EIS Solutions showing the range of dam and reservoir sizes that have been studied with state funding for the Wolf Creek drainage. The dams range in size from 80-feet-tall to 260-feet-tall and could store 41,000 AF to 1.6 MAF. The dam sizes were studied as part of Phase 2A of the White River storage project, and the state has provided $500,000 in funding so far to study the project.

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen journalism

Steve Jamieson, left, of Wheeler and Associates, and Brad McCloud, right, showing an illustration of where the axis of a 290-foot-tall dam across the White River would be. The big dam would require a 500-foot-wide spillway, which would mean relocating a section of Hwy 64.

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

A slide being presented by Steve Jamieson of Wheeler a showing the range of dam and reservoir sizes that have been studied for the potential White River Dam on the main stem of the White River 23 miles east of Rangely. The dams range in size from 80-feet-tall to 290-feet-tall and could store between 68,000 AF to 2.9 MAF. The dam sizes were studied as part of Phase 2A of the White River storage project, and the state has provided $500,000 in funding so far to study the project.

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

Steve Jamieson, left, of Wheeler and Associates and Brad McCloud of EIS Solutions presenting a slide that shows one version of a dam across the main stem of the White River. The two presented the slide on May 9, 2018 at a meeting of the Yampa/White/Green basin roundtable, which has recommended approval of three state grants to help fund studies of the project.

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

A slide presented by Steve Jamieson of Wheeler and Associates on May 9, 2018, showing the maximum inundation area of a 290-foot-tall dam on the main stem of the White River. Jamieson presented the slide at the May 9, 2018 meeting in Craig of the Yampa/White/Green basin roundtable.

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

A list of stakeholder meetings held by consultants at EIS Solutions and officials at the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District. The slide was shown on May 9, 2018 in Craig at the Yampa/White/Green basin roundtable meeting.

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

A list of permits and approvals needed expected to be pursued by the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District in its effort to create more water storage in the White River basin. The slide was shown at the Yampa/White/Green roundtable meeting on May 9, 2018.

April 30, 2018: Water Court judge in case 14CW3043, which is seeking 90,000 acre-feet of storage rights in a potential Wolf Creek Reservoir, either on or off channel, holds a status conference and sets a date of Sept. 5, 2018, for next status conference in the case. The CWCB, one of the opposers in the case, has reached an agreement in the case with Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District.

State of Colorado

A map of an off-channel version of a potential 90,000 acre-foot Wolf Creek Reservoir, as applied for in water court case 14CW3043.

Source: RBWCD via state of Colo

A map from a Dec. 29, 2014, filing in water court showing a 90,000 acre-foot Wolf Creek Reservoir with a dam on the main channel of the White River.

April 30, 2018: The Grand Junction Sentinel publishes a story by Dennis Webb entitled “New dam merely a figment? Reservoir on map sparks water debate.”

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

The White River near the location of the potential Wolf Creek Reservoir.

April 26, 2018: Aspen Journalism publishes a story by Brent Gardner-Smith titled “Colorado water managers studying Lake Powell levels issues.” The article mentions Wolf Creek Reservoir in the context of a potential water bank to help shore up water levels in Lake Powell.

April 19, 2018: Pagosa Post publishes a guest column by Gary Wockner on Wolf Creek Reservoir.

April 14, 2018: Rio Blanco Herald Times publishes an article entitled “Updates on new dam at river basin forum; dire weather predictions.”

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

A slide from a Nov. 8, 2017, presentation about the potential Wolf Creek Reservoir to the Yampa/White/Green roundtable. The graphic shows the location of both a potential off-channel, and on-channel reservoir.

Source: EIS via CWCB

A slide of the maximum reservoir size of the Wolf Creek Reservoir, as presented to Yampa/White/Green RT on Nov. 8, 2017.

Nov. 11, 2017: Presentation from Rio Blanco WCD at Yampa/White/Green roundtable meeting. Slides show the maximum size of off-channel reservoir is 1.58 million acre-feet and the maximum size of an on-channel reservoir is 2.92 million acre-feet. The presentation was made by Brad McCloud of EIS, consultants for Rio Blanco WCD.

Sept. 15, 2017: Rio Blanco Herald Times publishes an article entitled “Rangely council gives added funds to Wolf Creek project.”

Aug. 30, 2017: In water court case 14CW3043, Rio Blanco WCD responds to comments from division engineer, who told the applicant, “this application continues to contain aspects that are speculative and this is concerning to me.” Also, notably, the attorney for Rio Blanco told the division engineer, in the court filing, that the “applicant is in discussions with an energy company for the joint development/use of the Wolf Creek Reservoir.”

June 16, 2017: CWCB notice to proceed for Rio Blanco WCD’s grant to fund the Phase II study. Scope of work includes studying a  “maximum reservoir,” noting “The objective of this maximum reservoir work would be to develop an approximate cost for a much larger reservoir that could have additional benefits to the State of Colorado.”

March 22-23, 2017: CWCB board is presented with summary sheet for the Phase 2A study for Wolf Creek Reservoir and unanimously approves a $167,888 grant. One task in the study was to “develop feasibility designs and cost opinions for a maximum size reservoir [off-channel and on-channel].”

March 6, 2017: In 14CW3043, which seeks up to 90,000 AF of water rights for either an on- or off-channel Wolf Creek Reservoir, a proposed decree reflects settlements to date.

March 6, 2017: Date of WRSA grant application from Rio Blanco WCD to CWCB for “Phase 2A Study.” Application states that “Part of the Phase 2A study is to determine if the project may have the potential to provide Colorado compact curtailment insurance during periods of drought.”

Jan. 11, 2017: Yampa/White/Green approves grant for Phase 2 study of Wolf Creek Reservoir.

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

The upper end of Kenney Reservoir, which is silting in at the rate of about 315 acre-feet a year of lost storage capacity.

Nov. 9, 2016: Rio Blanco WCD’s WSRA grant application for Phase II of study for Wolf Creek Reservoir is presented to the Yampa/White/Green basin roundtble meeting and attached to the minutes from the meeting. Brad McCloud, a senior project at EIS Solutions, which is managing the project for Rio Blanco WCD, told the roundtable that “Our biggest purpose in this, and driving it from the district’s standpoint, is that we need to be able have a storage facility for supplying water to the town of Rangely. We obviously did come up with some others, but that’s the primary one.” He also said, “The more stakeholders that have needs for water in your bucket will determine the size of that bucket, for sure.”

Nov. 9, 2016: The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent publishes guest column by Randy Baumgardner and Bob Rankin in support of Wolf Creek Reservior. This project will bring a number of important regional benefits: It will provide the town of Rangely with the quality and quantity of water necessary to serve residents’ needs and address the growing water crisis that they are facing; it will assist in conservation efforts, providing possible opportunities for enhancing endangered fish species recovery; and, crucially, it will provide diversification to the local and regional economy through the tremendous recreational options it affords.”

Oct. 31, 2016: Diligence filing, 16CW3034, for other Rio Blanco WCD rights reports $650,000 in expenses related to its “White River Storage Reservoir.”

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

The White River, near the location of the proposed Wolf Creek Reservoir, which would be located 23 miles east of Rangely.

July 10, 2015: Response from Rio Blanco WCD in 14CW3043 to summary of consultation. Includes July 8, 2015, report from W.W. Wheeler, which states, “Based on flow data available on the White River near Watson, Utah (USGS 09306500), approximately 500,000 acre-feet of water exits the State of Colorado every year, with the volume ranging from an annual minimum of approximately 200,000 acre-feet to a maximum of approximately 1,200,000 acre-feet.”

March 17, 2015: Division engineer’s summary of consultation filed in 14CW3043 application for Wolf Creek Reservoir storage rights.

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

A view of the Wolf Creek valley where the off-channel Wolf Creek Reservoir would be built, between Meeker and Rangely.

Dec. 29, 2014: Rio Blanco WCD applies for water storage rights for both an on-channel and an off-channel reservoir on the White River at Wolf Creek.

July 16-17, 2014: Date of WSRA grant summary sheet for Phase II study grant application from Rio Blanco WCD. CWCB unanimously approves grant for $97,750 at its July 16-17 meeting. The summary sheet says, “Other potential uses of new storage on the White River could potentially benefit the State of Colorado to provide future storage for Colorado River compact compliance, transbasin diversions, or generation of additional energy through hydropower.”

May 30, 2014: WRSA grant application from Rio Blanco WCD.

April 24, 2014: “White River Storage Feasibility Study,” phase 1, by W.W. Wheeler Associates, is released by Rio Blanco WCD. Includes discussion of compact compliance, stating that, “Providing an emergency supply of water in storage that could be released to offset a Colorado River Compact call could assist the State of Colorado to provide the required water demands without injuring other Colorado water users; however, the feasibility or demand of this potential water storage is unable to be quantified at this time.”

The study also notes, “Based on a meeting with representatives from the BLM White River Field Office and the RBWCD on April 16, 2014, the NEPA documentation for a new storage reservoir on the White River will likely require extensive documentation as an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) because, as a minimum, there will likely be significant impacts to endangered fish in the White River and Colorado downstream of the reservoir.”

Feb. 20, 2014: CWCB sends notice to proceed on grant funding for reservoir study to Rio Blanco WCD. Lists one potential use as “Providing Colorado River Compact storage during periods of extreme drought.”

Source: CWCB

A map from 2013 showing potential dam and reservoir locations in the White River basin, including Wolf Creek.

Nov. 19-20, 2013: CWCB issues summary sheet for WSRA grant. Notes that reservoir could be used for “Colorado River Compact Drought Storage.” CWCB approved, by a 9-to-0 vote, $135,000 for a feasibility study for White River Storage project.

Oct. 25, 2013: Yampa White Green roundtable sends another letter to CWCB, citing an Oct. 13, 2013, roundtable meeting and support for the second phase of a feasibility study.

Oct. 21, 2013: Yampa White Green roundtable sends letter to CWCB after voting to support Rio Blanco WCD’s proposed reservoir.

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