Arkansas River Flows Cut for Diversion Project
Colorado Springs, Aurora Need More Water
The Upper Arkansas River is both one of the most heavily used rivers in the United States for whitewater recreation and is a Gold Medal Trout Fishery. The river is managed to support multiple objectives including water supply and delivery and outdoor recreation.
This week, area residents and users will see a decline in native flows to the river as the cities of Colorado Springs and Aurora move forward with the Homestake Arkansas River Diversion (ARD) project between Granite and Buena Vista.
According to a media advisory released from the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) on Monday, the Colorado Springs Utility (CSU) will be doing some construction work at the Clear Creek Reservoir juncture and has requested that the native flows to the river be cut in order “to re-establish a coffer dam in the Arkansas River near Granite.”
According to Terry Dawson, a BOR FryArk Project Water Resource Specialist, the native flows to the Arkansas River will be adjusted as follows:
- Monday, March 25
- 11:00 Hours – Decrease the native release by 70 cfs to 45 cfs. Total release is 430 cfs.
- Tuesday, March 26
- 09:00 Hours – Decrease the native release by 45 cfs to 0 cfs. Total release is 385 cfs.
- 11:00 Hours – Decrease the project release by 40 cfs to 345 cfs.
- 14:00 Hours – Decrease the project release by 35 cfs to 310 cfs.
- Wednesday, March 27
- 07:00 Hours – Decrease the project release by 85 cfs to 225 cfs.
- Thursday, March 28
- 16:00 Hours – Increase the project release by 85 cfs to 310 cfs.
- Friday, March 29
- 07:00 Hours – Increase the project release by 75 cfs to 385 cfs.
Homestake Arkansas River Diversion (ARD) – Project Overview
The Homestake Project is a trans-mountain raw water collection, storage, and delivery system co-owned and operated by the cities of Colorado Springs and Aurora, Colo.
The Homestake Arkansas River Diversion (ARD), between Granite and Buena Vista, Colo., was constructed in 1964 as the original intake for the Otero Pump Station. Water is now primarily withdrawn from Twin Lakes, however the ARD remains an alternate point of diversion. The ARD has deteriorated and requires repair. The ARD was not originally designed as a navigable facility.
A physical model, which viewers may which below, was constructed to test and refine hydraulic elements to optimize performance, maximize user safety and meet design guidelines for recreational whitewater for all three components: boat chute, fish passage and the new intake structure.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) manages the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) which includes the site of the ARD. CPW expressed interest in partnering with Springs Utilities on a rehabilitation project to include a boat chute for downstream navigation as this location is currently considered the only non-navigable reach of the Arkansas River between Leadville and Canon City, Colo.
The cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs are constructing a rehabilitation project that will replace the intake and diversion, provide a boat chute for downstream navigation, and provide upstream fish passage for spawning of brown and rainbow trout. The project also included improving river safety for recreational users and providing whitewater boat portage. User safety was an extremely important design consideration.
The $9 million construction cost of the project is being jointly funded by the cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs. $1.2 million in grants is coming from Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Water Conservation Board through grant funding to support the Colorado Water Plan (Water Supply and Demand Gap and Environmental and Recreation Grant Programs). The Pueblo Board of Waterworks is donating the easements necessary to construct and maintain the diversion.