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Probable effects of the proposed Sulphur Gulch Reservoir on Colorado River quantity and quality near Grand Junction, Colorado

Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5253

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Abstract

A 16,000 acre-foot reservoir is proposed to be located about 25 miles east of Grand Junction, Colorado, on a tributary of the Colorado River that drains the Sulphur Gulch watershed between De Beque and Cameo, Colorado. The Sulphur Gulch Reservoir, which would be filled by pumping water from the Colorado River, is intended to provide the Colorado River with at least 5,412.5 acre-feet of water during low-flow conditions to meet the East Slopes portion of the 10,825 acre-feet of water required under the December 20, 1999, Final Programmatic Biological Opinion for the Upper Colorado River. The reservoir also may provide additional water in the low-flow period and as much as 10,000 acre-feet of water to supplement peak flows when flows in the Colorado River are between 12,900 and 26,600 cubic feet per second. For this study, an annual stochastic mixing model with a daily time step and 1,500 Monte Carlo trials were used to evaluate the probable effect that reservoir operations may have on water quality in the Colorado River at the Government Highline Canal and the Grand Valley Irrigation Canal. Simulations of the divertible flow (ambient background streamflow), after taking into account demands of downstream water rights, indicate that divertible flow will range from 621,860 acre-feet of water in the driest year to 4,822,732 acrefeet of water in the wettest year. Because of pumping limitations, pumpable flow (amount of streamflow available after considering divertible flow and subsequent pumping constraints) will be less than divertible flow. Assuming a pumping capacity of 150 cubic feet per second and year round pumping, except during reservoir release periods, the simulations indicate that there is sufficient streamflow to fill a 16,000 acre-feet reservoir 100 percent of the time. Simulated pumpable flows in the driest year are 91,669 acre-feet and 109,500 acre-feet in the wettest year. Simulations of carryover storage together with year-round pumping indicate that there is generally sufficient pumpable flow available to refill the reservoir to capacity each year following peak-flow releases of as much as 10,000 acrefeet and low-flow releases of 5,412.5 acre-feet of water. It is assumed that at least 5,412.5 acre-feet of stored water will be released during low-flow conditions irrespective of the hydrologic condition. Simulations indicate that peak-flow release conditions (flows between 12,900 and 26,600 cubic feet per second) to allow release of 10,000 acre-feet of stored water in the spring will occur only about 50 percent of the time. Under typical (5 of 10 years) to moderately dry (3 of 10 years) hydrologic conditions, the duration of the peak-flow conditions will not allow the full 10,000 acre-feet to be released from storage to supplement peak flows. During moderate to extremely dry (2 of 10 years) hydrologic conditions, the peak-flow release conditions will not occur, and there will be no opportunity to release water from storage to supplement peak flows. In general, the simulated daily background dissolved-solids concentrations (salinity) increase due to the reservoir releases as hydrologic conditions go from wet to dry at the Government Highline Canal. For example, the simulated median concentrations during the low-flow period range from 417 milligrams per liter (wet year) to 723 milligrams per liter (dry year), whereas the simulated median concentrations observed during the peak-flow period range from 114 milligrams per liter (wet year) to 698 milligrams per liter (dry year). Background concentration values at the Grand Valley Irrigation Canal are generally only a few percent less than those at the Government Highline Canal except during dry years. Low-flow reservoir releases of 5,412.5 acre-feet and 10,825 acre-feet were simulated for a 30-day period in September, and low-flow releases of 5,412.5 acre-feet were simulated for a 78-day period in the months of August through October. In general, these low-flo

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Probable effects of the proposed Sulphur Gulch Reservoir on Colorado River quantity and quality near Grand Junction, Colorado
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
2004-5253
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2004
Language:
ENGLISH
Description:
71 p.
Scale:
1