South Boulder Creek

Boulder Flycasters | South Boulder Creek Improvement Initiatives

Update: May 13, 2020

Boulder Flycasters and Colorado TU completed Phase I of the Lower South Boulder Creek Stream Management Plan (SMP) on April 30, 2020. The overall project scope included: Stakeholder Outreach, Data Collection / Assessment, River Health Assessment (RHA) Methodology Selection, and Existing Physical Infrastructure Assessment. The project commenced in March 2019, and all field work tasks were completed in November 2019. We completed Phase I on-time and under the $111,000 budget. The Phase I final report will be available as soon as the State review and approval
is finished. To summarize, the major recommendations for Phase II are:

  • Execute the stakeholder communications plan developed in Phase I
  • Close remaining data gaps identified in Phase I, and continue / add to water quality and
    quantity data collection (monitoring) efforts
  • Refine the RHA methodology, and conduct the assessment of this reach against the biological,
    hydrological, geomorphological and recreational categories defined
  • Complete point flow analysis for the project reach, develop the “highest practical” flow scenario
    and assess flow parameters as part of the RHA
  • Conduct preliminary engineering designs for the seven (7) highest priority structures, with low
    flow capabilities, aquatic organism passage, habitat improvement and structure efficiency as

As a result, Phase II is largely focused on conducting the physical assessment of the reach for overall
flow, habitat, water, and use improvement opportunities that will be defined at a level of detail to be
build / execution ready. Funding for Phase II ($321,000) is secured through State and Federal grants,
and matching funds. We are in the process of finalizing contracts with State and Federal agencies.
We expect to kick off Phase Ii in June 2020. The project will then run until the end of 2021.

Update, 16 January 2019

The Lower South Boulder Creek, Stream Management Plan Project is a Go!

We received approval from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) this week for the underling grant. The CWCB grant represents 50% of the funding needs. And cash-matching funds were approved last week by the Metro Basin Round Table (12.5%), and South Platte Basin Round Table (12.5%). Previous commitments of cash matching funds came from Colorado TU (5%), and Boulder Flycasters (6%). We still need to raise $6,000 to close the cash needs gap.
In-kind matching funds approved include staff or volunteer work hours, and / or equipment, from Boulder Water (BW), Lafayette Water (LW), Denver Water (DW), Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks (BOSMP), Colorado TU and Boulder Flycasters. In-kind matching fund commitments currently exceed our estimated needs, so we have some contingency labor hours available.
Once the contract documents are negotiated with the funding sources, we expect to perform project start up tasks in February, and the core of the project work to start up in March. We are about to circulate an RFP to selected firms to fill the role of Project Manager / Watershed Improvement Consultant. Then we will follow with an RFP for the Engineering Consultant role.

We are currently in the grant application cycle with the CWCB and other sources to fund a Stream Management Plan (SMP) for lower South Boulder Creek. This is the ~9 mile stretch that starts at the mouth of Eldorado Canyon (east entrance to Eldorado State Park and just upstream of the town of Eldorado Springs) and terminates at the confluence with Boulder Creek. Lower South Boulder Creek is a highly engineered stretch with at least 20 head gates and associate diversion structures, resulting in a relatively complex water rights management and flow management regimens. The stretch flows through environmentally sensitive areas and also through high use Open Space in Boulder County (owned and managed by the City of Boulder). The amount of water diversion above and on this stretch results in no-to-low, in-stream flows during much of the winter months (non-irrigation season). We are working with BW, LW, DW and BOSMP on a project to increase year round in-stream flows and associated habitat improvement on this stretch. This is largely being driven by the Gross Reservation Expansion Project (“Moffat Firming Project”). When DW receives final permitting to construct the expansion, there will be an associated Environmental Pool constructed to house 5,000 AF of water for in-stream flow purposes, with water provided by Boulder and Lafayette.

The Project:
To help prepare for the implementation and execution of the Environmental Pool, and to maximize the opportunity this watershed improvement opportunity presents, we started working informally with the core stakeholders (DW, BW, LW, BOSMP) in the fall of 2017. We are now at a point where having a “master plan” for these efforts is needed. CWCB is tasked with implementing the Colorado Water Plan. Part of that is to fund watershed improvement projects across the State that align with the Water Plan goals. One type of grant is for a Stream Management Plan (SMP). We are applying for a reduced scope SMP (“Phase I”).

The major tasks are:

  • Formalize and expand our stakeholder group
  • Gain agreement on River Health Assessment methodology (biological, hydrological, and geo-morphological)
  • Collect, categorize and assess existing watershed data (scientific, engineering and other studies) to establish a baseline of work already completed
  • Gain agreement on Physical Infrastructure Assessment Methodology, and complete high level, conceptual designs for likely modifications needed to shepherd low flows through the stretch
  • Identify opportunities for habitat and infrastructure improvement, including fish passage, as well as opportunities for more efficient water use

Most of the needed volunteer time will be spent working with our project manager on stakeholder outreach, gathering and cataloging the existing data, helping with the scientific and engineering field tasks, and identifying Phase II implementation projects.

Update, February, 2018

Boulder Flycasters Launches South Boulder Creek Flow and Water Quality Initiatives

In October 2017 Boulder Flycasters (BFC), in cooperation with Colorado Trout Unlimited (CTU), launched an effort to address South Boulder Creek (SBC) in-stream, year-round flows and water quality improvements. The likely approval of the Gross Reservoir Expansion project within the next 12 to 18 months means that there will be renewed attention to this watershed. To gain permitting approvals, Denver Water, the owner of Gross Reservoir, committed to a number of watershed improvements and associated environmental monitoring. Additionally, the cities of Boulder and Lafayette, in cooperation with Denver Water, are also committed to improving in-stream, year-round water flows.

BFC’s efforts are being led by Rob McCormack, BFC president, and Stephen Brant, new board member and coordinator for these efforts. Many other BFC members have pitched in to help establish our objective and goals, provide background information, and to advise on technical issues. We also began discussions with Boulder’s and Lafayette’s water utilities, and Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, all with water rights, land and other stakes in improvements to SBC. CTU is also providing support and has the main contacts with Denver Water for when the time is right for working groups to meet.

As of this date, our goals and objectives are as follows:

GOAL: Build the needed collaborations, processes and organization to provide continuous improvement of water quality within the SBC watershed.

Objective 1: Develop a working collaboration between key stakeholders (city water utilities, ditch owners, the public) committed to improving year round, in-stream flows and water quality.

Objective 2: Facilitate the operation of an Environmental Pool within Gross Reservoir to provide sustainable, in-stream water flows year-round, as provided for in an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between Denver Water, Boulder Water and Lafayette Water. This includes a proposal to facilitate the operation of an interim Environmental Pool until the Gross Reservoir expansion is complete.

Objective 3: Help implement and support monitoring along SBC to build a database of key water quality measures. This is the most important near-term objective to get into place. To our knowledge there is no current comprehensive database of SBC water quality measures. Getting this started as soon as possible will help to build a baseline for monitoring and measurement. This database can then be used to make adjustments to water quality processes, measuring flows, and defining improvement and mitigation requirements.

Although still in the early stages of working through the issues and timelines to accomplish these goals, we are excited about the willingness of our working partners to achieve these ends. If you would like further information or to volunteer your help, please contact Stephen or Brendan via email.