Grand County: Four mountain golf course offer fun, challenge |

Grand County: Four mountain golf course offer fun, challenge

In addition to its excellent wintertime skiing and great mountain biking in the summer, Grand County has become a Mecca for golfers with some of the best mountain courses to be found in the Rockies.Grand County has a total of four courses for golfers to enjoy. The oldest is the Grand Lake Golf Course, which opened in 1968, followed in 1985 by the Pole Creek Golf Course located outside of Tabernash in the Fraser Valley.The countys opportunities for golf were further enhanced in recent years by the opening of two courses in the Granby area. In 2001, the Headwaters Golf Course at Granby Ranch opened its fairways to golfers, followed in 2002 by the Grand Elk Golf Course.Grand LakeCourse name: Grand Lake Golf CourseWebsite: http://www.grandlakegolf.coAddress: 1415 County Road 48, Grand LakePhone number: (970) 627-8872 or (970) 627-8008Type: Public, 18 hole regulationGreen fees: 18 holes, $64; 9 holes, $49Tee times: Call 970-627-8008 for reservations. Weekdays: call seven days in advance.Weekends & Holidays: Can call at 7:00 a.m.Dress code: Shirt and shoes required.Designer: Dick PhelpsTee boxes: Women Red 5,678; Front 9, 35.1/128; Back 9, 35.9/131; 18-hole, 71.0/129Women White 6,310 yards; Front 9, 36.9/135; Back 9, 37.4/141; 18-hole, 74.3/139Men White 6,316 yards; Front 9, 34.6/118; Back 9, 34.9/115; 18-hole, 69.5/117Men Blue 6,542 yards; Front 9, 35.1/121; Back 9, 35.4/117; 18-hole, 70.5/119Practice: A driving range and putting green are available.Amenities: restaurant/lounge, pro shop, beverage cart.Misc. info: Known as the Crown Jewel of Mountain Courses, the Grand Lake Golf Course is an 18-hole championship golf course, carved out of the woods at an elevation of 8,420 feet bordering Rocky Mountain National Park. Its narrowly rolling fairways surround well-tended, subtle greens. The majestic Rocky Mountains, some still capped by the winter snows, tower high above golfers offering exclusive and unique panoramic views. Directions: From Denver or Steamboat, take US Hwy 34 East at the intersection of US Hwy 40 and Highway 34 and go 16 miles to County Road 48 and turn left at the sign marked Golf Course Road. From Estes Park, take the road over Trail Ridge Pass, after leaving the park exit gate, go to County Road 48 and at the Golf Course sign, turn right at the sign marked Golf Course Road.Pole CreekCourse name: Pole Creek Golf Club – Meadow/RanchWebsite: http://www.polecreekgolf.comAddress: 5827 County Road 51, Tabernash, CO 80478Phone number: 800-511-5076Type: Public, 27-hole regulationGreen fees: $69-$99Tee times: Call 970-887-9195 for reservations. Registration can be done 30 days online. Call for reservation if further out than 30 days.Dress code: Collared shirt, spikeless shoes, no cut-offs.Designer: Denis GriffithsTee boxes: Women Red 4,928 yards; Front 9, 34.4/124; Back 9, 34.6/130; 18-hole, 69.0/127Women Gold 5,497 yards; Front 9, 35.4/138; Back 9, 36.1/138; 18-hole, 71.5/138Women White 6,398 yards; Front 9, 38.0/151; Back 9, 38.6/155; 18-hole, 76.6/153Men Gold 5,571 yards; Front 9, 33.0/117; Back 9, 33.5/128; 18-hole, 66.5/122Men White 6,413 yards; Front 9, 34.9/137; Back 9, 36.1/131; 18-hole, 71.0/135Men Blue 7,107 yards; Front 9, 36.6/142; Back 9, 37.1/148; 18-hole, 73.7/145Practice: Grass driving range, putting green and separate chipping green with sand bunker.Amenities: Pro shop are available. On-site catering with clubhouse, restaurant and beverage cart service.Misc. info: Golfers can treat themselves to 27 holes of classic mountain golf on Pole Creeks three distinct courses: The Ranch, The Meadow and The Ridge. Pole Creeks design incorporates existing lodgepole pine, valley meadows, sagebrush and a variety of water hazards including five lakes to create a diverse course appealing to a wide range of golfers. The Ranch 9 and The Meadow 9 wander through lush fields, while The Ridge 9 showcases what golf pro JT Thompson calls the most spectacular view in Colorado.Directions: Take I-70 to Exit 232 (Hwy 40), and go north through Winter Park. At the 220 mile-marker, turn left and follow signs to the course.HeadwatersCourse name: Headwaters Golf Course at Granby RanchWebsite: http://www.granbyranch.comAddress: 2579 County Road 894, Granby, CO 80446Phone number: (970) 887-2709Type: Public, 18-hole regulationGreen fees: $60-$80Tee Times: Available online or call the pro shop.Dress code: Traditional golf attire.Designer: Mike AsmundsonTee boxes: Women Rose 5,310 yards; Front 9, 34.3/118; Back 9, 33.8/123; 18-hole, 68.1/121Women Green 6,024 yards; Front 9, 36.3/123; Back 9, 35.9/131; 18-hole, 72.2/127Men Green 6,024 yards; Front 9, 33.9/115; Back 9, 33.3/111; 18-hole, 67.2/113Men White 6,602 yards; Front 9, 35.1/122; Back 9, 34.9/120; 18-hole, 70.0/121Men Gold 7,210 yards; Front 9, 36.5/131; Back 9, 36.4/122; 18-hole, 72.9/127Practice: Grass driving range and putting green.Amenities: Driving range (double-ended), 3 practice greens, John Jacobs Golf School, snack bar & grill, indoor/outdoor seating, GPSMisc. info: The Headwaters Golf Course is set amid the beauty of the Fraser River Valley just outside the town of Granby. Headwaters provides a beautiful and challenging round of golf for players of all abilities. Elevated tees offer splendid views of mountains, wetlands and lush alpine meadows. Its groomed fairways wind around strategically placed bunkers, lakes and ponds.Directions: Take I-70 to U.S. Hwy 40. Go west about 42 miles to the Headwaters Golf Course/Sol Vista Ski Area entrance. Follow signs east 1.5 miles to course. Grand ElkCourse name: Grand Elk Ranch & ClubWebsite: 1300 Ten Mile Drive, Granby, CO 80446Phone number: 887-389-9333Type: Semi-private, 18-hole regulationTee Times: Call 970-887-9122 for reservations. Seven days in advance. Members only until 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.Dress Code: Collared shirt, no jeans.Designer: Craig Stadler and Tripp Davis Tee boxes: Women Gold 5,092 yards; Front 9, 34.5/120; Back 9, 35.0/128; 18-hole, 69.5/124Women Green 5,611 yards; Front 9, 35.5/126; Back 9, 36.1/134; 18-hole, 71.6/130Women White 6,233 yards; Front 9, 37.5/132; Back 9, 37.4/145; 18-hole, 74.9/139Men Green 5,611 yards; Front 9, 32.9/116; Back 9, 33.9/114; 18-hole, 66.8/115Men White 6,233 yards; Front 9, 34.6/126; Back 9, 34.7/116; 18-hole, 69.3/120Men Blue 6,608 yards; Front 9, 35.4/126; Back 9, 35.8/128; 18-hole, 71.2/127Men Black 6,997 yards; Front 9, 36.1/127; Back 9, 36.4/132; 18-hole, 72.5/130Practice: Grass driving range and putting green.Amenities: Clubhouse and restaurant, on-site catering and GPS included with cart fee.Misc. info: The Grand Elk Golf Course is a par 71 masterwork playing 7,144 yards from the back tees. Echoing the attributes of traditional Heathland courses in the British Isles, the course features gently rolling fairways and strategically placed hazards. The variations in tee boxes will provide a test for the low handicapper or a fun round for the recreational golfer.Directions: Take I-70 west to Hwy 40. Take Hwy 40 north to Granby. The course is southwest of Granby off of Hwy 40. Turn left on Thompson Drive (at City Market), then right on Ten Mile Drive and follow to clubhouse.

To spill or not to spill: Weather, Front Range reservoirs, key factors in pumping regimen

Forecasters with Northern Water say Lake Granby could spill as early as next week, but full reservoirs on the Front Range and high runoff have left officials on the fence over possible pumping through Grand Lake. Typically, reservoirs on the Front Range fill by May, which lowers Lake Granby enough to accept additional water during runoff season, said Kara Lamb with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. But flooding on the East Slope in September, coupled with additional precipitation and runoff, have kept Carter and Horsetooth reservoirs, the Colorado-Big Thompson Project's main draw points for Front Range water users, too full to accept much water. Add above-average runoff on the Western Slope to the equation, and there is a fair amount of uncertainty whether the Alva B. Adams Tunnel will have anywhere to transport water if and when Lake Granby spills. "There could be a little pumping to help with the spill situation," said Brian Werner with Northern Water. "It's dependent on this side of the mountains, and if there's any room to put any water, so demands really haven't started, and like I said, we're full everywhere." There's a possibility that pumping could be halted until Labor Day, Werner said. For Grand Lake residents, pumping can mean the difference between pristine clarity and a cloudy lake. Last year, reduced pumping saw the clarity of natural Grand Lake increase, while the shallower Shadow Mountain Reservoir became more turbid. "If there is not going to be any pumping, I think that what happened last year in both Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain is a good idea of what to expect," said Esther Vincent, water quality manager with Northern Water. Vincent added that, in the case of reduced or no pumping, Shadow Mountain Reservoir may get some reprieve this year due to runoff. The increased flow from runoff could keep the water temperature in Shadow Mountain Lake lower, which would inhibit algae blooms that would normally cloud the lake. "When there's no movement of water, the water gets pretty still," Vincent said. "The surface water gets quite a bit warmer. That's optimal conditions for algae to grow." But it's all tentative at this point, said Andrew Gilmore with the Bureau of Reclamation. "Essentially all of the reservoirs over here are almost full," he said from Loveland, "so if we're going to be running the tunnel, it's going to be 250 cfs or less, so half of its capacity or less," Gilmore said. "And it really depends on if there is any space over here at all." Lake Granby nears limits As of July 3, Lake Granby was at 2.6 feet from capacity, with levels rising around a third of a foot per day. Werner, of Northern, said if the lake does spill, forecasters expect it to do so between July 10 and July 14. "Our forecaster, who I just talked to, said we're still 50-50 on whether we're going to spill," Werner said. Spilling is not a very common occurrence for Lake Granby. The last time the lake spilled was in 2011, and before that it was in 2000. The large amount of snowpack has led to above-average flows this year, and reservoirs on the Front Range are already near capacity. Specifically, Carter Lake is at 99 percent full, while Horsetooth Reservoir is 99.2 percent full, according to the Bureau of Reclamation's website. The Farr Pumping Plant has not been pumping since May 18, Werner said. There was only 84 cfs of flow through Adams Tunnel on Thursday, July 3, according to Lamb. There is also a small amount of water flowing through the Lake Granby spillway due to maintenance on the spillway's valves. For now, officials will be monitoring weather over the Fourth of July weekend to determine if additional water can be sent to the Front Range. "You're balancing your water supply, and this year, we have an above-average snowpack and an above-average water supply to balance," Lamb said. Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.

Glenwood Canyon daytime closure Tuesday

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will move forward with a full closure of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8. Daytime closure will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m from exit 116 (Glenwood Springs) to exit 133 (Dotsero). Weather permitting, crews are planning to utilize a helicopter to put rockfall netting in place on the slope where the original slide occurred. The construction team will also take the opportunity to continue road repairs on both the westbound and eastbound decks. Safety closures of the Hanging Lake, Grizzly Creek and Shoshone rest areas remain in effect while traffic is in the head-to-head configuration. Bair Ranch (on the east side) and No Name (west side) rest areas will remain open. The Glenwood Canyon Bike Path remains closed as well. (Please note, local traffic coming from the west can travel as far as No Name; local traffic from the east can travel as far as Bair Ranch during this daytime closure.) ALTERNATE ROUTES/TRAFFIC IMPACTS: Front Range motorists/Summit County/westbound motorists CO 9 (Silverthorne) to US 40 (Steamboat Springs) west on US 40 (Craig) south to CO 13 (Rifle) Eagle County/westbound motorists CO 131 at Wolcott to Steamboat Springs, west on US 40 to Craig, then south on CO 13 to Rifle and back to I-70. This is a 203-mile alternate route that will take about three hours and 50 minutes to travel. This detour adds 146 miles and about three hours to a regular trip from Wolcott to Rifle on I-70, which is 67 miles or about 45 minutes. South alternate route Uses US 50. Access to US 50 is available via Grand Junction for eastbound drivers and for westbound drivers by way of US 24/285 through the Salida area from the Front Range. (Please note, there is construction on US 24 over Trout Creek Pass east of Johnson Village in Chaffee County into early March; some blasting and up to 30-minute delays may be encountered.)

Kremming’s inaugural Redneck Mudshuffle a success

Engines roared and the mud flew through the air as drivers attempted to race their pickup trucks over the muddy course of the Redneck Mudshuffle & Calcutta at the fairgrounds in Kremmling on Sunday, May 25. A total of 28 teams competed in Sundays contest. Under the rules of the competition, each team had to make two runs over the course with the combined time determining the teams results. Each team was required to have two drivers, each of whom had to make one of the runs.Another requirement under the races rules was that none of the vehicles were allowed to be more than 500 horsepower. The success of each team was based on teamwork and driving skill, not horsepower.The complete results for last Sundays Redneck Mudshuffle & Calcutta are: 1. Gully/Scuzzaro, 78.23; 2. Timmerman/Fobert, 82.01; 3. Valencia, 82.57; 4. McMahon/Debroot, 82.64; 5. Shirado, 82.89; 6. Bauer, 84.98; 7. Redding/Soefker, 85.67; 8. Suppes/Ulrick, 87.68; 9. Omara/Keim, 88.35; 10. Kennedy, 88.55; 11. Phipps, 92.27; 12. Docheff/Gore, 94.2; 13. Higgins/Terryberry, 95.4; 14. Onken/VanNatta, 95.42; 15. Sheppardson/Colter, 98.72; 16. Cherry/Davis, 99.85; 17. Scott, 101.03; 17. Collins/Cherry, 103.91; 18. Johnson/Barr, 104.07; 19. Tamburelli/Scuzzaro, 104.79; 20. Johnson/Menhennett, 106.66; 21. Smith, 109.74; 22. Meyer/Rusher, 110.17; 23. Smith/Reckker, 112.15; 24. Blakesky/Deschene, 113.22; 25. Jones/Wilson, 115.6; 26. Acord/Reed, 117.58; 27. Docheff, 117.82; Higgins/Joyce, DQ.

Murky Shadow indicates clarity problems

GRAND LAKE – This summer's six week stop-pump benefited clarity in Grand Lake, but had bad consequences for water quality in Shadow Mountain Reservoir. Water quality managers have confirmed what locals and summer recreaters at Shadow Mountain reservoir suspected as they gazed at its murky green waters. The Farr Pumping Plant's shutdown from July to early September created the worse algae bloom seen in years. It's a highly visible indicator of the looming challenges in finding a solution to Grand County's West Slope water collection system, which moves Colorado River Water through Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain and Grand Lake to the Front Range. This summer's algae growth was a result of the trade-off between clarity in Grand Lake and quality in its adjoining reservoir. "If there's any take-home message from what we saw, it's that what was beneficial to Grand Lake was not beneficial to Shadow Mountain," said Esther Vincent, water quality manager with Northern Water Conservancy District. According to Vincent, Shadow Mountain's algae bloom was even worse than the glop seen in 2007, which followed a drawdown of the reservoir after chronic aquatic weed issues. In 2006, water managers drained Shadow Mountain low enough to expose and freeze weeds. But once it refilled, organic material became suspended in the water column and became food for a massive bloom of the slimy green organisms. "That was one of the water quality events that triggered lots of interest from local stakeholders in water quality in Three Lakes and in Grand Lake," Vincent said. Starting in 2008, those stakeholders worked with the Bureau of Reclamation to experiment with pumping suspensions at Lake Granby. They then evaluated its effects on clarity in Shadow Mountain and Grand Lake. In 2008 and 2009, the stop-pumping lasted around two weeks. An unusually high runoff season and low Front Range demand resulted in a long shutdown of the pumps in 2011, lasting from late May to early September. In all cases, water clarity in Grand Lake noticeably improved. But in Shadow Mountain, results were mixed. "That's typical of the unintended consequences," said Grand County Manager Lurline Underbrink-Curran. "Shadow Mountain is always algae and weed-laden, but the stop pump gives it more time to grow." Grand County, local water managers and the Bureau of Reclamation have long explored options for improving Grand Lake's water clarity. The natural lake's water becomes compromised each summer as water moves up from Lake Granby, through Shadow Mountain, into Grand Lake and under the Continental Divide as part of the Colorado-Big Thompson water collection system. A Bureau of Reclamation Grand Lake Water Clarity Technical Review and Work Plan, released Monday, Oct. 28, identified gaps in researchers' understanding about water quality issues in the Three Lakes system. The plan called water quality in Shadow Mountain an important secondary consideration in controlling clarity levels in Grand Lake. The two water bodies are linked, and there's a possibility poor water quality in the reservoir could outweigh clarity benefits in the lake. Over the last few years, the Bureau of Reclamation, Grand County, Northern Water and other stakeholders have identified a gamut of options for addressing clarity issues in Grand Lake. Structural changes could include completely bypassing Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain with a new system, installing oxygenation equipment at Shadow Mountain or dredging the reservoir to make it deeper. Non-structural changes could involve a continuation of the stop-pumping process, pumping water at a more steady flow, or doing nothing at all. Before any of these options can be put into action, the plan developed a 10-task timeline to fill informational holes and aid in the selection of a Grand Lake clarity solution. Each of the 10 tasks is staggering in scope. "This provides a road map," said Carlie Ronca with the Bureau of Reclamation. "What we're going to do is review the scopes of alternatives and move into design work – if the budget is available." Beyond design and budget, Ronca noted other daunting processes ahead, like obtaining environmental permitting. Resumed pumping and heavy September rains have helped clear Shadow Mountain once again. Cold temperatures will quell any more organic growth, at least until next summer. Late last August, just before the Farr Plant's pump fired up again, Vincent visited the reservoir with some stakeholders interested in its noxious aquatic weed growth. "But when we got there, you could not even see aquatic weeds because (the reservoir) was so green," she said. "You couldn't see through the water." For the near-term, it seems a solution to the Three Lakes' water clarity problems will also remain out of sight. Leia Larsen can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.

Grand Lake Bowling League Results

Las Vegas LeagueJan. 27For the women, Kathy Burke bowled the high scratch game (231) and high scratch series (576). Suzi Maki scored the high handicap game (279), and Brenda Freeman and Melissa Humble tied for the high handicap series at 667.For the men, David Freeman took both high scratch game (226) and high scratch series (598) honors. Kenneth Clark bowled the high handicap game (276), while Garey Sutherby turned in the high handicap series at 712.The latest standings were:TeamWLDiamonds in the Ruff43 25The Rollers4226Bear It All3731It Happens Shhh36.531.5Just Sizzlin3038Up Your Alley2939Grand Lake Lanes27.5 40.5Ace Pluming2642Louies Ladies LeagueFeb. 2Monday Night Louies Ladies Leagues Just Us stayed on top of the team rankings, while Autumn Fisher dominated the lanes with high scratch game (217), high handicap game (257) and high handicap series (668). Rhonda Busse took high scratch series honors with a 551.The post-Feb. 2 standings were:TeamWLJust Us5628Fallen Angels4638Frickin Five Pin4436Lane Hoppers41.542.5Spare Me4143The D Team4044The Gumballs36.547.5Plumb Bobs3153Feb. 9Krys Boy dominated Louies Ladies League knocking over the most pins in every category with high game scratch of 211, high game handicap of 248, high series scratch of 541 and high series handicap, 652 .The post-Feb. 9 standings were:TeamWLJust Us5929Fallen Angels5038Lane Hoppers45.542.5Spare Me4543Frickin Five Pin4439The D Team4048The Gumballs36.551.5Plumb Bobs3256Wednesday Mens leagueBobby Blea had the hot hand, bowling the high handicap game (280) and the high handicap series (732). Arnie Johnson bowled the high scratch game (237), and John McDowell turned in the high scratch series at 650.The latest standings were:TeamWLAlpine Taxidermy35.520.5Heckerts Cleaners31 wins25Power World30.525.5Grumpys Old Men2927BAll Nite Long2828Team Five2333Drink Pillage & Plunder2214 lossesGapers028Thursday Morning Lady BugsFeb. 5Terry Pratt bowled the high scratch (195) and handicap (229) games and high series scratch (500). Yvonne Prather kept her high series handicap title with a score of 622.The post-Feb. 5 standings were:Team WLTeam Rufra137Batman & Robin119Spare Mades1010Jill & Janet812Terry P. & Cindy812Debbie & Yvonne713Feb. 12Terry Pratt had the hot hand again bowling high game scratch (176), high series scratch (513), and high series handicap (615). High game handicap honors went to Sharon Iacovetto with a score of 223.The post-Feb. 12 standings were:TeamWLTeam Rufra1410Batman & Robin1410Terry P & Cindy1212Jill & Janet1113Spare Mades1113Debbie & Yvonne717

With new pumping operation in place, all eyes on clarity

On a still, clear morning in Grand Lake, the surface of the water looks so motionless, like one single 600-acre pane of glass, that it's hard to imagine it could be in a constant state of flow. And yet, mountain streams and the channel from shadow mountain feed water into the lake on all sides while, simultaneously, a large sub-surface intake sucks water out of the lake and down the 13 miles of the Alva B. Adams Tunnel toward farms and houses on the east slope. That imperceptible flow has, over time, taken plumes of sediment and vegetation from the shallow waters of Shadow Mountain Reservoir into the depths of Grand Lake. In late June, representatives from the Bureau of Reclamation presented a plan to the Three Lakes Watershed Association outlining a new pumping schedule for the Adams tunnel intended to improve the clarity issues in Grand Lake. The tunnel will now draw an almost constant 250 cubic-feet-per-second, less than half of its 550 cfs maximum and roughly equivalent to the flow of a small stream. The new "low and steady" operation was set to go into effect on July 1, but was delayed to July 8, according to Bureau of Reclamation public affairs officer Tyler Johnson. It's too early to conclude much from the clarity data gathered since the shift, but a brief analysis of the clarity data published by Northern Water from June 8 to July 27 shows a decrease in average clarity after the shift in pumping systems. A comparison to the same period in 2015 also shows a decrease in average clarity. The new pumping operation will stay in place through September 11, and the overall effect of the process may take years to unfold. Clarity readings in the lake have been recorded since 1941, when the measuring tool, a ten-inch white disk called a Secchi disk, could be seen nine meters below the surface, or about 27 feet. More recent Secchi disk readings have hovered between three and four meters, but have reached as deep as 21 feet and as shallow as three feet in the last five years in certain monitoring locations. For comparison, Lake Tahoe in California averaged a Secchi disk reading of 73 feet in 2015. In June, the Grand Lake Clarity Adaptive Management Group, including representatives from Grand County and Northern Water, set a clarity standard for the lake of 3.8 meters, and that it not go below 2.5 meters. Since the pumping schedule change, average Secchi disk depth on Grand Lake has been observed at 3.39 meters.

Spill, baby, spill: Lake Granby likely to flow over dam within 10 days

GRAND COUNTY – Sitting just 5 feet from full on Thursday, Lake Granby was on course to spill. The last time the lake (also known as Granby Reservoir) had water flowing down the spillway was in 2000. Such an event of greater than 75 cfs flowing at the Near Granby Gauge would be a long-awaited gift to the Colorado River between the Lake Granby Dam and Windy Gap, said Jon Ewert, DOW aquatics biologist in Hot Sulphur Springs. That section of the Colorado has been deprived of flushing flows because of the dam built for reservoir storage. “It would be beneficial to that stretch,” Ewert said, “it would move sediment out and clean out riffles (stretches of gravel where fish like to spawn and where insect production is).” “What we will do, when a spill is imminent, is max out the release from the bottom of the reservoir,” said Water Northern Conservancy District spokesperson Brian Werner. The reason for the controlled release is to avoid water going over the top of the spillway, he said. “We’ll do everything in our power to minimize that.” Northern plans to institute a call list for downstream property owners to warn them of the possible spill with increased river flows, Werner said. The Granby Reservoir spilled each year from 1995 to 2000. In each of those years there were controlled releases through the bottom of the dam with about two days of water going over the spillway, according to Werner. Spills have lasted from a couple of days to 10 days. Flows in the river from a spill can exceed 400 cfs. In 1996 and 1997, water flows at the spill exceeded 2,000 cfs. “We don’t anticipate getting anywhere near that high this year,” Werner said. With runoff peaking last week, the Northern Water Conservancy District was moving water out of Shadow Mountain Reservoir into Granby Reservoir, releasing by as much as 5,000 cfs for a period of 12 hours. In the Colorado-Big Thompson system, Shadow Mountain Reservoir helps to maintain a constant surface elevation in natural Grand Lake and is a conduit between Granby Reservoir and Grand Lake. Heightened runoff in Grand Lake inlets caused that lake to rise, which by Colorado-Big Thompson decree is not allowed to fluctuate by more than 1 foot. As far as Granby Reservoir’s chances for spilling, “We’re 99 percent sure it’s going to spill,” Werner said. The lake is rising about .5 feet per day, which means the lake could spill within about 10 days. “If at the start of the year you said we were going to spill, we would have laughed,” he continued. “It shows what can change in a water year in just a couple of months.” Pumping at Willow Creek is planned to be minimal, with one of the pumps turned off today, June 18. Northern plans to cut the other pump when “absolutely assured Granby spills,” Werner said. Northern is not sending water through the Adams Tunnel with Front Range reservoirs full. Windy Gap, which pumped 6,700 acre-feet, has pumps shut off. – Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail

Grand County deserves credit for making water deal

The rivers are still gushing this year. The ground is still wet in many places from a winter that gave us an above-average dump of snow. Drought is the farthest thing from most people’s minds, and paying for excess water in a year when we don’t really need it may seem unnecessary. But we would like to congratulate the Grand County commissioners for their forward thinking decision last month to pay a subdistrict of Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District so the county can pump excess water into Lake Granby. On Tuesday, June 24, county commissioners voted to spend $57,500 to use the subdistrict’s pumps to move 1,500 acre-feet of water into Lake Granby. This is a one-time deal the county took advantage of after Northern and other water rights holders had satisfied their rights and unappropriated water was left in the river. The idea came from Grand County’s water engineer Jeff Clark, who brought up the notion at a June meeting with irrigators. Northern agreed to let us pump the water “at cost,” asking only for money to cover the cost of electricity. The deal is only good through late summer, when commissioners hope the 1,500 acre-feet can be used to increase river flows for the health of the fish and the river itself, commissioner James Newberry said last week. And while we may see immediate benefits this summer, the true benefits of this decision will be seen in the long term. Water and decisions about its ownership have been historically difficult. But last month, we reached out and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy accepted. Last week’s decision was indeed a breakthrough for the future of water in Grand County, which includes talks with Denver Water and Northern. A door has been opened. In the future, when we again meet at the negotiating table to discuss more difficult water decisions, compromise will theoretically be easier because it will not be unprecedented.

Cure for lake’s clarity issues remain murky

Halfway along the canal that connects Grand Lake with Shadow Mountain Reservoir, Bill Mueller often notices something floating with the current other than boats. Clumps of weeds make their way along pumping flows from the reservoir toward natural Grand Lake. Sometimes they are deposited near the shore where the canal slightly bends, other times they are carried into the natural lake where they become part of an altered lake bed. “Some of them can be 3-foot diameter clumps of weeds, sometimes it’s just a few,” said Mueller, who often spends retirement hours reading on his porch overlooking the canal. Mueller said weeds didn’t appear until the Northern Water Conservancy District resumed pumping water this summer. The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which supplies water to users from Broomfield to Fort Collins, was pumping water at the beginning of May, then shut off the pumps at the end of May and into June while heavy natural spring runoff filled Front Range and West Slope reservoirs to near capacity. During that runoff time, the clarity in Grand Lake decreased as high inflows brought a lot of suspended solids into the system, according to data from the Grand County Water Information Network, which records clarity readings from various parts of reservoirs and lakes. The readings show that Grand Lake clarity increased significantly as snowmelt subsided and as lake temperatures rose, all the while water flowed in its natural direction during ceased pumping activity. But clarity deteriorated again around the time pumps were turned back on as temperatures increased and Shadow Mountain Reservoir water flowed into Grand Lake, according to the Network. Northern returned to pumping at 194 cfs on July 1, increased pumping, then dropped down to 225 cfs on July 18, according to Northern. Now nearly halfway through an eight-week experimental pumping regimen, the utility is hoping slow moving water pumped at a lower rate will prevent an algae bloom in shallow Shadow Mountain Reservoir, caused by water sitting too long in hot summer. This is the third summer where such pumping experiments have taken place. This year, because the system will be out of commission in October for replacement of the dam and walking bridge at the connection of Grand Lake to the canal, the utility is trying something different: instead of shutting pumps off for a two-week period in late summer, it is moving water at 225 cfs for eight weeks. A 2009 study conducted by Associate Director for the Center for Limnology of University of Colorado, Boulder, James McCutchan, confirms that the shallowness of Shadow Mountain Reservoir causes high temperatures in the lake, leading to increased algae production and higher levels of suspended solids. When pumping is turned on, this water is transferred to Grand Lake, which experts believe reduces its transparency. McCutchan’s study found that non-algal particulate matter, which may include sediment, decaying leaves, weeds and dead algae, have the most direct impact to Grand Lake clarity, materials carried into the lake from Shadow Mountain Reservoir. “They own those water rights,” Mueller said about Northern’s ability to transfer water through the system. “I just wish we could get it there without pumping it through Grand Lake. In my opinion, it’s harmful to Grand Lake.” Northern maintains that clarity problems in Grand Lake could be created by many other factors, such as nutrient levels from surrounding development and summer’s rising water temperatures. A “Three Lakes Technical Advisory Team” through Northern’s multi-year “Nutrient Project” is charged with studying ongoing problems in the Three Lakes region, with an eventual look toward solutions to the problems. The team comprises representatives from Grand County, the Colorado River Water Conservation District, several watershed organizations, the EPA, Northern, the U.S. Geological Survey, Division of Wildlife, Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Forest Service, Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, Colorado Department of Health and Environment and the City of Fort Collins. Presently, the Advisory Team is studying the surrounding Grand Lake watershed for potential sources of pollution. In 2008, the state Water Quality Control Division assigned a 4 meters, or 13.2 feet, clarity standard for Grand Lake starting in 2014 – the first clarity standard of its kind in Colorado. The ruling states the 4-meter clarity mark will be the standard unless a more appropriate standard is identified. That will be a target that Northern will need to achieve in spite of operations. For this reason, Northern has been searching for an operational alternative that might accommodate the standard. The low flows of 225 cfs for eight weeks, less than half of the system’s full flow capacity, is intended to keep Shadow Reservoir water “fresh.” The pump regimen came from a recommendation by Northern’s Water Quality Consultant Dr. Jean Marie Boyer, who has been studying water quality at the three lakes for more than a decade. She determined the flows are low enough so not to spill East Slope reservoirs, said Jeff Drager, project manager at Northern. “We’re not moving as much water, but enough to keep it fresh and from going stagnant,” he said. “We’re trying to find a balance that keeps the weeds down as best as we can.”