Since 2013 the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District has progressed with the development of the White River Storage Project/Wolf Creek Reservoir for multiple uses within the White River basin. Since project initiation RBWCD has completed considerable analysis to firm up the off-channel Wolf Creek Reservoir as the preferred alternative; continued refinement of purpose and need; economic/financial plan; and best method of fill.
In January 2021 RBWCD obtained a conditional storage water right of 66,720 acre-feet. Decreed uses for water stored in the new reservoir will include municipal water for the Town of Rangely and replacement water that can be released to offset future water uses within the District boundaries and within the Yellow Jacket Water Conservancy District (YJWCD). The YJWCD includes portions of eastern Rio Blanco County, Moffat County, and the Town of Meeker. Other uses for the stored water include water to mitigate impacts associated with the reservoir, hydroelectric power generation, and in-reservoir uses for the recreation, fisheries, and wildlife habitat.
To aid in water development within the White River, system the District continues to work with the Upper Colorado River Recovery Program, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Nature Conservancy, the State of Utah, and the Ute Indian Tribe to determine the water needs for the recovery of endangered fish as part of the White River Management Plan and Programmatic Biological Opinion.
Wolf Creek Reservio is part of Colorado's Water Plan that calls for the development of 400,000 acre-feet of new water storage in Colorado. Upon completion, the new reservoir will provide more than 15 percent of the new water storage in the Colorado Water Plan. It will be a reservoir located in Western Colorado that provides water specifically for west sloper water users.
Wolf Creek Reservoir will allow a small portion of the White River runoff water volume to be stored in the reservoir each year. This water will then be released from storage to offset reduced river flows during periods of droughts, meet the needs of the District's constituents and partners, and to help offset the effects of climate change on future river diversions.
RBWCD will continue to progress focussing on the dire needs for water resiliency and the economic security a firm water supply will provide. This includes the continued coordinated development of the White River Management Plan, a Programmatic Biological Opinion for endangered species, implementation of a streamlined permitting process, finalizing project Purpose and Need, a firm financial plan, and continued stakeholder outreach.
For more information please contact Alden Vanden Brink, Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District Manager, at (970) 675-5055.