July 11, 2023

Video Provides Overview of Project’s West Slope Environmental Commitments

Beneficiaries of the Chimney Hollow Reservoir Project go beyond the 12 communities and water providers who will use its additional water supplies and recreationists who will enjoy the new amenities. Add to that list the aquatic life and environment along stretches of the Colorado River in Grand County, as well as residents and visitors to that area.  

Since Chimney Hollow Reservoir will be filled using Colorado River water rights associated with the existing Windy Gap Project, Chimney Hollow participants and Northern Water’s Municipal Subdistrict have agreed to numerous environmental commitments in the watershed above and below Windy Gap. The objective of these mitigation and enhancement measures is to vastly improve the overall health of this stretch of river. This effort has brought together a variety of diverse partners with the same goal, including Grand County, Trout Unlimited, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Colorado River District and the Colorado Water Conservation Board, among many others. 

Altogether, there are $90 million in West Slope environmental measures associated with construction of Chimney Hollow Reservoir, the focal point being the Colorado River Connectivity Channel (CRCC). The CRCC calls for reconnecting two segments of the Colorado River around what will be a much smaller Windy Gap Reservoir, in order to make that segment of the river function more as a natural system for fish and supporting aquatic life. The connecting channel will also be open to the public for recreation once construction is completed.  

In addition to the CRCC, there are several other important components to the West Slope environmental commitments made by the project participants and Northern Water’s Municipal Subdistrict, including:  

  • Collaborative efforts to improve stream channel, riparian and wetland areas above and below Windy Gap Reservoir 
  • Upgrades to the Fraser Wastewater Treatment Plant to reduce downstream levels of phosphorous, metals and nitrogen 
  • Additional water supplies for Grand County and the Middle Park Water Conservancy District 
  • Water releases into the Colorado River to support beneficial flushing flows during spring runoff 
  • Operational changes when needed to improve river temperatures for fish and other aquatic life  
  • Public access amenities at some of the restored sites along the river and connectivity channel   

This new video provides an overview of the West Slope environmental measures associated with construction of Chimney Hollow Reservoir. A full list of these commitments can also be found on the Chimney Hollow Reservoir website.