American Whitewater Colorado River Basin Flow Survey

Drew Beezley

American Whitewater is asking for paddler input on flows and recreation quality for rivers across the Southwestern United States. Whether you live in Boston or Jensen, UT, your honest participation in our study will help us identify the full range of streamflows that provide recreational opportunities on some of the most important rivers in the West.

We will use this data to help evaluate impacts to whitewater boating under future water supply scenarios being developed under the US Bureau of Reclamation’s (BOR) Colorado River Basin Study.

Click here to take the survey!

The BOR, in collaboration with representatives of each of the seven Colorado River Basin States, is studying current and future imbalances in water supply and demand in the Colorado River basin. Together with the BOR, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California are working to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies to resolve the identified imbalances. This large-scale effort to characterize future imbalances in water supply in the West, includes an assessment of risks to Basin resources, such as wildlife, fish, water quality, and recreation.

In June 2011, the BOR released it’s first Interim Report for the Basin Study, which describe a series of metrics that will be used to indicate the ability of the Colorado River system to meet the needs of Basin Resources under multiple future conditions. While recreational resources were reported to include whitewater boating, the BOR determined that whitewater boating “cannot be directly measured” and selected a qualitative-type metric for whitewater boating. A qualitative metric will not measure the potential loss (or gain) of whitewater paddling opportunities, and therefore does not help protect recreation or healthy river flows!

In response, American Whitewater met with Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, and BOR staff to demonstrate the value and methodology for developing quantitative metrics for whitewater boating – how can we measure the change to boating opportunities under future scenarios. AW has extensive experience in describing the effects of flow on recreation opportunities, and have negotiated “boatable days” in over 100 FERC licenses, Resource Management Plans, and local watershed initatives. In September, staff from AW and HYDROS Consulting reached an agreement with BOR to develop a “boatable days’ metric for a suite of whitewater rivers in the Colorado River basin. In order to develop the “boatable days” metric, American Whitewater must first define the range of flows that provide recreational opportunities – too low, optimal, and too high.

This survey is designed to allow paddlers to report their runs, and evaluate specific flows on our targeted river segments. Your input will help AW define whitewater recreation across the Colorado River basin, and protect our recreational resources into the future – TAKE OUR SURVEY TODAY!

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