U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
November 13, 2007
Terry Hickman – 801-226-7174
Debbie Felker – 303-969-7322, ext. 227
Water 2025 Challenge Grant Will Benefit Endangered Fish
LAKEWOOD-Colo. -- Endangered Colorado pikeminnows and razorback suckers in northeast Utah’s lower Duchesne River will get a helping hand from local water irrigation companies with the recent award of a $153,000 Water 2025 Challenge Grant to the Uintah Indian Irrigation Project Operations and Maintenance Company of Duchesne, Utah. The Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program (Recovery Program) will provide matching funds of $217,580 to modify the Myton Townsite Diversion Dam on the Duchesne River to help implement flow recommendations for the endangered fish. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved those recommendations in 2004 as required in a biological opinion the agency issued in 1998. The recommendations call for a regime of spring high flows and summer base flows to sustain native fish populations.
The award of this challenge grant is due, in part, to the efforts of the Duchesne River Work Group, a cooperative group formed in 2004, to implement the provisions of the biological opinion. Other work group participants are also contributing cash and in-kind services to complete the project. The Central Utah Water Conservancy District, Department of the Interior, Central Utah Project Office in Provo, Utah, and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) in Provo, Utah, are all participants.
“Water users, Central Utah Water Project personnel, and state and federal agencies have been working together to find ways to implement the recommended year-round flows,” said Environmental Programs Manager Terry Hickman, Central Utah Water Conservancy District. “We believe that rehabilitating this one diversion dam will be the key to providing the recommended flows for endangered fish in most years. In addition, water users will get a first-class diversion facility on the river that will deliver their full water rights. Also, the River Commissioner will have an automated facility that provides accurate measurements of river flows and irrigation diversions.
“It is important to emphasize the support of the Ute Indian Tribe in this project as well,” Hickman added. “The water project is operated by and for the tribe and benefits a large number of tribal water users in the Uintah basin. The tribal Business Committee is very supportive of this plan to improve the management of tribal water.”
Design of the new diversion has already begun and construction may begin this late fall, if weather permits. Otherwise construction will commence at the end of next irrigation season, in October 2008, and be completed by December 2008.
Administered by Reclamation, the Water 2025 Challenge Grant Program provides matching funds to irrigation and water districts, Western states, Tribes, and other local entities to develop innovative on-the-ground solutions to water supply problems. Applicants must provide at least 50 percent of the costs of a water project under the program.
The Recovery Program is a voluntary, cooperative program whose purpose is to recover the endangered fishes while water development proceeds in accordance with federal and state laws and interstate compacts. For more information, call 303-969-7322, ext. 227, or coloradoriverrecovery.fws.gov.
Photos of the Myton Townsite Diversion Dam and the presentation of the challenge grant are available by contacting: Debbie Felker, 303-969-7322, ext. 227, or firstname.lastname@example.org.