CWCB Approves Appropriation of Instream Flow on San Miguel

The San Miguel River, a 70-mile ribbon of water that flows from the north side of Wasatch Mountain to a desert canyon in Montrose County, isn’t a river that experiences huge flows. Even during spring runoff, the river normally stays below 1,500 cfs, and in winter months, it drops to less than 100 cfs. A recent decision by a state water board aims to ensure that the flows in the lower San Miguel aren’t depleted to levels that threaten river wildlife. In September the Colorado Water Conservation Board voted 8 to 1 to appropriate an instream flow for the lower San Miguel River and directed staff to file for a water right with the water court. Instream flows are decreed to maintain flows to preserve the natural environment to a reasonable degree.. The recommended minimum flows for the San Miguel range from 80 cfs (from Sept. 1-Feb. 29) to 325 cfs (from April 15-June 14). The decision affects the 17 miles of the river from Calamity Draw to the confluence with the Dolores River. A water court filing will be made by the CWCB prior to the end of the year.