Sam showing off a Brown Trout. Photo: Brett Henderson

Stream temperature is a crucial component of aquatic ecosystem health. Elevated stream temperatures can put our fishy friends in a position where they really struggle, particularly when paired with low flows and water quality issues. In extreme cases, this can lead to fish mortality and the termination of eggs after spawning. It is particularly important to protect our headwaters from elevated temperatures so fish can find refuge at higher elevations during hot periods. Stream temperature is regulated by the Clean Water Act and regulations are implemented by the State of Colorado.

The Water Quality Control Division is revising statewide stream temperature standards. The June 2017 hearings for the Gunnison and San Juan Basins will be the first time that the State of Colorado seeks to revise these standards at the basin level. If the new standards prove problematic, it will be challenging to revise these standards at a later date.

HCCA is partnering with a larger local stakeholder group that convenes at the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District to engage in this process. In November representatives of the Water Quality Monitoring Committee presented at a hearing in front of the Water Quality Control Commission in Gunnison. HCCA spoke in support of stream temperature standards that are protective of aquatic life and urged the Commission to consider only standard revisions that are sufficiently supported by local data. We will continue to engage in the local and state processes to encourage temperature standards that are representative of our local conditions.