Shout-out for the cutthroat trout

Three Dolores Basin creeks get ‘outstanding water’ designation

Keywords: Poll question,
A setting sun reflects orange on the Dolores River as a fisherman wades out to fish. Parts of the Dolores Basin have been awarded an ‘outstanding water’ designation for cutthroat trout. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

A setting sun reflects orange on the Dolores River as a fisherman wades out to fish. Parts of the Dolores Basin have been awarded an ‘outstanding water’ designation for cutthroat trout.

Thanks to the Dolores River Anglers group, three Dolores Basin creeks recently received the “outstanding water” designation.

The Little Taylor, Rio Lado and Spring Creek drainages were selected for protection because they contain Colorado River cutthroat trout. The decision was made on Tuesday, Sept. 11 by the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission.

The Dolores River Anglers were the “movers and shakers” behind the effort.

“We had some opportunities here (to preserve) something dear to everyone’s heart on the West Slope,” said Chris Burkett. “For a long time, Colorado Parks and Wildlife only knew of some (cutthroat trout) on the East Slope.”

The Dolores River Anglers notified Parks and Wildlife of the existence of the trout between Dolores and Rico north of Highway 145, said Burkett, who worked with Chuck Wanner on the application.

The state agency is taking fry from the creeks and using them for brood stock since they are such a pure strain, Burkett said.

Jamie Anthony, the statewide water quality coordinator for Parks and Wildlife, said the “outstanding water” designation includes a non-degradation clause.

This clause provides protection for the water and trout through the use of discharge permits issued by the Water Quality Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The permits concern anyone seeking a permit to discharge wastewater into the drainage of the creeks or their tributaries.

There are effluent limitations involved, Anthony said, noting that the state would typically not issue a general permit for stormwater runoff from a construction site. An individual permit would be required under such a scenario, which would have numeric effluent limits.

Although he added, “These are typically pretty remote areas without a lot of activity.”

Someone who wants to install a septic system in the aforementioned Dolores Basin drainages would likely not be affected by the “outstanding water” designation because it deals with surface water. However, if the potential home or business would potentially use more than 2,000 gallons of water a day, the landowner would have to apply for a groundwater discharge permit from the Colorado Water Quality Control Division, said Dick Parachini, the Division’s clean water program manager. In that situation, the state agency could issue a permit based on individual circumstances, i.e. the septic system’s engineering and the surrounding soils, for example.

Septic systems with a capacity less than 2,000 gallons a day would be permitted by Montezuma or Dolores counties using state standards, Parachini said.

The state has given 15 creeks and their tributaries the “outstanding water” designation since 2006, according to Anthony. The largest of these are Hermosa and Rapid creeks. These do not include wilderness areas or national parks.

calebs@cortezjournal.com

Enlargephoto

colorado.gov