Three Lakes Watershed Association

July 2019 Members Newsletter

July 2019 Members Newsletter

The Colorado Big Thompson project was an amazing engineering project for its time (1937) but has created lasting environmental impacts on the entire three lakes ecosystem.  The passing of shallow, stagnant water from Shadow Mountain Reservoir into Grand Lake and the Adams Tunnel causes severe clarity and water quality issues in a natural lake fed by two pristine rivers (North and East Inlet).  These are the headwaters of the mighty Colorado River, formerly called the Grand River.

Who Are We? And What’s Happening?

The Three Lakes Watershed Association (TLWSA) is a 501(c)3 non profit organization in existence for over 40 years.  The association merged with the Greater Grand Lake Shoreline Association in 2013 and has continued to be committed to protecting and enhancing the quality of life in the Three Lakes Area to include Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Lake Granby Reservoir.

Scally O’Donnell, one of the original founders of the TLWSA and the president for the past years, has recently stepped down as president.  Mike Cassio was elected the new president of TLWSA.  Please join us in thanking Scally for his work and dedication for over 50 years to protect and enhance the quality of life in the Three Lakes Area.  Scally has been the backbone of the organization and will continue with the organization as a board member.  Mike Cassio has an impressive resume and has been very dedicated to the water quality initiatives for the past 7 years representing TLWSA on technical committees and attending numerous meetings with government entities related to the three lakes water quality.

TLWSA Major Initiatives

We led the formation of the Three Lakes Water and Sanitation District to prevent sewage from contaminating the ground water around Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Lake Granby Reservoir. That’s right, from GL to Granby!

Our main focus over the past 10 years has been working closely with the Town of Grand Lake, Grand County, Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Northern Water, Bureau of Reclamation, and many others to develop a Water Quality and Clarity Standard centered on improving the clarity of the water in both Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake.  The Colorado Department of Health and the Environment’s Colorado Water Quality Control Commission (CWQCC) passed new revisions effective June 30, 2016 to the Classifications and Numeric Standards for Upper Colorado River Basin.  This Regulation NO. 33.56 can be found on page 120 of Regulation NO.33 at

This updated standard supports the primary purpose to “preserve” Grand Lake through Senate Document 80 (passed in 1937) for the Colorado Big Thompson Project’s use of Grand Lake. This new standard sets a 3.8-Meter clarity Goal Qualifier (standard) in Grand Lake from July 1st through September 11th each year and puts a minimum of 2.5 meters based on certain critical factors. This was a huge win for Grand Lake and was a team effort led by members of the TLWSA, Town of Grand Lake, Bureau of Reclamation, Grand County, Northern Water, USGS, Colorado River District, Northwest Colorado Council of Governments and Midwest Electric Consumers. The standard will be in place for 5 years and will allow the Bureau of Reclamation to develop a long-term solution to a problem that has existed since the construction of the Colorado Big Thompson Project in the late 1930’s.

We raised over $150,000 for the Grand Lake Fire Department to acquire a Fire Boat.  This enables the fire department to fight fires on Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Reservoir.  There are areas around the lakes that do not have fire hydrants and the boat uses lake water for fighting fires. We also created and support the Maintenance Fund for this boat.

TLWSA Small Initiatives

TLWSA supports smaller initiatives in the Three Lakes Area including opposition to limited stakes gambling, and opposition to a marijuana dispensary in the Town of Grand Lake.  Additionally, we provide dock space at Trail Ridge Marina for Northern Waters testing boat utilized by the GCWIN.  The water quality testing boat is used for on-going water sampling and monitoring water clarity.  We also funded the purchase of special probes in the channel between Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Reservoir for Grand County to monitor potential algae blooms beginning in Shadow Mountain Reservoir and impacting Grand Lake clarity.

The current project for this summer is to purchase 40 sets of youth waders for the GCWIN Environmental Education Program which educates and engages youth in collecting water samples.

Annual Meeting Announcement

Our 2019 Annual Meeting will be held on Saturday August 10, 2019 at 9am, at the Grand Lake Firehouse located at 201 W Portal Rd, Grand Lake, CO 80447.  The Firehouse is located below the Visitor Center to the south as you come down the hill into GL from US34.  We will have guest speakers from GCWIN ( , the Grand Fire Department and the Grand County Wildfire Council (


You can join or renew your annual membership via the attached mailing, or on our new website at  We apologize for past problems with our payment portal and renewal process.  We have recently completed a remodel of our website and upgraded to the newest payment technology.  Please help by joining our organization or contributing a financial donation in any amount.  100% of your contributions go towards protecting and enhancing the quality of life in the Three Lakes Area to include Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Lake Granby Reservoir.  The goal of the Three Lakes Watershed Association is to become a major source of private funding for environmental projects around the Three Lakes Area with an emphasis on recreation, conservation, forest health and stewardship. The Three Lakes Watershed Association acts as a catalyst for bridging the funding gap between private and government.

Truly one of nature’s great masterpieces, Grand Lake provides an unlimited supply of recreational and leisure pursuits.  Attention is required to ensure it is here for generations to enjoy.  If we do not join together to help improve and restore the watershed, we will lose this resource. 

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