Three Lakes Watershed Association


National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Process Starts to Develop Permanent Fix for Clarity Issues In Grand Lake

Members of Three Lakes Watershed Association have worked extensively with members of the Town of Grand Lake, Bureau of Reclamation, Grand County, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, and Northwest Colorado Council of Governments to initiate the development of alternatives through the NEPA process to permanently fix the design flaws with the Colorado Big Thompson Project in Grand Lake. In the meantime, Grand Lake Clarity is driven by the principal parties who signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2016 that is effective through 2021. A copy of the MOU can be found at:

Grand Lake with 3.6 meters Clarity).  Shadow Mountain Reservoir flowing into Grand Lake.

Grand Lake with 6 meters of Clarity.  Shadow Mountain Reservoir not flowing into Grand Lake.

Colorado Water Quality Control Commission (CWQCC) Continues to Support Clarity Standard for Grand Lake. This is the first Clarity Standard in Colorado.

The CWQCC officially 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 Purposes (to preserve..) of the authorization by Senate Document 80 (1937) for the CBT use of Grand Lake. This new standard sets a 3.8 meter clarity Goal Qualifiers (standard) in Grand Lake from July 1st through September 11 each year and puts a minimum of 2.5 meters based on certain critical factors.

This was a truly a huge win for Grand Lake and was a team effort led by Members of the Three Lakes Watershed Association, Town of Grand Lake, Bureau of Reclamation, Grand County, Northern Water, 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 1940’s.

SMR Islands on a clear day

The TLWSA purchases the Fire Boat for the Grand Lake Fire Department

The TLWSA purchased the with the Grand Lake Fire Department a Fire Boat to fight fires from the lake using lake water pumped from a commercial pump on the boat. Many areas around Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Reservoir do not have access to fire hydrants and the roads are not always passable. The Fire Boat is a major piece of equipment for providing the fire safety for hundreds of structures located on and around the lakes. The TLWSA also pays for all maintenance and any repairs the Fire Boat may need. TLWSA raised the money to purchase a new fire boat for the Grand Lake Fire Department ($200,000+) and still maintain a fund to support the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the fire boat.

The TLWSA partners with Grand County for Algae Monitoring in the SMR/Grand Lake Connecting Channel

The  TLWSA has recently signed an agreement with Grand County to help fund the algae monitoring effort to be conducted in the channel between Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Reservoir.  This initiative will greatly help Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District to monitor algae blooms in Shadow Mountain Reservoir and hopefully improve clarity of Grand Lake by preventing major algae issues from moving from one body of water to the other.

The TLWSA provides funding for dock space for Northern Waters Testing Boat

The TLWSA provides the funding for Northern Water to keep its Water Testing Boat at Trail Ridge Marina. This boat is also used by GCWIN for rigorous water testing. This boat is used to collect very important data that helps both the Bureau of Reclamation and Northern Water make flow decisions that can prevent major water quality issues.

The TLWSA was instrumental in the creation of the Three Lakes Water and Sanitation District

The TLWSA was instrumental in the creation of the Three Lakes Water and Sanitation District, a much needed sewer system to protect the ground water in our area. This system continues to significantly reduce pollutants to the Upper Colorado River Watershed in and around Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Lake Granby Reservoir.

The TLWSA proposed the first Water Clarity Standard in Colorado for a Natural Lake

The TLWSA in partnership with Grand County, the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments and the Colorado River District developed a proposal which was submitted to the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission (CWQCC) in June 2008. We were the only non-government organization testifying. Based on our information and with support from many other groups the CWQCC established the first ever Water Clarity standard in Colorado for Grand Lake.

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