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Passage Playbook

Guidance for Working with Ditch Companies on Multi-Benefit Projects that incorporate Ditch Diversions and Fish Passage in the St. Vrain Watershed

View Passage Playbook (pdf)

Who is this Playbook for?

This Playbook was developed primarily to help proponents understand the perspective of owners in relation to passage projects. Proponents should use this Playbook as a starting point when they consider any project that includes a ditch diversion structure or requires outreach to an owner. Additionally, owners may benefit from referencing this Playbook when approached by proponents about a project that affects their diversion structure to better understand potential opportunities and challenges.

Why a Playbook?

This Playbook grew from a need for consistent and comprehensive guidance for collaborative projects with owners. Throughout the St. Vrain Basin and beyond, the need for passage projects is growing as increased demand on water supplies and climate variability pose challenges for all. Further, state and local funding sources that are needed to support infrastructure projects, passage projects, and river health projects are increasingly requiring such projects to be collaborative and to provide benefits for multiple water uses. Yet for many reasons (e.g. legal, permitting, competing needs, etc.), passage projects are typically complicated and have a heightened likelihood of challenges (e.g., lack of trust, miscommunication, lack of shared experience), which can become obstacles to successful collaboration between proponents and owners. Given the importance of these projects for the future of our working rivers, this Playbook aims to establish an approach for how proponents can work with owners to create successful projects that overcome challenges experienced in past projects.

What is not Included in this Playbook?

The intent of the Playbook is to provide project proponents with guidance for working with diversion owners. Yet, this is just one aspect of a successful passage project. Reviewers of this document acknowledged a need for additional information to guide successful passage projects. Topics not addressed by this Playbook include the role of water rights, the perspective of surrounding landowners, the perspective of funders, the ways the owners may support proponents, all permit requirements, and a complete portfolio of local passage projects that documents lessons learned. These topics are essential, and while some informational resources exist for these topics, more are needed. Future iterations of this Playbook may strive to address some of these topics.

Who Developed this Playbook?

Water resources professionals from Boulder County, City of Longmont, and the St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District developed this Playbook to acknowledge and apply lessons learned from more than 40 years of experience
working with owners and proponents. The Playbook authors have worked closely with many owners in the St. Vrain and Left Hand Watershed, have served on ditch company boards, and as shareholder representatives. As the primary author of this Playbook, the Left Hand Watershed Center compiled the knowledge and expertise provided, and guided the Playbook development and process, integrating information from the Watershed Center’s passage projects and Left Hand Fish Passage Report.

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