5.5 WHITE RIVER BASIN
The White River flows from east to west parallel to and south of the Yampa River in northwestern Colorado. The White River basin drains approximately 3,770 square miles encompassing nearly all of Rio Blanco County, a small portion of southern Moffat County, and small areas of northern Garfield County. The drainage basin is part of Colorado Water Division 6 with the office of the Division Engineer in Steamboat Springs. However, the Water Judge and Clerk assigned to the White River are a part of the Water Division 5 administration. As of early 2001, there were approximately 75 alluvial wells of record in the White River basin. The occurrence and distribution of alluvium along the river are shown in yellow on Figure 5.5-1.
The White River drains part of the Colorado Plateau, Wyoming Basin, and Southern Rocky Mountains. Like the Yampa, the White River is a tributary of the Green River and the confluence with the Green is south of Ouray, Utah. The historical average annual outflow for the White River leaving Colorado is approximately 590,100 acre-feet, or about 5% of the total stream flow that leaves Colorado. Principal tributaries of the White River are Douglas Creek, Yellow Creek, Piceance Creek, and the North and South Forks of the White River.
Alluvial ground-water resources in this basin are used for domestic, municipal, and irrigation purposes. The White River basin is sparsely populated and contains a population of approximately 6,000 people.