Runoff news

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Here’s an update on runoff conditions in the Eagle River valley from the Vail Daily (Chris Outcalt):

Runoff of the winter snowpack has already started and will continue through May. Water levels in the area usually peak around the end of May or beginning of June, and most kayakers are probably eagerly awaiting the runoff, said Sean Glackin, owner of Alpine Quest Sports in Edwards…

People are already paddling spots of the Eagle River by Dowd Junction and taking advantage of the whitewater park in Avon, Glackin said. Some beginners are putting in at spots around State Bridge, he said…

Vail Mountain had more than 400 inches of snow this season and snowpack levels in the valley are about average, said Mark Gillespie, snow supervisor for the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

More coveage from the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Above Lake Pueblo, the Arkansas River has remained near normal levels, even though some of the snowpack already is melting. Below the dam, the river has increased to late spring conditions already as downstream canals are emptying winter water and Fryingpan-Arkansas Project accounts, said Steve Witte, Water Division 2 engineer.

“Winter water or carry-over winter water is going to the Catlin, Oxford, High Line and Holbrook ditches,” Witte said. “They might have wanted to wait, but they’re in a use it or lose it situation.” Under court decreed rules, the ditches had until midnight Thursday to empty carry-over accounts, which temporarily swelled the Arkansas River to about 1,400 cubic feet per second at Avondale for several days this week, well above the median average of 881 cfs for this time of year. Meanwhile, the Bessemer Ditch was releasing water it had stored in Fry-Ark accounts, according to the daily report by the Division of Water Resources. Farmers need the water – Southeastern Colorado is still in a mild drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor – but ran more than they might have to empty accounts. Some April showers alleviated the drought’s impact to some extent, and precipitation is close to average levels…

Lake Pueblo levels have been dropping in recent weeks as the flows out exceed the natural inflow. The Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the Fry-Ark Project, stopped running additional water above Pueblo last month because there is now adequate space in Turquoise and Twin Lakes for the water expected to be brought over from the Western Slope. Reclamation will revise its forecast of imports in the near future, and is expecting more than the average of 52,000 acre-feet, but less than the 77,500 acre-feet expected in April, said Roy Vaughan, Fry-Ark Project manager. “We’ve lost some of the snowpack since the April forecast,” Vaughan said.

Statewide, the snowpack was at 94 percent of average Thursday, largely because of dry conditions in the Southwest region and Gunnison River basin. The Upper Colorado, South Platte and Arkansas River basins are all slightly above average.

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