Aspinall Unit operations meeting recap

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Here’s a recap of Thursday’s operations meeting, from Katharhynn Heidelberg writing for the Montrose Daily Press. From the article:

Blue Mesa’s inflow for May was forecasted at 690,000 acre feet. The June 1 forecast jumped it to 790,000 af. “A lot of that was the result of precipitation that occurred in late May and also the fact that we got some good runoff in May,” Crabtree said. “We had more runoff in May than average.” BuRec went to higher releases to avoid having to spill Blue Mesa Reservoir. Crabtree said the reservoir came within three inches of spilling over, so releases were increased to gain control. At one point, the reservoir contained only 2,000 spare acre feet of storage. “Considering the size of that lake, that’s not a lot of room,” he said.

BuRec will slowly decrease releases from Crystal over the next few months to allow the Division of Wildlife to conduct its annual fish surveys. Additionally, BuRec wants to have lower flows to encourage brown trout to spawn in deeper water. That way, when the water recedes, there is less chance of the eggs being left high and dry, which could happen if spawning occurs in shallower water. Crabtree said flows will increase in December and January to help meet demands for power production.

Here’s a look at operations last May, from Dave Buchanan writing for the The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. From the article:

…on May 12, the day the Bureau had predicted runoff would peak and Crystal, the last dam in the line, would spill, the expected overflow came much faster and higher than anyone foresaw. So fast, in fact, the Bureau was inundated with complaints about their supposedly poor flow management, particularly from people familiar with the Aspinall Unit operating directives, which limit how fast a flow can increase or decrease (ramp up or ramp down). From 8 a.m. on May 12 to 8 a.m. on May 13, flows in the Gunnison River below Crystal Dam jumped from about 3,500 cubic feet per second to 7,300 cfs, about four times faster than the Aspinall EIS said should happen. That doubling of the flows not only threatened unwitting anglers and other river users, but also sent a glut of water toward Delta, which eventually saw a flow of 12,500 cfs gnaw away at river banks and threaten riverside development.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.

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