Snowpack news: Arkansas River — head to the Pueblo kayak park this weekend

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“They’re talking about increasing flows by 1,500 cubic feet per second,” said Roy Vaughan, manager of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project for the Bureau of Reclamation. Flows this week have been about 700 cfs through Pueblo, and 1,200 cfs at Avondale, well above average for this time of year.

The release would be winter water carried over from 2009 that reverts to state waters under the court decree that governs the program. “It’s basically been so wet out east that farmers couldn’t use it,” Vaughan said.

Otherwise, Lake Pueblo has almost reached levels necessary to provide flood control in the event of spring storms, about 257,000 acre-feet as of Wednesday.

While snowpack in the state has dropped to 75 percent after an early runoff came in mid-April, things have slowed down with new snow and cooler temperatures in the high country, Vaughan said. “It’s not as bad as it sounds,” Vaughan said. “After that one early peak last Friday, things have really cooled down. It’s cold at the upper elevations. There’s a new storm coming in tonight that’s supposed to leave 6 to 12 inches.” Still, dust and winds have beaten down the snowpack this year. The Colorado River basin was at 68 percent of average Wednesday. The Roaring Fork basin, the source of water imported by the Fry-Ark Project, was at 63 percent. The Arkansas River basin was at 91 percent…

“We know the snowpack is diminishing, but we don’t know what will happen with these next few storms,” Vaughan said. An early snowmelt in the Southern mountains is contributing to above-average flows in the Lower Arkansas River as well, with John Martin Reservoir filling to more than 92,000 acre-feet Wednesday, its highest level since 2001. The Huerfano River was running four times its normal April flow as of Wednesday, and high flows were also seen in the Apishipa and Purgatoire Rivers, said Pat Edelmann, of the Pueblo U.S. Geological Survey.

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