Runoff news: Arkansas River closure below Pueblo Reservoir

A picture named puebloreservoir

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Colorado State Parks Tuesday closed the Arkansas River below Pueblo Dam to boating and tubing, with the exception of whitewater kayaks or canoes. The ban only affects the river within state park boundaries, roughly the first mile of river below Pueblo Dam. It does not include the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, upstream of Lake Pueblo, which remains open to all rafting or kayaking. There are area advisories, however, to avoid the Royal Gorge, Pine Creek and the Numbers, three areas known to be dangerous at high water…

Flows were running at 5,100 cubic feet per second just below the dam Tuesday, more than twice the normal flow for this time of year. At Moffat Street, midway through Pueblo, flows were 5,900 cfs. There was no indication about at what levels the restriction would be lifted.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Farmers and rafting operators are mostly smiles with the heavy runoff in the Arkansas River that began this week. Conditions are just about perfect on the Bessemer Ditch, said Joe Mauro, a produce farmer. “Warm weather, lots of water in the ditch and no hail,” Mauro said, when asked what makes for perfection as crops mature…

Further down the valley, at Lamar, farmers have been happy, as warm days have allowed for the first cutting of hay to be put up. But with 90-degree weather over the last 10 days, some other crops are taking a beating. “We need rain in my area,” said Dale Mauch, who farms on the Fort Lyon Canal. “With irrigating water, you can’t hardly keep up. Some of the corn is getting dry. But it’s been great for haying.” Rainfall has been above average for nearly all of the Arkansas River basin, but has slacked off for the past two weeks in the Lamar area…

Meanwhile, in the Upper Arkansas, rafting has become more exciting during the past few days, said Bob Hamel, owner of Arkansas River Tours and chairman of the Colorado River Outfitters Association. “What we have the ability to do is to move along the river as conditions change,” Hamel said. “The most awesome thing about the Arkansas River is that you can have trips at every level.” News reports of flooding are misleading, he said. “It means the river is full,” Hamel said. While the Royal Gorge is under an advisory, which rafting companies observe, there are still plenty of exciting areas of the river, which are safe for guided tours, he said. “The rapids have more definition,” Hamel said. “These are conditions that we have only once in 15 years.”[…]

The river at Parkdale, west of Canon City, continued to run at record levels, above 5,000 cubic feet per second, for the third consecutive day on Tuesday. Near Buena Vista, the river was running at 4,500 cfs. At Avondale, east of Pueblo, the peak flow was measured at 5,610 cfs Tuesday morning. Water was flowing heavily into Turquoise and Twin lakes Tuesday as runoff continued to peak. Space was made in the mountain lakes over the winter to accommodate water imported through tunnels, which are running at full capacity this week. Storage in the Arkansas River basin was at 105 percent of average at the beginning of the month, while snowpack was only 32 percent of average, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The Fryingpan-Arkansas Project has imported 26,700 acre-feet of water so far, and is on course to meet the forecast of 54,200 acre-feet, said Roy Vaughan, project manager.

From The Denver Post (Sarah Horn):

Throughout Tuesday, flood watches or warnings were issued in Boulder, Eagle, Fremont, Pueblo and Weld counties. Just outside Greeley, 71st Avenue between O and Sixth streets was closed because of 3 to 6 inches of standing water from the Cache La Poudre River. Traffic will be detoured around the flooding until the water recedes, said Margie Martinez, an undersheriff for Weld County. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office will enforce a ban on belly boats, inner tubes and rafts on areas of Clear Creek starting today at 8 a.m. An area of the Eagle River below Gypsum reached flood stage Tuesday but retreated to just below the 9-foot flood stage by the afternoon. The Elk River near Milner has stayed slightly above its 7 1/2-foot flood stage.

From The Greeley Tribune (Mike Peters):

The Poudre River Trail was underwater Tuesday in some areas of west Greeley, while 71st Avenue was closed just east of the Poudre River Ranch subdivision. Road barricades were set up by Weld County workers early Tuesday, as water from the Poudre River flooded over 71st Avenue. A nearby parking lot for Poudre Trail walkers was closed, under about 3 feet of water…

Further west, high flows on the Poudre River caused some basement flooding at the Poudre Heights subdivision, south of Windsor, where a crew was busy placing sandbags. The intersection of 7th Street and Riverplace Drive was closed because water from the pond that irrigates the subdivision was flowing over the street.

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Janet Urquhart and Scott Condon):

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced it would make additional releases into the lower Fryingpan River from Ruedi Reservoir, east of Basalt, on Tuesday, after bumping up flows by 100 cubic feet per second on Monday. Flows in the river were expected to hit 650 cfs Tuesday, but the bureau re-evaluated its need to move water and said it would hold the release from the reservoir to 600 cfs. That is “great news” because it keeps the Roaring Fork River more manageable as well, [Pat Bingham, a public information officer with an emergency response team comprising officials from Pitkin County, Basalt, Aspen and the Basalt Fire Department] said. With the contribution of flows out of the Rocky Fork, a tributary to the Fryingpan below the dam, the bureau estimated flows of about 640 cfs coming down the Fryingpan. Flows coming into the reservoir were topping 1,060 cfs, the bureau reported, prompting the need to increase its release out of the lake.

The Post Independent has a photo of the Roaring Fork River at Cascade Falls yesterday.

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