Fryingpan-Arkansas Project update: Releases are 300cfs to the Arkansas River above Buena Vista are 300cfs

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

It’s that time of year we all start looking for snow to melt, rivers to run and reservoirs to fill. While every year here in Colorado presents an interesting run-off season, this one is shaping up to possibly be more memorable than others.

To date, we’ve been moving water from our upper reservoirs on the Fry-Ark project, Twin Lakes and Turquoise, on down to Pueblo Reservoir. The Fry-Ark release to the Arkansas River above Buena Vista has been around 300 cfs for a few weeks now and looks to stay around that rate through Memorial Day weekend, and possibly longer. We are bypassing, sending on through, any snow melt that comes down Lake Creek and Lake Fork Creek into the reservoirs. But, with the continuing cool weather, rain, and upper elevation snow, that just hasn’t been much, so far.

Meanwhile, snow pack continues to hang on. Typically, snow pack is measured in daily averages. So, as long as that snow doesn’t melt, the daily averages climb. Right now, we’re looking at snow pack in the Arkansas Basin of around 167% of average.

With the snow pack up like it is, and not melting, we’re not doing much importing of Fry-Ark Project water through the Boustead Tunnel into Turquoise Reservoir. But there is a lot of snow up the Fryingpan River Basin. Today, snow pack in that basin is looking to be around 388% of average.

With that snow in mind, we’ve pulled Ruedi Reservoir down in anticipation of the run-off. We’re maintaining a release to the lower Fryingpan River of around 340 cfs (the Rocky Fork is kicking in another 20 or so cfs). We’re hoping to maintain that release into the run-off season.

Meanwhile, the first holiday weekend of the summer season is almost here. I’ve attached a news release Reclamation distributed this week reminding folks to take the proper CLEAN, DRAIN, DRY precautions regarding the invasive quagga and zebra mussels.

As we move into the weekend, the water levels at the Fry-Ark Reservoirs, with the exception of Pueblo, are just slightly below average for this time of year, awaiting that melting snow. Pueblo Res, however, has a storage that is above average for late May. Currently, it’s showing an elevation of about 4874 feet.

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