Runoff/snowpack news

Statewide Basin High/Low graph June 26, 2014 via the NRCS
Statewide Basin High/Low graph June 26, 2014 via the NRCS

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

The warm weather is starting to bring down that high elevation snow. We have seen snowmelt inflows to the Big Thompson River start to tick back up again.

As a result, we’ve once again curtailed Colorado-Big Thompson Project diversions from the West Slope through the Adams Tunnel. We are running some of that Big Thompson River water through Olympus Tunnel, through power generation, Pinewood Reservoir, and then pumping it up to Carter Lake.

However, Carter Lake is about to hit full for the second time this season tomorrow, Saturday. Consequently, this means we will be turning the pump to Carter off tomorrow afternoon or evening.

Meanwhile, Horsetooth Reservoir is still full. So, the water that was going to Carter will now be coming back to the Big Thompson River at the mouth of the canyon via the concrete chute. Flows down the chute have been steadily increasing since yesterday. They will continue to go up all weekend. By late Sunday night or early Monday morning, they should be around 320 cfs.

Pinewood Reservoir, which has been dropping as the pump to Carter has been running, will see water levels start coming back up late Saturday night.

Despite all these changes elsewhere on the C-BT, outflow from the Big Thompson River and Lake Estes through Olympus Dam to the top of the canyon will remain around 125 cfs.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

We are nearing full at Ruedi Reservoir, but, as we all know, we still have snowmelt coming down from the high country. We are working to finish filling the reservoir while also balancing its rate of rise against snowmelt inflows and the resulting outflow released through the dam and power plant.

As a result, we’ll be increasing releases tomorrow morning at 8 a.m., by 50 cfs. This will bring the total flow past the Ruedi Dam gage in the Fryingpan River to about 282 cfs. The 282 cfs also includes the Rocky Fork’s contributions.

Attached you will find a graph marking our progress so far this year against the projection we presented at the May State of the River runoff meeting in Glenwood Springs. We are actually tracking pretty well, following the projected operations per the snowpack at that time. Our projections were based on our modeling and, as you can see from the graph, the model shows that releases from the dam might continue to go up some in July. We had anticipated that we would see runoff continue for a while, as we have seen in other good snowcap years.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb)

We’re still seeing snowmelt runoff come down. Denver is increasing releases slightly from Dillon Reservoir and, consequently, we’re seeing inflows to Green Mountain pick up.

As a result, tomorrow morning, Saturday, we’ll be increasing releases from Green Mountain Dam to the Lower Blue by 100 cfs. This will put the Lower Blue at about 1100 cfs for the weekend.

Allen Best on the evolution of FIBArk

Hooligan Race 2009
Hooligan Race 2009

Click through for Allen’s photos. From The Mountain Town News (Allen Best):

FIBArk, which calls itself America’s oldest and boldest whitewater festival, was held in mid-June in the central-Colorado river town of Salida. The festival name consists of the acronym, first in boating, as well as the short-hand name for the river: the Arkansas.

It was launched in 1949 as a contest to see who among the 23 entrants could boat the runoff-swollen Arkansas from Salida through the frothy, sharp-edged Royal Gorge. Just two entrants, both from Switzerland, completed the 50-mile journey.

Since then, much has changed. FIBArk has grown to include 10 different river events, including one to test the retrieving abilities of dogs in water. There are also land events, including a parade. It calls itself America’s oldest and boldest whitewater festival.

Equipment and skills have changed. In 2004, a Salida boater named Brad Goettemoeller explained the changes in kayaks and competition for Colorado Central Magazine. Despite increasing competition from other whitewater festivals, he noted, FIBArk at that time was still rated No. 2 among the nation’s boating festivals by Kayak Magazine.

The river has changed, too. It has more water, courtesy of diversions from the Aspen area delivered via tunnels from under the Continental Divide.

The bed of the river has also been altered. In 1966, a bulldozer pushed boulders around to create a more difficult slalom course. In 1988, more tinkering yielded a kayak playhole near downtown Salida. There is also a standing wave used to much merriment by stand-up surfers and stand-up paddleboarders.

A railroad town, streets were predicated not on an east-west grid, but instead a perpendicular layout from the depot. The depot is gone now, and trains stopped running over the transcontinental route through Salida, Leadville, and Avon in 1997.

Instead, like so many of the old mining towns of the Rockies, Salida is a place for Tevas, GoPro, and Patagonia. You might be able to buy steel-toed work boots at the Wal-Mart, but don’t count on it. This is no longer a blue-collar town. If you like organic food, it’s a good place to be.

More whitewater coverage here.