Snowpack/runoff news

Remember to look at the Basin High/Low graph for your favorite basin to get an idea about snowpack there. The % of normal measure loses most of its meaning after runoff starts.

From CBS Denver:

Denver Water says because of the high levels of rain they have had to create some room in several reservoirs so they’ve allowed some to spill over. That allows them to keep some space for any additional spring runoff.

Denver Water spokesman Travis Thompson says they’re expecting quite a few benefits from all the rainfall.

“It’s always good to fill up our reservoirs and what it really does is it gives us more flexibility and more opportunities for some other things, and this year we’ll see some great opportunities to provide additional flushing flows into the rivers and streams below our reservoirs to really help out those fish habitats,” Thompson said. “We’ll also see a great kayaking and rafting season, so great year to be kayaker or rafter in Colorado.”

From the Fort Collins Coloradan (Stephen Meyers):

The Poudre River’s commercial rafting season began Friday, and thanks to the river ripping three times as fast as normal for this time of year, the early season should provide a thrilling whitewater ride for guests.

The roaring water is also a boon for Fort Collins’ economy.

Commercial rafting on the Poudre pumped $4.6 million in direct expenditures into Fort Collins in 2014, making an $11.8 million economic impact, according to the Colorado River Outfitters Association.

Commercial rafting companies took 37,225 rafters down the Poudre River last year, a slight bump from 2013 (37,214 rafters) and an enormous jump from the drought and fire impacted year of 2012, when the river shut down for a month.

The Poudre River, which typically peaks in late May or early June at 3,000 cubic feet per second, was running at 2,020 cfs Friday at a height of 5.32 feet. Normal flow at the canyon’s mouth for May 15 is about 700 cfs.

“The water is already high enough to run all sections of the river. Some years it’s too low (for the Class IV sections) on opening day,” said Bob Klein, manager of A Wanderlust Adventure. “All signs point to us having another great year.”

From 9News (Maya Rodriguez):

Water levels at Chatfield have risen eight feet since May 1, but that’s nothing compared to Bear Creek Lake, which rose 40 feet since the start of the month. Some roads there are completely submerged, but water managers say that’s how it’s should work.

“The whole purpose is to kind of capture the water as it comes down in big flood events and then release it slowly, so we don’t flood anything downtown,” Maxwell said.

Bob Steger is the manager of Raw Water Supply with Denver Water. He said while they’re keeping an eye on the rain expected this week, it’s also a welcome addition to their system of 10 reservoirs. They are now at 93 percent of capacity, 10 percent higher than they usually would be at this time of year.

“This is the time of year when we are trying to fill up our reservoirs, so wet weather is a good thing,” Steger said. “Not only can we fill our reservoirs, which is what we’re trying to do this time of year, but it gives us the flexibility to help with some environmental things and recreation as well.”

That means benefits to fisheries, like trout habitat, to recreation, like rafting, and to the rivers themselves.

“The wet weather also means we don’t have to divert as much water from the Colorado River basin into the metro area,” Steger said.

That can be significant because the less water diverted from the Colorado River for the Front Range, the more that’s left for the western slope and other states that get water from the Colorado River. That includes California, which is in the midst of a severe drought.

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