Ruedi Reservoir operations update

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map April 7, 2019 via the NRCS.

From The Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Scott Condon):

[Tim Miller] envisions Ruedi Reservoir filling during the first half of July, likely around July 4. The reclamation bureau and two other agencies have forecast the amount of water flowing into the reservoir this year at 120 percent to 140 percent of average for April through July.

Miller said one thing that stands out this year is the lower elevation snowpack is so big in the Fryingpan Valley. The Kiln snow telemetry site, at 9,600 feet in elevation, was at 147 percent of median on Thursday.

The Ivanhoe Lake site, at 10,400 feet, was at 168 percent of median. The last comparable snowpacks were in 2011, when winter wouldn’t end.

This year, Ruedi Reservoir is lower than usual for this time of year in the aftermath of the drought of 2018. Extra water was required for fighting the Lake Christine Fire and late-season irrigation.

The reservoir was at about 55 percent full. While that isn’t a historically low level, it is 10,000 acre feet lower than at this point last year and at this point in 2011, Miller said. Having the extra space compared to the big runoff year of 2011 is reassuring, he said.

Miller said he will keep the reservoir level hovering about where it is in anticipation of runoff starting soon.

The outlook for the reservoir is good for boaters because of the high probability it will fill right around July 4, Miller said.

The outlook for anglers on the lower Fryingpan River is less certain. Miller said the outflows from the reservoir will likely be higher from later this spring through July than they were last year. The flows in late summer and into fall will depend on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plan for managing the Colorado River near Grand Junction for endangered fish species. Water from Ruedi Reservoir is often used to increase levels on the Colorado River.

The ideal situation this spring and summer would be slow, steady melting of the snowpack, producing a consistent inflow to the reservoir, according to Miller. But he knows Mother Nature will likely throw some curves.

“We never get that” ideal situation, he said.

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