From The Vail Daily (Scott N. Miller) via The Aspen Times:
At the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District’s May 20 State of the River gathering, participants heard a presentation from Karl Wetlaufer, a hydrologist and assistant supervisor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Wetlaufer talked about state and regional snowpack and provided some streamflow forecasts. The news was good on both topics.
It isn’t just the Eagle River drainage that’s had a good snow year. Across Colorado, the average “snow water equivalent” in the snowpack stands at 186 percent of the 30-year median. After the drought of 2018, that’s fantastic news.
According to Wetlaufer, Southern Colorado — the part of the state that most needed a big snow year — was the area where the snowpack is greatest. The snowpack in the San Juan, Dolores, Animas and San Juan River basins — closest to the Four Corners area — stood at 294 percent of the median on May 20.
Wetlaufer said that runoff so far has added about 200,000 acre feet of water to one of the state’s biggest reservoirs, Blue Mesa, near Gunnison. At the end of 2018, that reservoir was at its lowest level since 1984.
All the good news across the state is good news to local fishing guides and raft companies.
Sage Outdoor Adventures has a permit to raft Gore Creek through Vail. That didn’t happen last year. Cole Bangert of Sage said in an average year, the company can run raft trips through Vail for three or four weeks per season, mostly in June.
Bangert said he expects a longer season this year, due both to abundant snow and a slow melt so far.
From CBS 4 Denver (Michael Abeyta):
[Bruce Becker] says with all the snow we’ve been getting, water flow in the state’s rivers could be the highest we’ve seen since 2011 or 2013…
Add to that the cool start we’ve gotten to the season and conditions are almost perfect for a long and fun season…
Whitewater rafting and kayaking outfitters across the state hope Becker is right because last year’s hot dry summer and winter really hurt business.
“Our other outfitters in southwest Colorado practically had no season. My season on Clear Creek which is my main run was cut a month short and when you only have three months, losing one month hurts.”
On Sunday, a man was in Becker’s office booking a trip for late July. With folks already booking their trips months in advance, he is optimistic this summer on the river will be a good one for everyone.