From Steamboat Today (Holly Kirkpatrick and Andy Rossi):
For water managers, the onset of spring is signaled by the reactivation of stream gages.
That’s right, the day field technicians awaken the extensive network of flow data collection instruments from their winter hibernation is highly anticipated in the water world. But what does that mean for the non-water nerds who are simply enjoying warmer temperatures? The short answer is a lot, particularly if you enjoy water activities.
Stream gages, operated by the state of Colorado and U.S. Geological Survey, give water managers, agricultural producers, recreationists and emergency managers valuable information needed to coordinate the use of our most valuable natural resource, water. Before stream gages are activated and spring runoff begins, water managers monitor snowpack to forecast river flows.
Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) is an extensive system of instrumentation extending from the U.S.-Canada border to the southern reaches of Arizona and New Mexico that tracks snowpack data which determines the amount of water that will end up in our rivers, streams, and lakes when temperatures rise.
The Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District incorporates snowpack data and runoff forecasts for the Yampa River to manage the timing of filling Stagecoach and Yamcolo reservoirs, which can be a delicate balance. The forecast products used by Conservancy District are updated on a regular basis by incorporating new snowpack and climate data as it becomes available.
In addition to all this data, real-world observations can be used to improve the usefulness of the forecast products developed by public agencies. Real-world observations made by a robust monitoring network of citizen scientists provide valuable information. Citizen scientists are those who have a close relationship with rivers and streams, including agricultural producers, outdoor enthusiasts and water facilities operators.
Now for the good news, forecasts suggest a healthy average runoff for the Yampa River system and thus far, this year’s early spring runoff in observed streamflow levels has reinforced those forecasts. So round up your boat gear and get ready to enjoy some warmer days. Spring has finally sprung in the Yampa Valley.
And, if your spring is signaled by the end of calving season and the beginning of irrigation season, don’t forget about Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District’s grant program funding diversion infrastructure improvements. Call Holly Kirkpatrick at 970-439-1081 or visit upperyampawater.com/projects/grants for more information.
Holly Kirkpatrick is the communications and marketing manager and Andy Rossi is the district engineer with Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District.
From The North Forty Times:
Play It Safe Tips
Wear a life vest Use proper flotation devices Wear shoes Wear a helmet Don’t tie anything to yourself or to your tube/raft/kayak
Safe to Go?
Know the weather and water conditions Poudre River water is melted snow – it is always cold! Avoid logs, branches, rocks and debris
Know Where You Are
Take a map Plan your take-out location before you get in the river
Float Sober, Float Safe
Alcohol and drugs impair judgment
Pack it in; pack it out Share the river
What if you flip?
Do not stand in the river – avoid foot entrapment Float on your back with feet pointing down river and toes out of the water Use your arms to paddle to shore