Blue River getting ready to run
Vail CO, Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY ” Boaters looking for an early season splash factor may want to stay tuned. Denver Water is upping outflows from Dillon Reservoir into the Lower Blue this week in anticipation of the snowmelt season.
By the end of today, the river should be running at 200 cubic feet per second (cfs), up from the current 113 cfs. Another boost to 300 cfs is planned for Tuesday.
“These changes are being made to decrease the risk of flooding problems below the dam during the snowmelt season,” Denver Water engineer Bob Steger said via e-mail. The increased flows can’t eliminate the flooding risk entirely, he said, adding that Denver Water needs to balance flood control with other objectives, including water supply, recreation and environmental preservation.
The stepped up flows were delayed for a while to accommodate construction of the pedestrian bridge over the Blue River near the Silverthorne Pavilion, Steger said.
Steger said the flows could be increased even more later this week, potentially bringing the river into the runnable range, at least for kayakers. Commercial rafting operations in the area generally like to see the Blue running at about 500 cfs.
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Dillon Reservoir is at 96 percent of storage capacity, less than three feet from the spillway, a near-record level for this time of year.
Last week’s average daily inflow from the Blue, Snake and Tenmile combined to 179 cfs per day, so with planned outflows of 300 cfs, the reservoir may drop a bit before it starts to fill with the bulk of the runoff.
The Roberts Tunnel, which carries West Slope water to the Front Range, was turned off all winter because of healthy snows in the South Platte Basin, and Denver Water officials said they are in good shape in terms of water storage.
Right now, Denver Water is doing maintenance on the tunnel’s east portal, and the soonest it could be turned on is May 7, Steger said.
Statewide, reservoir storage levels are at 103 percent of average. The highest levels are in the Gunnison and San Juan basins, in the southwestern corner of the state, at about 120 percent of average.
Bob Berwyn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org