Eagle River hits 75 degrees in Wolcott as water temperatures reach record highs
Anglers asked not to fish when water temp exceeds 70 degrees
The Eagle River this week has seen the summer’s highest temperatures so far, which are some of the hottest conditions recorded in the 16 years the Wolcott station has been taking temperatures.
The two hottest days were July 28-29 of 2021, when the thermometer reached 76.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
This week, days three and four of the four hottest days were recorded on Tuesday and Wednesday, when temperatures eclipsed 75 degrees both days.
Prior to the summers of 2021-22, the hottest temperatures recorded at the Wolcott station came in 2018 when 74.1-degree waters were recorded in both July and August. Before that, the hottest summer was 2012, when a 72.9-degree day was recorded in July.
The Eagle River’s Wolcott station has only been recording temperatures since 2006 (the highest temperature recorded that year was 70.9 on Aug. 17), but the recording station on the Colorado River near Dotsero, which has been taking temperatures since the fall of 1996, tells a similar story.
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Prior to the summers of 2021 and 2022, the hottest water on record in Dotsero was recorded in 1998, when temperatures hit 72.1 degrees on July 20.
This summer, the Dotsero thermometer reached 75.2 degrees on July 17, tying a record which had been set the previous summer on July 7, 2021.
The third-hottest waters on record came on July 18 of this year, when temperatures of 74.5 degrees were recorded on the Colorado River in Dotsero.
Both the Eagle and Colorado rivers are under voluntary fishing closures in Eagle County, with anglers being asked to be off the Eagle River water below Wolcott by noon, and off the Colorado River below Burns all day.
When water temperatures exceed 70 degrees, fish often stop feeding and become more susceptible to disease, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife enacts voluntary fishing closures on waterways throughout the state.
On the Eagle River, temperatures have exceeded 70 degrees every day since Aug. 2, reaching 75.2 degrees on Tuesday and 75.1 degrees on Wednesday.
In July, the Dotsero station on the Colorado River recorded 13 straight days of temperatures in excess of 70 degrees.
The Colorado River is also seeing restrictions upstream in Grand County, where the Fraser River basin has been seeing high temperatures.
The Fraser River meets the Colorado River in Grand County, and the situation there is being monitored by groups on the Front Range that divert about 60% of the water in Grand County across the Continental Divide for agricultural and municipal use.
The Denver metro area receives about 20% of its water from Grand County. In recent weeks, Denver Water’s Learning By Doing partners requested additional flows to help the rising stream temperatures in the Fraser River basin
“Denver Water has begun making environmental bypasses from its diversion structures in the upper Fraser River basin to proactively mitigate high-stream temperatures observed in recent days,” Travis Thompson with Denver Water told the Vail Daily on Wednesday. “As hot and dry conditions persist in Grand County, Denver Water will send an extra 200 acre-feet of water down the river, which will be strategically released from Ranch Creek at the recommendation of the Learning By Doing partners to help the fish and aquatic habitat.”