Runoff fills Dillon Reservoir in Summit County
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado Heavy rains the next few days could lead to minor nuisance flooding in Silverthorne.Town officials are watching a few sections of the recpath as well as the pedestrian underpass beneath Highway 9. The South Forty neighborhood is another area of concern where high flows in the Blue River can lead to backyard flooding.Flows in the Blue below the Dillon Dam are currently spiking as high as 1,550 cubic feet per second and could top the 1,800 cfs mark, said Denver Waters Bob Steger. Thats the level at which the river sometimes spills out of its banks, he said.Silverthorne town engineer Bill Linfield said he doesnt expect any serious flood threats, but said one section of the recpath near Bald Eagle Road is already closed because its under several feet of water. The town has sand and sandbags available and can deliver the materials to homeowners if needed, he said.This years early runoff filled the reservoir on May 25, one of the earliest dates on record.Since then, water has been pouring into the glory hole, a giant overflow drain near the dam, and rushing down a spillway into the river below.If we get a lot of rain today and tomorrow, it could go over 1,800 cfs, Steger said. In hindsight, I wish wed let more water out of the reservoir last week.Steger said that, according to the latest forecasts, inflow into Dillon Reservoir has already peaked, so he doesnt expect the river to exceed that level. But he wanted to alert Summit County officials to the potential for high water, just in case.For now, Denver Water cant divert water through the Roberts Tunnel because all of its Front Range reservoirs are full, Steger said. That means all the water flowing into Dillon Reservoir from the Snake River, the Blue and Ten Mile Creek has to flow out through Silverthorne and into the Lower Blue.How long the reservoir continues to spill is weather dependent, but Steger said he anticipates high flows in the Blue for the next month or so.Thats good news for several local rafting outfitters who offer runs on the Lower Blue. The short trip down the scenic valley north of Silverthorne is one of the most popular local rafting venues, with spectacular views of the towering Gore and Ptarmigan ranges on either side of the river.Rafting on the stretch is only possible during the runoff season in late spring and early summer, and some years, the river never gets high enough for boating.This year, boaters also need to be on the lookout for newly fallen trees in along the whitewater run. Pines killed by beetles during the past few years are starting topple in the wind, and could create dangerous new obstacles for rafters and kayakers.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at email@example.com.
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