Upper Blue through Breckenridge eyed for potential flooding
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Water managers from both sides of the Continental Divide said all reservoirs will easily fill this year as a record-setting snowpack starts to melt during the next few weeks. In some places, snow levels are at record levels, said Denver Water’s Bob Steger, speaking at the annual State of the River meeting in Frisco.
Rather than worrying having enough, the big concern this year is for the potential of flooding in many local river basins, including the Upper Blue between Hoosier Pass and Breckenridge. where Colorado Springs usually diverts up to 150 cubic feet per second of water through a pipeline under the Continental Divide.
This year, Colorado Springs is working on a rehabilitation project on Montgomery Reservoir, said project engineer Kalsoun Abbasi, explaining that, at the most, Colorado Springs will only be able to divert one-tenth of that amount.
There’s also potential for high water below Dillon Reservoir in the Blue River, said Steger, Denver Water’s raw water supply manager. Much will depend on exactly how fast and when the peak snowmelt occurs. The snowpack across the Blue River Basin is more than 150 percent of normal, with the Copper Mountain SNOTEL site recording its highest reading ever, dating back to the late 1970s.
“We’ve got serious concerns about flooding below the dam,” said Denver Water manager Jim Lochhead, sitting in a panel discussion with Summit County officials.
On the upside, Steger said there should be plenty of water for rafting.
“In a year like this when we know Dillon Reservoir is going to fill, we have the luxury of thinking about other things … rafting fishing below the dam … rafting should be great this year,” he said.
Green Mountain Reservoir will also fill sometime in June, said Ron Thomasson, who manages the reservoir for the federal Bureau of Reclamation, predicting the Blue River below Green Mountain Dam could run at levels not seen sice 1995, another big snow year.
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, La Niña, rivers, Snow and weather, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news, water Tagged: | Colorado spring runoff 2011, Colorado Springs, Denver Water, Dillon Reservoir, Hoosier Pass, Summit County News, Summit County water