Summit County: Dillon Reservoir outflows boosted again

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The Blue River near flood stage near Silverthorne.

Blue River running high through Silverthorne

Staff Report

FRISCO — Flows in the Lower Blue River, below Dillon Dam, are going up again.

With snowmelt speeding up under warm and sunny skies, Denver is boosting the outflow to 1,800 cfs to avoid a scenario where Dillon Reservoir spills at a level that causes outflows to go over that level.

That’s exactly what could happen without upping controlled releases now, Denver Water spokesman Matt Wittern said via email.

“Our experts predict that, if we maintained 1,700 cfs outflow and inflows remain around 2,400, Dillon Reservoir would be full and spilling within a week,” Wittern said. That could bring excessive flows and the potential for flooding below Dillon Reservoir.

Wittern said Denver Water is estimating the remaining snowpack in the Blue River as equivalent to between five and seven inches of water near Hoosier and Fremont passes.

That snow is melting fast, with no letup in sight. Inflows from runoff into Dillon Reservoir averaged 2,467 cfs Tuesday, which was well above current and planned outflows. And those inflows aren’t expected to drop below 1,700 cfs in the next seven days, which means Dillon Reservoir will continue to fill quickly, at the rate of about six inches per day. As of Wednesday, the reservoir was 3.25 feet below capacity.

Wittern also explained that Denver Water can’t legally divert water through the Roberts Tunnel if it’s not needed.

“Right now water levels are very high on the South PIatte River, eliminating this action as an option,” he said.

Troy Wineland, state water commissioner for the Blue River, said property owners in the Lower Blue who face flooding risks can prepare by perusing Summit County’s High Water Preparedness” manual which includes instructions on sandbag preparation and placement, as well as free sand / bag supply locations.

Wineland also said water users in the Lower Blue should be aware that higher flows will push more water through diversions, possibly over-topping in irrigation ditches.

Summit County: Dillon Reservoir expected to fill within a week

Denver Water juggling inflow, outflow

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After peaking later than average, the sremaining nowpack in the Blue River Basin is melting fast. Graph courtesy Denver Water.

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Flows in Blue River tributaries like Straight Creek are near their seasonal peak.

*Story corrected at 2 p.m. Dillon Reservoir outflow to the Blue River increased to 1,600 cfs Monday, July 15.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Dillon Reservoir should be full within a week, according to the latest update from Denver Water, which just bumped up the outflow to the Lower Blue to make room for more runoff the next few days.

As of June 15, Denver Water was releasing about 1.600 cubic feet per second from Dillon Reservoir, with about 2,200 cfs flowing in from the Blue River and its tributaries. And Denver Water is expecting more high inflows for the foreseeable future, according to a recent email update:

“A fresh look at the estimated level of snowpack above Dillon Reservoir … tells us there is still eight inches of snow in some places, meaning high flows can be expected for the foreseeable future. The good news is that inflows to Dillon Reservoir – which have ranged from 2,206 to 2,623 over the past several days – appear to be trending downward.” Continue reading

Colorado: Big flows expected in Blue River

Good news for boaters

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Healthy streamflows and good boating in the Blue River Basin. @bberwyn photo.

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Blue River snowpack still growing.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Late-season storms have helped boost snowpack in the Blue River to near last year’s level, promising healthy runoff and flows in Summit County, according to Denver Water.

The effects of the steady barrage of spring storms is already showing up the Lower Blue River, where flows are increasing due to increased releases from Dillon Reservoir, according to Denver Water, which won’t be diverting water through the Roberts Tunnel until mid-July at the earliest. Continue reading

Morning photo: Sunday set

Winter magic!

FRISCO — An exceptional morning a few days after Christmas brought magical light to the Blue River Valley, in Summit County, Colorado. Temps below zero and a layer of frozen fog and mist combined to create a beautiful sundog, forming nearly a full circle around the sun. It may be a little challenging to get out and about at sunrise on these chilly mornings, but it’s always well worth it!

Morning photo: Sunday riverscapes

Frosty magic

Blue River Colorado

Frost-tinged willows, cottonwoods and aspens gleam in the morning light along the Blue River, north of Silverthorne, Colorado.

FRISCO —I’ve been expanding my river horizons the last few days, shooting the frost, mist and ice along Tenmile Creek, and most recently, the Lower Blue River, north of Silverthorne.

Turns out that Tenmile Creek, south of Copper, is similar to the Snake River in a couple of ways. At least in its lower reach near the resort, it flows east to west, which means the morning light can be tricky, but also awesome if you catch it at the right moment. And thanks to pollution from the Climax Mine, the water also has that fascinating aquamarine tinge that makes for good photos.

The Lower Blue is another story altogether. Thanks to Colorado’s feudalistic water laws, it’s not that easy to find good access spots for photography. Fortunately, we have an enlightened federal government that does insist on some public access rights to the water in areas where the river flows through public lands. If you like our daily snapshots, visit our online gallery at Fine Art America for more Summit County landscape and nature images. Continue reading

Summit County: State biologists want your input on fishing

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Fishing at the Dillon Marina.

Public meeting set for March 18 at Silverthorne library

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Fishing season is right around the corner, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists want input from local anglers on fish management in Summit County’s lakes, reservoirs and streams.

“In addition to science and biology, we rely on the public’s input for our wildlife management decisions and strategies,” said Jon Ewert, aquatic Biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Hot Sulphur Springs. “We want to make decisions the public will support, so we encourage everyone to come out and tell us what they think.”

Ewert said this week’s meeting at the Silverthorne library (Monday, March 18, 6:30 p.m.) upcoming meeting at the  will function as a “data workshop” which he describes as being effective in encouraging discussion and interaction between the agency and sportsmen. Continue reading

Morning photo: Blue

Morning stroll

Winter in Summit County

Steam rises off the waters of the Blue River at Farmer’s Kormer.

FRISCO — Stayed a little closer to home Monday morning, venturing as far as the Blue River inlet at Farmer’s Korner for a morning photo walk. First things first — the willows at the mouth of the river have trapped most of the snow blowing off the surface of Dillon Reservoir, so in spots, it’s thigh deep. I got there in plenty of time to wait for the sun to pop up over Swan Mountain and tried to line up a few shots in advance. Once the light hit, it hit pretty hard and pretty suddenly. Instead of having a chance to shoot frames in a mellow half-light, It was bright and full of contract almost immediately. The second image in this series (below) was taken just at the right moment; just 30 seconds later, the scene was bathed in full sunlight, making it a bit harder to capture details and tones. Continue reading

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