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Summit County: Dillon Reservoir hits lowest level

Denver Water says storage now on the rise again

Meadow Creek, in Frisco, is filled with spring runoff, helping to raise the water level in Dillon Reservoir. Inflows are likely to peak during the next couple of weeks.

Low water levels in Dillon Reservoir have exposed the old highway and the normally submerged mouth of the Blue River.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The water level in Dillon Reservoir reached its lowest level of the runoff season June 1, dropping to an elevation of 8,992.45 feet — about 25 feet below full pool. At that level, the reservoir holds 187,916 acre feet of water. Since then, the water has started to rise again.

“There is a small chance that storage could decrease again if conditions cool. However, inflows picked up significantly over the weekend and are projected to continue to rise for the next several days,” Cindy Brady, a water scientist with Denver Water, said via email.

To prepare for a big surge in runoff, Denver Water has been drawing down the reservoir the past few weeks, boosting releases significantly to the Lower Blue. The reservoir dropped another five feet since May 20, close to the level it was at in 1995, after another big winter.

Summit County experienced significant flooding around Father’s Day, 1995, when Valley Brook Road, in Breckenridge, washed out, and high water inundated some basements and septic systems in the Blue River area, south of Breckenridge.

Some of the lowest reservoir levels recorded have come after big droughts. In March of 2003, the water level was all the way down to 8960.86 feet, about 57 feet below full pool. And the lowest spring level was April 29, 1978, when the reservoir dropped all the way to 8,952.73 feet after the 1976-’77 drought that spurred Colorado ski resorts to ramp up snowmaking.

In a previous message to local officials, Denver Water said that, depending on weather, the combined inflow from the Blue the Snake, Tenmile and the smaller tributaries could exceed 4,000 cubic feet per second, which would be an all-time record.

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