Local officials will hold a high water preparedness meeting May 9 in Frisco
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Expecting heavy runoff in the next few weeks, Denver Water has ramped up releases from Dillon Reservoir to 255 cubic feet per second as of April 29. By next week, the flows in the Lower Blue River, north of Silverthorne, could be raised to as high as 400 to 500 cfs, said Bob Steger, raw water manager for the Denver utility.
“The purpose of these increased releases is to create space in the reservoir. Hopefully, the space we are creating will allow us to capture the peak inflow and attenuate the peak outflow,” Steger wrote in an email to Summit County officials and media.
The snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin as a whole was at about 150 percent of normal, and it ranges even higher than that in parts of the Blue River Watershed. The Snake River, the Blue River and Tenmile Creek are all listed on an April 21 flood watch bulletin from the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Click here to visit the CWCB’s flood preparedness page. You can view and download a state high-water packet by clicking here.
Steger said the amount of snow is exacerbated by the late start to the snowmelt season. In general, the snowpack in the Upper Blue has grown in April, a month when it usually starts to shrink. The concern is that, once the weather changes, a lot of water will run down local rivers in a short time.
As Denver Water opens the tap on Dillon Reservoir, the water level may drop from where it is currently and when it fills will depend in large part on the weather, But the late start to the snowmelt season means the reservoir may not reach the optimum level for marina operations at Frisco by the target date.
“I usually try to get the reservoir to 9,011 feet by Memorial Day, but that may not be possible this year,” Steger said. adding that he’s already spoken with the marina manager to explain the water situation.
Local officials are also preparing for high water, with a meeting set for May 9, 10 a.m. in the Buffalo Mountain Room of the County Commons. The county has prepared a brochure to help residents monitor runoff and prepare for potential high water.