Flow program helps guarantee whitewater flows
Ryan Summerlin May 11, 2012
Dam releases may be boaters’ saviors in this year of low snowpack, which is currently 13 percent of average in the Colorado River Basin.
Water manager are working together to find available flows for the Arkansas River’s upcoming whitewater season.
“Water groups are coming together to make this season work,” said Rob White, Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area park manager.
Though some are concerned that water is flowing out of the mountains two to three months ahead of schedule – and not much of it at that, two Frisco business owners reported to CBS News that they aren’t nervous quite yet.
“They are going to be moving some water because people downstream are always going to need it,” KODI Rafting’s Campy Campton said to CBS. “That just benefits the rafting industry because we get to float on it as they’re moving it down.”
The low flows could also benefit the boating industry because so many clients stayed home during high water seasons, which was often deemed dangerous.
“We’re not going to get those high flows we got last year, but we’ll get flows, consistent, that will be runnable pretty much for the whole summer,” said Matt Wade, owner of Ten Mile Creek Kayaks in Frisco.
He previously told the Daily it could be a good year for beginners to learn how to kayak, and he’s already started teaching lessons.
Finding flows on the Arkansas River is happening through the Voluntary Flow Management Program, crafted in the 1990s by what is now Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Trout Unlimited, the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District and the Arkansas River Outfitters Association.
The program is administered by the Bureau of Reclamation. Its guidelines benefit the fishery and provide for whitewater flows in the Arkansas River for recreation users, including commercial outfitters and private boaters, in the spring and summer months.
“Even in years like this, when snowpack is low, the flow program helps supplement flows for exciting whitewater experiences on the Arkansas,” said White. Meetings throughout the month of May will help determine how much water municipalities and other water managers will be able to contribute to this year’s program.
“We have fun, whitewater recreational opportunities available the entire season this year for families and everyone who loves river adventures,” said Bob Hamel of Arkansas River Tours, an outfitting company.