Dillon Reservoir fills and spills
SUMMIT COUNTY – With inflow into Dillon Reservoir reaching a healthy 1,700 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Monday, Denver Water’s big High Country bucket filled to capacity and started to overflow through the glory hole for the second year in a row.That’s a relief for Colorado water managers after several years of sustained drought, but this season’s runoff didn’t bring the anticipated high water levels in local streams. An unusually dry spring – one of the driest on record in parts of the state – evaporated some of the snowpack before it had a chance to melt.
Denver Water managers Marc Waage and Bob Steger said they expect outflow from Dillon Reservoir to peak at somewhere between 600 and 1,200 cfs, between June 9 and June 12. After that, the flows should slowly decline through early July. Raftable flows of 500 cfs or more in the Lower Blue may last for a few weeks in the middle part of the month, according to Steger.Monday’s inflow was tempered by diversions through the Roberts Tunnel. Denver Water is sending about 500 cfs under the Continental Divide into the South Platte drainage, said Silverthorne public works director Bill Linfield.
The town is not anticipating any flooding problems with the peak flows of the season. Linfield said flows must reach about 1,800 cfs before there are concerns in low-lying riverside areas like the South 40 Subdivision.The lake buffers the inflow for a few days, so Linfield said he would expect to see peak flows of somewhere around 1,200 cfs toward the middle and second half of this week.
“I’d be surprised if it gets above 1,200 cfs,” he said. “But it’s nice to see the Blue look like a river. Now we can really call it the Blue River instead of Blue Creek,” he said.The higher flows, even if they only last a few days, are good for the health of the stream, where the town has invested heavily in helping to sustain a Gold Medal trout fishery. High flows help scour sand and muck from the riverbed that accumulates during the low-flow winter season.
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