Dillon Reservoir fills for the first time in four years
summit daily news
SUMMIT COUNTY ” Colorado Springs resident Karsten Szabo eyed the water Tuesday as it gently lapped the grassy shore of Dillon Reservoir’s Snake River inlet.
“This is great,” she said. “I was fishing here a few weeks ago, and I had to posthole through the mudflats to get near the water. It’s nicer than it’s been in a few years.”
For the first time since 2001, on Monday morning, Dillon Reservoir reached capacity and started to spill water through the Glory Hole and into the Blue River.
The reservoir came within 6 to 9 inches of capacity in 2003, according to Marc Waage, a Denver Water resource engineer.
Dillon Reservoir, holding about 254,000 acre-feet, is the largest of Denver Water’s all-important storage buckets. It filled despite a below-average snowpack in the Blue River watershed and below-normal streamflows for much of the spring; it filled even though it started at a lower level than usual, Waage said.
The reservoir is one of several around the state that serves Denver Water’s 1.2 million Front Range customers.
Timely spring moisture in the South Platte Basin allowed the utility to leave the Roberts Tunnel off through most of the spring. The tunnel is used to divert water from the reservoir to the Front Range for consumption.
The utility’s customers cut water use by 20 percent this winter and are saving even more so far this summer, Waage said. Conservation figures are compared to average water use before the drought began about six years ago.
The wet spring combined with water conservation to help fill Dillon Reservoir and allow a short rafting season on the Blue north of Silverthorne, Waage said.
Overall, the Denver Water storage system is close to reaching 100 percent capacity.
Dillon Reservoir will remain within a couple of feet of full through Labor Day, Waage said. That is good news for the county’s two marinas that depend on water levels to serve sailing, kayaking and other boaters who use marina facilities to access the water.
“It feels good,” said Summit County Commissioner Tom Long, adding he is hopeful that local reservoirs can begin to catch up from recent deficits and maybe head into winter with levels a little higher than the last few years.
Green Mountain Reservoir, located on the northern edge of the county line, has filled on paper, according to Long, although some of the water is still being held in feeder rivers, creeks and other reservoirs.
That “feeder” water includes some of the water now spilling out of Dillon Reservoir, he added.
Bob Berwyn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 331-5996.
– Timely spring moisture in the South Platte Basin allowed Denver Water to keep water from being diverted to the Front Range.
– Denver Water’s customers cut consumption by 20 percent over the winter.
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