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Looking toward the sky for help

Gary Lindstrom

I walked across the Dillon Reservoir the other day. Not from south to north, but from west to east. I was at the south end at the Blue River inlet near Farmer’s Korner. It is dry. Very dry.

The joke around the county is that there will soon be walking tours of the old town of Dillon. Each morning I see more roads and foundations poking out of the receding shoreline.

Yes, the Denver Water Board draws down the reservoir each year. It is done for several reasons. First, it is to provide for room for the annual spring runoff. Runoff is normally June 1 until right after the Fourth of July. This makes room in the reservoir so there will be little or no flooding on the three rivers that feed the reservoir.

The second reason for dropping the reservoir level is to top off the reservoirs on the east slope. This year this will mean even more to our neighbors on the Front Range. They have not had any moisture either.

Depending on the source, this is either the driest year for 100 years or one of the driest years ever.

One report I read said some scientist who reads tree rings, (how about that for a profession?) said the closest year he had ever seen to this one was 300 years ago.

Tom Long went online in the office Monday to show me the United States Geological Study (USGS) Web site of gauges on the Blue River and Colorado River. According to their multi-year graphs, this is one of the worst years for stream flows. Very graphic and very scary.

This coming Tuesday, May 14, the Colorado River District will present “The State of the River” report at the North Branch Library in Silverthorne at 6 p.m. This is an opportunity to come and hear what is going on in the Colorado River Basin.

I can remember past years when things looked as bad. In 1995, we were worried about a continued drought. About the time when our anxiety reached a peak, it started to rain. It rained for about six weeks and we had to deal with flooding in some areas. As of today, it does not appear that will happen this year.

In June of last year I wrote a column about how dry it was, and then it started to rain. I can only pray this will have the same effect.

The commissioners joke about putting in a countywide fire ban to make it rain. It has always worked in the past. Almost like having the Indian chief come to Copper Mountain a few years ago to make it snow. We put in the fire ban a couple of weeks ago, and it still has not rained.

Every year the Mountain Community Fair gets rained out. They change the date just to try to avoid the rain. Each time they change the date, the rain moves with the change. I have even suggested we hold a continual Mountain Community Fair all spring and summer just to get it to rain. Hey, it is only a suggestion. Might not be a bad idea.

On a very serious note, the High Country is so very dry. We are sitting on a powder keg. Everyone should be especially careful with cigarettes and other potential fire hazards. There have already been several fires just a few miles east of Summit County. Look on a map. You will be surprised how close the fires were to us.

Our forests and our water resources are precious resources. We all need to be especially careful in this very dry year.

Gary Lindstrom is a Summit County commissioner and regular columnist for the Summit Daily News.


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