Dillon Reservoir officials say "maybe next year’ for rafting on the Blue
Many local rafting outfitters have permits to run trips down the Blue River below the Dillon Reservoir, but despite the above-average snowpack, reservoir representatives don’t expect the Blue’s flows to be raftable this season.
Once runoff ends, reservoir representatives say the lake will be almost full. They also said there’s a possibility they might release about 200 CFS (cubic feet per second), of water into the Blue in July or August, but this will likely not be enough to float on … for a raft, anyway.
“I think it’s unlikely there will be raftable flows below Dillon,” said Mark Waage, planner for the Denver Water Board, which operates the Dillon Reservoir. “The reservoir is only half-full right now. It’s going to take a lot of water to get it full again. We think after runoff it’s going to be pretty close to full.”
The snowpack is expected to be completely melted some time in July, and, even if it results in a full reservoir, Denver Water Board’s priorities don’t lye in providing rafting on the Blue. The lake is used primarily for Denver’s drinking water, and anyone who saw the puddle it was diminished to last summer can appreciate the fact that it might be close to full this summer.
“It’s amazing to me to think we’ll be able to fill the reservoir,” Waage said. “It’s an incredible feat to be able to accomplish that. Looking at 2002, that was the driest year on record. To be able to recover from that and fill the reservoir in one year, that’s going way beyond my expectations. And it’s not just the good snowpack, it’s our customers and our (water) restrictions.”
Denver Water is putting its customers on a restriction program that will only allow them to water their lawns twice a week for no more than 15 minutes this summer.
“That is just the minimum amount in the heat of the summer to keep plants alive,” Waage said. “It’s not going to provide a lush lawn.”
Waage said raftable flows for the Blue River range between 400 and 600 CFS, and, in 2001, the flow reached 500 for just a couple of weeks in July. Basically, 2000 was the last season for rafts on the Blue. But, if snow continues to fall heavily next season, the Blue might see another rafting season in 2004.
“It’s quite possible that if we have another good snow year, we could have rafting below Dillon,” Waage said.
– Shauna Farnell
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