Releases from Ruedi Reservoir dam will increase 200 cfs by Monday night |

Releases from Ruedi Reservoir dam will increase 200 cfs by Monday night

The Roaring Fork River continues to flow higher and faster as the snowpack melts out.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will step up releases from the Ruedi Reservoir dam starting Sunday morning so water levels on the lower Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers will make a noticeable jump.

The reclamation bureau said it will increase releases by 50 cubic feet per second every 12 hours starting at 6 a.m. Sunday and ending 6 p.m. Monday.

That means releases will be boosted to 479 cfs at 6 a.m. Sunday; 529 cfs at 6 p.m. Sunday; 579 cfs at 6 a.m. Monday; and 629 cfs at 6 p.m. Monday.

“After 6 p.m. Monday, releases will remain at 629 until further notice,” said a statement from the agency. “The purpose of these increased releases is to enhance spring peak flows in a section of the Colorado River upstream of Grand Junction, Colorado, critical to the survival of four endangered fish species — the humpback chub, razorback sucker, bonytail and Colorado pikeminnow.”

Ruedi Reservoir is one of several reservoirs that are tapped for the endangered fish program. The reservoir is about 75 percent full right now.

The lower Fryingpan River usually fills its banks around 1,000 cfs.

The Roaring Fork River is flowing above average even without the additional release from Ruedi. The Roaring Fork near Emma was at 2,840 cfs on Thursday, according to the Roaring Fork Conservancy. The average flow for the date is 1,840.

“Colorado River Basin Forecast Center models indicate we may hit peak runoff over the next few days,” the Conservancy said Friday in its weekly river report. “However, 29 percent of the snowpack remains, potentially leading to prolonged high flows and several spikes rather than one large peak.”

The potential for high runoff prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flood advisory Friday for the Crystal River near Redstone. The river is forecast to rise to 4.5 feet after midnight Saturday. Flood stage is 5.0 feet, according to the weather service. The advisory will remain in affect for an unknown amount of time.

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