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Roaring Fork Valley rivers drop with heat, lack of rain

CARBONDALE — Stream flows within the Roaring Fork River watershed are rapidly dropping as hot temperatures and a lack of any significant precipitation take their toll.

The Basalt-based Roaring Fork Conservancy, which monitors stream flows in the Roaring Fork, Crystal and Fryingpan rivers, noted in its weekly report that the Crystal River is flowing at just 13 percent of average through Carbondale.

As of Wednesday, the Crystal at Redstone near Avalanche Creek was running at 221 cubic feet per second (cfs). That’s down from a reading of more than 320 cfs just a week ago.



Farther downstream, at the Crystal River Hatchery outside Carbondale and below several irrigation ditch diversions, the river was running at 150 cfs.

The fish hatchery, which is operated by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, retains rights for a minimum instream flow of 100 cfs.



The Crystal River near Redstone reached a summertime low last year of just over 62 cfs. The river at that point has a designated instream flow minimum of 80 cfs.

All of the gaging stations on the Roaring Fork and Crystal rivers show the rivers are running at less than 55 percent of average as of Wednesday, according to the weekly report from the Conservancy.

The lone exception is the Fryingpan River below Ruedi Reservoir, which was running at 166 cfs on Thursday.

However, “Flows on the Fryingpan increased Wednesday with a call for water for endangered fish near Grand Junction,” the conservancy noted in its report.

Ruedi Reservoir, from which flows on the lower Fryingpan are controlled, remains at 93 percent full.

Regionwide, “moderate drought conditions persist in the eastern part of the Roaring Fork watershed, while the western side is experiencing severe drought conditions,” according to the report.

As of Wednesday, the Roaring Fork River at Glenwood Springs was running at 717 cfs, compared to the annual mean flow of 2,600 cfs. The Colorado River below the confluence in Glenwood Springs was running at 2,300 cfs, compared to the annual mean of 6,080 cfs.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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