Basalt wave feature may be tweaked |

Basalt wave feature may be tweaked

An overturned raft is stuck on a tree in the Roaring Fork River just below the Basalt Wave.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times | Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times

The designers of two waves at the Basalt whitewater park in the Roaring Fork River plan to evaluate problems triggered by high water this year and come up with potential changes.

That was the word Tuesday from Jason Carey and Quinn Donnelly, engineers with Carbondale-based River Restoration, who told Pitkin County commissioners they are aware that waves they designed feature a “stickiness” when flows reach or exceed 2,200 cubic feet per second.

The waves have flipped several boats in recent days as the river swells with runoff, holding some of the rafts within the wave, they said. The waves are not holding actual bodies in the water, they said.

“We regret anybody getting hurt on the river,” Carey said. “(But) there’s not a lot of immediate things we can do.”

The features were built in 2016 and tweaked in 2017 to reduce the curl of one of the waves and to create a sneak-through on the left side of the river, said John Ely, Pitkin County attorney. However, because of low-water, drought conditions last year, the tweaked design couldn’t be properly evaluated, he said.

The flows are able to flip boats between 2,200 and 3,200 cfs, Carey said. After that, the large flows smooth out the waves, he said.

Once they evaluate the problems, “we will provide alternative ideas on potential alterations,” Carey said.

Still, he noted the waves were designed with “stickiness” in mind to provide recreational water opportunities.

Board Chairman Greg Poschman said it might be a case of people needing to learn the ins and outs of how to navigate the rapid.

“Maybe we’re just still in the honeymoon phase,” he said. “People just don’t know the rapid yet.”