Better management from reclamation bureau |

Better management from reclamation bureau

Dear Editor:

I am of the opinion that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation could do a better job of governing flows on the Fryingpan River.

Every year they dramatically raise levels on the river when levels could be more gradually increased over longer periods of time to let water out of a filling Ruedi Reservoir. When levels are raised from 140 cfs to 750 cfs in a 48-hour period, it does great damage to the nests and eggs of rainbow trout that spawn in the spring, it disrupts fishing and the local tourism-based economy, and it underscores the response processes of the Bureau that they have once again been caught with their pants down.

Now we once again have the prospect of flooding in Basalt because the Bureau suddenly has to let a lot of water go right when the Roaring Fork is peaking. If someone had the actual foresight to run the river at around 250 cfs for two to three weeks prior to this, sudden massive releases like this wouldn’t be necessary.

The Bureau will tell you that their decision-making process is a complicated blend of science, based on data received by a number of different systems in different places. Common sense will tell you that the science, or their interpretation/implementation of it, is flawed, since we get the same drastic releases every year.

They are under obligation to fill the reservoir, which is completely understandable, as a number one priority. However, the reservoir could be filled and releases increased at an earlier point in the spring if effort was made to more exactly determine snowpack, melt, and water levels. It seems that an average person with a decent amount of gut instinct looking up into the snow-covered mountains above the reservoir could do at least as good of a job as the people sitting around offices in Denver looking at computers and pulling levers. Is there anyone on the ground at the Colorado dams who is actually part of the decision-making process?

I don’t believe it’s too much to expect from governmental bodies who are paid by the public to do a better job of serving the public. Mother Nature is hard to predict, but it’s very possible to BOTH fill the reservoir in the spring and spread increased flows out for longer to minimize massive disruptions like this. It’s also very possible to raise levels and create an instream flush for a couple of days to help minimize long-term damage from events such as the mudslide at Seven Castles a couple of years ago, which didn’t happen.

I believe in the power of government to solve problems, and would like to see more long-term planning from leaders in government, rather than the mop-up reactions after problems occur that we see all too often on the local and national levels.

David Johnson


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