Minor flooding reported in Dillon
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
DILLON, Colo. – Local firefighters filled sandbags and set up pumps Friday morning to protect electrical equipment and the elevator at the Anchorage West condominium on the shore of Dillon Reservoir.
The reservoir is completely full and the water apparently started seeping through a concrete wall at the base of the structure Thursday night. By Friday morning, water in the garage was about 2-3 inches deep, and residents feared they could be facing costly repairs to the building.
Don Zick, treasurer of the homeowners association for the building, said he hasn’t seen water in the garage of the building since 1981, when he first moved into Anchorage West. That year, he said he was told that the glory hole – the reservoir’s overflow valve – wasn’t working well, leading to minor flooding.
“This is the first time I’ve seen the garage inundated with water,” he said.
Initial contacts with Denver Water were unsatisfactory, according to Zick. he spoke with a local Denver Water official Friday morning.
“They just said it was too bad, you can’t do anything about nature,” Zick said. “They told me it would go down about this much per day,” he added, holding his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart.
“We’re sorry for the flooding,” said Denver Water resource manager Bob Steger. The current level is not unprecedented. The reservoir has been higher than this several times, but not since 1986, Steger said.
As of Thursday morning, the elevation of the reservoir was 9,019.06 feet above sea level. By Friday morning, it had dropped about one-hundredth of a foot.
For now, the amount of water flowing is just about equal to the amount flowing out through the glory hole and down a spillway into the Lower Blue River below the dam.
Thursday, the inflow was 1,709 cubic feet per second, the outflow was 1,726 cfs.
Other than taking water through the Roberts Tunnel, Denver water doesn’t have a lot of options for regulating the flow.
“We’re at the mercy of the streamflows,” Steger said.
Denver Water officials have been juggling the flows the past few weeks, as always trying to find a balance between controlling local flood threats, maximizing storage in the reservoir and addressing recreational and environmental needs with regard to stream flows.
At this point, Denver Water is operating with one hand tied behind its back. All the agency’s Front Range reservoirs are full, so no water is being diverted through the Roberts Tunnel, which can gulp up to 800 cubic feet per second at a time.
That means all the water flowing into the reservoir from the Snake River, Tenmile Creek and the Blue River has to pass through the glory hole.
Releasing water through the tunnel could help lower the reservoir’s level, but the diversion is never made lightly.
Steger said a few days ago that Denver Water can’t simply turn on the tunnel to ease the flood threat.
“We only divert water only when we need it,” he said.
Storing as much water as possible in High Country reservoirs during runoff season is beneficial to all water users along the system. It helps water managers maintain stream flows and water levels for boating later in the year, when the runoff slows to a trickle.
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It’s that time of year — hikers and mountain bikers must be aware that seasonal closures are taking effect on multiple trails in the area today for the winter for the benefit of wildlife.