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Roaring Fork hitting its peak

Jeremy Heiman

Man the lifeboats. High water is here.

The Roaring Fork River is expected to reach its annual peak flow this morning or tomorrow, said an official with the Colorado Division of Water Resources.

Division engineer Orlyn Bell, in Glenwood Springs, said he believes the river is near its peak now, because its rise has slowed since earlier in the week, when it jumped spectacularly.

“It came up extremely fast on the night of the seventh,” Bell said. The river continues to rise, but at a more moderate rate.

Measured in Glenwood Springs, the Roaring Fork reached daily peak flows of 3,200 cubic feet per second Monday at about 8 a.m. The river hit 4,300 cfs at about 6 a.m. Tuesday, was flowing at 5,000 cfs at about 6 a.m. Wednesday, and had risen to 5,200 cfs yesterday morning.

The river has overflown its banks in the floodplain areas of the North Star Nature Preserve east of Aspen, and has put a short section of the East Aspen Trail under water.

Bell said he can’t be certain in predicting the peak in Glenwood because the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has reduced releases from Ruedi Reservoir since mid-week, which affects the flow somewhat. The bureau began cutting back the amount of water released from Ruedi yesterday.

Greater than normal releases began the first week in June to assist in the recovery of endangered fish species in the Colorado River. The release rate will be adjusted based on how fast the runoff fills the reservoir for the rest of the month.

A news release from the Bureau of Reclamation indicates the agency’s goal is to fill the reservoir by July, and the snowpack is now melting slower than anticipated because of cooler temperatures.


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