Ruedi peaks at 88 percent full | AspenTimes.com

Ruedi peaks at 88 percent full

BASALT – Ruedi Reservoir east of Basalt has likely reached its peak level of the summer at just 88 percent full, a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman said Friday.

The reclamation bureau boosted the releases from Ruedi’s dam by 60 cubic feet per second on Thursday. A total of about 170 cfs is now flowing into the Fryingpan River just downstream from the dam. All of the water that is flowing into the reservoir is being bypassed, so storage won’t increase barring a prolific monsoon, reclamation bureau spokeswoman Kara Lamb said.

The reservoir’s releases are being dictated by the “Cameo call” and an obligation to meet contract requirements, Lamb said.

The Cameo Ditch has the second-most senior water right on the Colorado River. It irrigates farms and other land in western Colorado. There isn’t enough water in the Colorado River to meet the demands of the ditch, so additional water is being called, including water from Ruedi Reservoir.

There is a Cameo call virtually every year, but usually there isn’t a direct effect on Ruedi, Lamb said.

“It came early this year,” she said of the call.

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Ruedi Reservoir also is receiving calls for water purchased by downstream municipalities, such as the town of Silt, Lamb said.

The water level in Ruedi Reservoir was at 7,753 feet on Thursday. It was storing nearly 90,400 acre-feet of water, or 88 percent of its capacity.

“Snowpack in the upper reaches of the Fryingpan River Valley melted off early in the unseasonably warm weather this year,” the Reclamation Bureau’s website says. “We stored behind the dam as long as we could.”

The dry conditions will result in less water being diverted to the East Slope of Colorado via the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. The amounts of water moved were “well below annual averages,” the Reclamation Bureau said. “In fact, in June, some of the 16 diversion dams up small tributaries to the Fryingpan were temporarily closed.”

The lower water level will likely shorten the boating season.

Ruedi Reservoir has filled to 98 percent of capacity or more in the seven summers prior to this one.

“That just shows you the role that snowpack plays in filling” the reservoir, Lamb said.

In the last big drought year, 2002, the reservoir filled to just 76 percent of capacity. It bounced back to 95 percent of capacity the following year, thanks to more plentiful snowfall in the winter of 2002-03.

scondon@aspentimes.com