Ruedi releases bump up as reservoir fills
BASALT – The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was forced to increase releases from Ruedi Reservoir into already swollen rivers Wednesday after hot temperatures have accelerated snowmelt and filled the tub more quickly than anticipated.
With the water coming from Rocky Fork Creek, just below the dam, flows from Ruedi reached about 807 cubic feet per second by 3 p.m. Wednesday, said Kara Lamb, public information specialist with the reclamation bureau.
Lamb said the agency was keeping Pitkin County Emergency Management personnel appraised of its actions. “I believe 850 cfs is where the real concern lies,” Lamb said. Minor flooding along the Fryingpan River can occur at that level.
Pitkin County issued a flood advisory at 2:19 p.m. Wednesday for residents in low lying areas along the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers. “Releases from local reservoirs above Aspen and Basalt are increasing river runoff levels,” the advisory said. It is in effect for 48 hours. A flood preparedness hotline was activated at 429-1800.
The reclamation bureau increased releases to slow the speed at which Ruedi was filling. Officials wants to avoid a situation where the reservoir is full and spilling or the inflow is bypassed at a higher than desirable rate. “We’re trying to stave that off,” Lamb said.
It is possible another 50 cfs might have to be released from Ruedi, said Carlos Lora, hydrology engineer with the reclamation bureau.
“We don’t want to create any headaches for people below,” he said.
As late as June 3, there were doubts the reservoir would fill, Lora said. The sudden high temperatures brought the runoff in a torrent and “caught everybody by surprise,” he said.
He is projecting Ruedi could fill as soon as Friday, depending on weather conditions. The inflow to Ruedi Reservoir surged as high as 2,000 cfs from the Upper Fryingpan River and small streams that directly feed the reservoir during the warm spell, Lamb said. However, the inflow has also hovered at about half that amount at times.
Lora said the weather over the next few days will dictate how fast the reservoir fills. Inflows to Ruedi could ease by the weekend, when temperatures are supposed to be cooler.
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