Rules tighten for boats entering Basalt-area’s Ruedi Reservoir

Staff report
A boat inspection program will be expanded this summer to keep Ruedi Reservoir free of zebra and quagga mussels. There will be an open house April 12 at Basalt Library to discuss the program.
Aspen Times file photo |

Ruedi Reservoir’s boat-inspection program will be the topic of a meeting April 12 in the continued effort to prevent invasive species from entering the reservoir.

The Ruedi Water and Power Authority will host the meeting at 5 p.m. in the Basalt Library meeting room.

The boat-inspection program will be held for the seventh year. Inspectors look for zebra and quagga mussels as well as other aquatic nuisance species that have proliferated in waterways throughout the United States.

A coalition of governments has worked to keep the invasive species out of Ruedi because the stakes are so high. The mussels could proliferate to the point where they collapse the reservoir’s natural food chain and affect fishing. They also could gum up the infrastructure needed for the hydroelectric works below the dam.

The inspection program will be expanded to cover a longer period time. It will start May 1 and extend into October, depending on weather conditions.

“In addition, the main Ruedi boat ramp will be gated and only be opened to motorized vehicles and watercraft when inspectors are on-site,” said Ruedi Water and Power Authority executive director Mark Fuller in a statement. “This is intended to prevent potentially infested boats from entering water during off hours.”

The hours of operation will be sunrise to sunset, seven days per week. It will include early-open days to accommodate pre-dawn launches.

There will be no fee for the inspections. Boats that are deemed high risk for invasive species will be sent to the decontamination station prior to being allowed to launch.

The water and power authority is funding the program along with the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Basalt town government and other local governments. Extra funds were sought this year after the state funding was pared down.

“Although the 2017 program may impose minor inconveniences on some boaters and reservoir users, we believe that a full-time program is necessary to assure Ruedi’s continued health,” Fuller said in the statement.