Wet weather filling Ruedi Reservoir | AspenTimes.com

Wet weather filling Ruedi Reservoir

The Upper Fryingpan Valley is defying expectations this winter by pumping more water into Ruedi Reservoir than expected, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.The bureau increased the amount of water released from the Ruedi Dam earlier this month because the reservoir’s water level wasn’t dropping as rapidly as expected. The agency manages the water level so there will be plenty of room for storage by the time the spring runoff begins. It wants to avoid overtopping the dam and sending large amounts of water down the Fryingpan River toward Basalt during runoff.The bureau adjusted by bumping up the release rate from 90 to 115 cubic feet per second. Water from Rocky Fork, a creek that runs into the Fryingpan just below the dam, produced a flow of about 120 cfs in the river.In an e-mail to people interested in Ruedi operations, Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Kara Lamb wrote that the typical winter release rate from the dam is 90 cfs. That level was set in November according to standard procedure.”However, it has been a strange season, and inflows to the reservoir have not dropped off as much as we’d like to see in the fall,” Lamb wrote.The amount of water flowing into the reservoir averages about 45 cfs in December. This year it has been running between 60 and 65 cfs.It’s been a particularly wet winter in the Fryingpan Valley. The snowpack for the entire Roaring Fork River basin, which includes the Fryingpan, is about 22 percent above average. But in the Fryingpan, three snow measuring stations maintained by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service show the Fryingpan is between 52 and 89 percent above average, depending on elevation. “Also, we began the fall and winter season with a higher water elevation in the reservoir than usual. Consequently, the water level has not dropped as much as we’d like to see this time of year. So, we are bumping up releases slightly to keep the water level down,” Lamb wrote.The reservoir averages storage of about 78,000 acre-feet at this time of year. Tuesday it was about 4,000 acre-feet above average.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com