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Old 05-13-2013   #1
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
2013 NFSP / Robert Tunnel Flows

Happy spring time! Time to kick off the north fork flows thread.

Runoff is just getting started on the front range. The tunnel is currently off as the combo late season precip and cool weather, and low demand have kept the tunnel need down.

No word from Denver Water on when the tunnel might go on. Denver Water declared a stage two drought plan, which puts mandatory watering restrictions in place. They expect a 20% decrease in overall water use, mainly in the summer.

Denver Water canceled plans to drain Antero reservoir due to late season snow pack increases.

Keep an eye on the gauges, you never know when they might need the water.

Love the flows begin!

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Old 05-21-2013   #2
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
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No flows from the tunnel yet. With lots of spring precip and runoff starting, Denver Water hasn't needed any tunnel flows, and they don't think they will turn on the tunnel in the near term.

Thats ok though... store it and let it flow in July / Aug when everythign else is dry.

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Old 05-21-2013   #3
smauk2's Avatar
Near water (hopefully), Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
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Originally Posted by deepsouthpaddler View Post
Thats ok though... store it and let it flow in July / Aug when everythign else is dry.
This makes me happy.
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Old 06-03-2013   #4
Denver, Colorado
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6/3 update...

Denver Water told me they made the order to turn on the tunnel to 100 cfs today. That would put about 250 in the north fork based on current flows. The north fork snowmelt is responding to the heat, so the north fork could be on the the cusp of runnable here shortly.

The weather, runoff, water demand etc is highly variable right now, so I'd expect changes to come frequently.

As a reminder... DW typically makes tunnel changes mid moring around 9-10 am, and it typically takes 2-3 hours for tunnel water changes to hit the bailey gauge.

June is finally here! Hope you are all getting wet and having some good paddling.
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Old 06-10-2013   #5
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
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6/10 update...

Spoke to Denver Water today. Tunnel holding at 75 cfs, which they dropped it to last friday. They think the will probably go up with the tunnel this week, but don't know when or how much. Its pretty tricky business for them now as they are watching demand and runoff and trying to figure out how much water to pull.

Keep your eyes on the gauges, and I will update later in the week.
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Old 06-17-2013   #6
Denver, Colorado
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6/17 update...

Denver Water has the tunnel up to 190 cfs today, and the north fork is in. Spoke with them this morning, but they didn't have an update yet on flows.

The DW board is meeting this week to determine if they will move from stage II drought restrictions (mandatory watering restrictions) to stage I drought restrictions, which I think are voluntary.

DW contact said that stage II mandatory restrictions drop demand by about 20% and if they keep up this year, tunnel flows could be lower than otherwise.

Also, DW has been taking a lot of water through the south boulder creek / gross reservoir system, which has lowered the demand for tunnel water.

I am going to a meeting this week at Denver Water for the annual south platte protection plan. The DW folks are going to put spot on the agenda to talk about the success of Bailey Fest. I'm really pumped to see river recreation get some positive PR in front of a room of water managers, wildlife folks, fishermen etc. DW contact mentioned that the Board members want to plan a field trip up to Bailey Fest this year. If you see them up there, say THANKS!
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Old 06-21-2013   #7
Denver, Colorado
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Join Date: Apr 2004
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6/21 update...

Denver Water is bumping up the tunnel from 220 to 270. This should put flows in the north fork at 400 cfs or a tad over. Nice summertime flows!

Denver Water told me that there is a rumor that the folks fighing the lime gulch fire near foxton might ask Denver Water to turn down the tunnel to help them cross the river easier while fighting the fire. Keep an eye on the gauges this weekend if you go. Remember that it takes 2-3 hrs for tunnel changes to get to Bailey, so if you check flows before you put on and the tunnel is still on, you are good to go.

I went to Denver Water's annual South Platte Protection Plan meeting. Denver Water gives an update on snowpack conditions and water supply issues. The SPPP was an alternate plan to wild and scenic status and it outlined fisheries management on the main stem and whitewater recreation on the north fork as highly valued activities that Denver Water would try to help improve in its operations. DW does a lot to manage flows and water temps to try and help the fisheries on the main stem. To help recreational boating, I worked with Denver Water to come up with the Bailey Fest release weekend. This year I gave the meeting a report of how Bailey Fest is going and, it was recieved very well. The folks at this meeting are water managers from metro and suburbs, land owner reps, fishing reps, etc. By my calculations we had about 300 people at bailey fest that probably ran the river at least twice that weekend for a total of 600 user days on the river that weekend (user day = 1 person paddling 1 day). My guess at how many folks would paddle Bailey on any given weekend in August if Bailey was running was 60, and thats probably an over statement. I noted that Bailey Fest has basically increased the user days by a factor of 10 by planning it out and having a release. We also get a lot of people from far away that would likely never risk the skunk factor of driving to bailey for the weekend if it were not for the release. I was really pumped to see a very positive response to Bailey Fest from Denver Water and many of the representatives sitting around the table.

On the water supply front... Denver Water declared a stage II drought, which has mandatory watering restrictions that has but demand by about 20%. The Denver Water board is meeting next week, and one issue is whether they should drop back to stage I drought restrictions (voluntary) given that april snows boosted water supply and runoff. The stage II was declacred before April's saving storms came.

Even with April's good snow, Cheeseman reservoir will likely not fill this year, which means Denver Water is releasing the bare minimimum out of cheesemen reservoir. They just went up to 70 cfs from 40 cfs, which is a very low flow there. The fisherman are pissed as its tough for he fish at that low of flow.

As for the tunnel, we will probably see some decent flows this summer, but its not clear how much water they will bring over. If the drought restrictions get rolled back, flows in the north fork will likely go up vs. what they would have otherwise.

First day of summer... hope you get on some good water!
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Old 06-21-2013   #8
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
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Thanks for the update, and for being such a great representative for the paddling community at these meetings!
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Old 06-24-2013   #9
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
Thanks Mark!

6/24 update...

Called Denver Water today, but nobody knew what the plan was since the main guy was out. The blip on the gauge got me thinking they were turning it down, but I have learned that that signature is when the power plant trips and they bring it back up.

Looks like Denver Water is holding the 275 for now. Not sure what they will do... Looks like a hot week and natural flow is tanking. Wouldn't be surprised to see the tunnel bump up a bit, but 275 is pretty high of a tunnel flow overall.

Paddled Bailey at just over 400 this weekend, and it was awesome, as usual.

The Bailey Fest foamie course made an appearance at this past weekends South Platte Riverfest. Foamie carnage was in full force, and the kids loved it, proving that loving carnage is innate.
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Old 06-24-2013   #10
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Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 288
Bailey was great on Sunday over 400 cfs. The log in between the 2nd and 3rd falls isn't too much of an issue but I imagine at bailey Fest it might catch a few off guard.

FYI- someone has dropped probably 50+ rubber bathroom duckies in the river. They weren't there 3 weeks ago.

We paddled along side the land owner yesterday. He was very happy with us and we thanked him multiple times for his limited access. Keep up the positive experiences with this guy before we TURN ON THE TUNNEL!

History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.
-Winston Churchill-
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