Back in the day, the upper section of the Fryingpan could be really huge. Now that there are water diversion projects to the east slope (Fry-Ark and Busk Ivanhoe), some of that water is definitely going under the divide. But also, I think we just aren't seeing the snow storms that used to hit up there 80-90 years ago. Looking back through the historic flow charts we have here at Reclamation--peak flows cover the map: 1911--1800 cfs; 1917--2500 cfs; 1918--800 cfs; 1954--655 cfs; 1957--2300 cfs; 1962:--1900 cfs.
As part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, we built Ruedi Reservoir from 1964-1968 and the Boustead Tunnel from '65-'70.
All that said, run off on the 'Pan still peaks up there, despite diversions. We've had peaks of 1100 cfs and higher in the last decade. Back in the 1980s, we even passed inflows that high on down to the lower section.
There are more programs on the river, now, twenty years later. But, we're expecting a significant peak this year, too. In fact, we're planning a large release, around 800 cfs, from Ruedi Dam down the Lower Fryingpan in late May or early June. We're trying to time it with the peak on the Colorado River to help benefit endangered fish.
So, I'll stay in touch if any of you are interested in that lower section.
Eastern Colorado Office
Bureau of Reclamation