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Old 10-05-2012   #1
alta, Utah
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 121
grand canyon high flow/sediment input experiment coming in November

Bureau of Reclamation - Upper Colorado Region Water Operations: Current Status: Lake Powell

My apologies if this was posted already. I did a quick search and didn't see anything

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Old 10-08-2012   #2
The Mogur's Avatar
Oregon City, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1972
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 457
Does anyone know how low they will allow the level of Lake Powell to go? They're predicting 55% of capacity by the end of next year. At what point would they curtail releases from Glen Canyon Dam in order to restore the water level? Or are they obligated by contract to release water whether or not the inflow is adequate to maintain the reservoir level?

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Old 10-08-2012   #3
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883
Hi Mogur,

There is a rather complicated equalization program in effect between Powell and Mead. Read about it here:


Computer models, operating tiers, upper-, mid-, and lower-balancing, and other stuff that is (of course) subject to modification. It's enough to numb the brain.


Rich Phillips
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Old 10-09-2012   #4
shattusi's Avatar
steamboat springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 23
i am not sure it makes sense to me either,especially on such a low water year. but, i do get to experience the high water on my grand trip this nov. anybody been down the canyon @ like 42,000? what does shit look like just after phantom that high? horn is rough @ low water...
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Old 10-09-2012   #5
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 524
Rich, thanks for the link.

One thing to remember out of all this is that Mead is run in "surplus" mode down quite low, when it is rather quickly declared "drought", because the lower basin uses more water than what is released during "normal" flows. That's buried in one of the other Bur Rec documents somewhere, and is part of the reason that Mead continues to drop even when Powell is sending 8.23 maf through the Ditch.

The Colorado River Compact requires that the upper basin deliver to Lee's Ferry a 10-year rolling average of 1/2 the (1920's) average annual flow of 15 maf + 1/2 of the 1.46 maf we owe Mexico by treaty. This gets implemented as releasing an annual minimum of 8.23 maf from Powell. Of course, the river's annual flow is actually less than that... The math only works because the upper basin doesn't use it's full allotment. They'll run Powell down to empty if needed, because the alternative is to place a call on upper basin water rights holders.

Also, from a boater perspective, our best bet on keeping reasonable beaches in Grand Canyon is to have as low a flow as possible most of the year to minimize downstream sediment transport interspersed with periodic high flows to lift the sand from the river bottom up onto the shore where we can camp on it. Surprisingly little sediment gets moved downstream during brief high flows, much more gets circulated from the bottom of the eddies to the shore.
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Old 10-19-2012   #6
Vancouver, BC
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 14
Has anyone run the river at this level? Anything to watch out for? I am guessing some rapids will wash out and other narrower ones will get trickier?
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Old 10-19-2012   #7
Colo Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 599
Presuming you mean at about 40,000, watch out for a big wave at the bottom right of Grapevine. It surprises people, being down there. Just make sure you're straight for it. A little sideways, and you are over.

Also, the end of Serpentine and the middle right of Sapphire.

Just to name a few.
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Old 10-24-2012   #8
shattusi's Avatar
steamboat springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 23
thanks david, any other specifics you could remember would be awesome.
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Old 10-24-2012   #9
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Delta, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1971
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 161
We were down there during the last high flow. One 16' raft, 2 13' rafts and one mini-me with oars. They started raising the water level when we were going into Horn. Some rapids were easy and some harder. Lava was ugly. The hard part will be finding camps. The list they gave us was not that accurate. I thout that there would be a lot of wood and trash in the water but no problems. Don't underestimate how high the water will come up and how mush rope you will need to tie off the boats. And yes the mini-me was quite a ride.
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Old 10-26-2012   #10
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 15
I am going to be putting in on Nov 24th, which according to my estimates on the high flow experiment will be on the final 3 days when they are dropping the water back from 42000 to about 8000. Any tips on what to look out for in the first few days at high water?

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