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Old 07-23-2010   #21
Ft. Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 139
Interesting info about the Big T. Prior to the 1976 flood there was a powerplant located in the canyon at Vistinez park... Im not sure if the other powerplants (pole hill, etc) existed then but it is a damn shame that they did not rebuild the powerplant in the big thompson as there is a huge amount of water moving from lake granby to the east slope via the CBT project. Currently they are releasing 125 cfs in the Big T, I still dont understand why they could not release something like 80-100 cfs for 6 days of the week and then release 450 cfs for 8 hours on a saturday (even if this were once a month)? In late summer they have the storage in Lake Estes and could still keep the same flow in the pole hill tunnel for power generation. Im guessing if there were commercial rafting opportunities on the Big T things would be different...

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Old 07-23-2010   #22
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 772
A simple reason to run the hydropower through pipes instead of the river is pipes are 100% efficient and rivers have losses. If they had to pipe the water anyways there wouldn't be much incentive to build another instream plant.

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Old 07-23-2010   #23
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,095
Bwest, I've given shuttles and put in / takeout some thought.

The common put in at the old farmers union can only park 3-4 vehicles before cars start piling up on the county road. I'd request that boaters not use this put in to avoid potential conflicts with the private landowners. My solution is to have boaters launch at McGraw park in bailey behind the ATF. There is enough space there for several cars to unload boats and gear at the same time. Bailey and the Rawhide flyfishers installed a small kayak launch with a flat rock to launch off of there. Across the highway, there is ample parking at the bailey business center for at least 30 vehicles that has been OK'd by the Platte Canyon Chamber of Commerce folks in bailey. After you drop all your gear at the park, drive the car across the street, park at the business center, and walk the short (~1000 ft / 3 mins) distance back to the put in. If boaters carpool for shuttle, this set up could easily handle over 100 boaters and 30 vehicles. I would be surprised if this many folks showed up. I'll put up signs to guide folks during the event, but its close, easy, and is all on public / town property.

I have given the shuttle idea some thought, but I don't have budget to pay for shuttle drivers or vehicles (ie raft company bus), and I don't want to bite off trying to organize a bunch of shuttle bunnies as I'm going to have a lot of planning and logistics to do as is. I think the best bet this time around is for folks coming to the event to carpool to the takeout from where ever they are coming from, and do your best to fill up shuttle vehicles to the top, and have boaters work out shuttles on their own. If shuttles are an issue this year and the event goes off next year, I'll consider options to improve the shuttle situation, but I think we will be fine this year.

With that said, if anyone wants to volunteer to help run shuttles or organize shuttles, feel free to contact me. I'd be happy to have some help with this. Also, for folks who want to take only one car to the event, there will be multiple folks to run shuttle with at the takeout.
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Old 07-23-2010   #24
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,095
Afox... they are releasing 125 cfs into the river because thats the minimum streamflow requirement for fishery / riparian habitat. They can't cut it back lower to bump it up later because they would go below the min streamflow requirement. Also, if they go above 125 cfs, they would voluntarily be sending water through the river that they could otherwise use for power generation, thus they lose money. The colorado big thompson project was installed well before the flood, if I recall, planning was started in the 30's and installion was in the 40's 50's maybe? The vast majority of the water that is diverted is run through power plants, to the tune of $90 million in revenue. They try to never put more water in the river than they need to for fishery flows. I think that there is some power generation in the big T canyon that the city of loveland operates. I think loveland takes out water at the idlewylde dam and generates power with it. Maybe its still at VS park?

The only way the idea of cut the releases back, and then bump it up to boatable flow idea really works within the current system is if the big T above lake estes is bringing in enough inflow to fill up the tubes for olympus (550 cfs) and enough water to satisfy the fish min flow (125 cfs) and still have some excess flows left over. The total for fish and tubes is 675 cfs. If the big T above lake estes were flowing 775 cfs, that would mean that they would have to put 225 in the river. In this instance, they could potentially cut back the flow to 125 for a couple of days and bump up flows to 300-400 for a day. The problem with this is that the big T above lake estes average peak is around 600 cfs. In short, only in exceptionally big runoff years (like this year) does the big T above lake estes deliver enough water to put extra water in the river. The reason its all dependent on the big T above lake estes is that if the big T is fulfilling the power generation and min stream flows, they won't pull water from the west slope, they will just keep it in storage until they need it. Once the big T natural flows drop down so that there is capacity in the system, they increase west slope diversions to keep the system filled up for power generation.

I looked back at several years of big T flow data to study the opportunity. Basically most years, there simply isn't enough water to do it. In some years, there is a lot of water (like this year), but its so much water that you get boatable flows anyway. In maybe 10% of the years there would be a situation where just enough runoff was coming in so that its more than system capacity, but river flows are a little less than boatable (ie 200's). If you got boatable flows then it would mean that you would have a 300-350 cfs release on the big T when the entire front range is peaking. My take is that its simply not worth the effort to get big T releases during runoff because 1) there isn't enough flow to do it in the majority of years, and 2) if you got enough water to do it, everything on the front range is huge and the big T would be low, with relatively low interest. I know I'd rather go run clear creek, boulder creek, or the poudre at cranking high flows that go to the big T at 300. I'm going to keep on working on big T opportunities, but there is limited scope for rec flows withing the bureau of reclamations current set up.

Sorry if I'm not converying the details well enough... there are a lot of moving parts, and its kind of hard to grasp unless you sit down with some maps, look at the entire system and understand how all the parts fit together. If you want more info, let me know.
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Old 07-23-2010   #25
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,095
Also, nathan is correct, there are losses running water though the river. Not sure what it is on the big T, but on the poudre they typically say 5% of the water is lost to evaporation and river losses.
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Old 07-28-2010   #26
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,095
2.5 weeks til bailey fest. Hope to see a bunch of folks down there. Be sure to tell your buddies who don't read mountainbuzz that there will be water in the river and free food and beer at the takeout.

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