Hey Buzzards -
See the below email from the Lead Hydrographer of the Colorado DNR, Craig Bruner. His message pertains to the water gage at Maroon Creek up here in Aspen, which reflects the water level for the Slaughterhouse section of the Roaring Fork River. About a half-dozen commercial outfitters, along with countless recreational boaters and anglers, rely on this gage to asses current river conditions throughout the year.
The issue on hand has to do with discontinuing high-flow data at levels over 325cfs, citing three reasons for doing so as stated below. The Conservancy is welcoming input on this decision currently, and as river runners we have the opportunity (and responsibility) to voice our opinions and needs here! As both a commercial guide on the Slaughterhouse section, and a recreational kayaker too, I know that not having a daily reference of the water level in this section will be devastating. And scary!
400 cfs is our minimum commercial cut-off for Slaughterhouse, which goes to say that if anything we rely of this gage at any level OVER what the Conservancy may discontinue providing. At levels over 1500cfs, Slaughterhouse becomes consistent and challenging high-level Class IV, and at levels nearing 2000cfs and above, two rapids become mostly Class V (Entrance Exam & Hells Half Mile). Our maximum commercial cut-off is near 2200cfs, largely due to the bridge near the water treatment plant becoming impossible to pass under at such elevated flows. Needless to say, at this level, trips are very intense and stressful - what if we had no idea what the level was, wondering as we negotiate PIA rapid if the boat will be able to get under the bridge or not...
Our job of safely guiding oftentimes unknowing and inexperienced paddlers down this intense stretch of river carries a heavy weight of responsibility; a burden that we gladly accept because we love The River, but a burden that is also widely overlooked and under appreciated. The severity and potential danger of this stretch was sadly illuminated by a fatality there just last summer.
From a mere safety standpoint, access to flow data in this area gives commercial and recreational boaters a reliable and safe way of knowing when the river is simply too high to run safely, or when it's too low to reasonably squeak down. This data provides much more than simple, raw numbers for us; we rely on this data to make gametime decisions that accurately and safely impact anyone participating in any river sport on this section.
I hope our river community, perhaps both locally and non-locally, can shoot a quick email to Craig below and let him know how you value the gage at Maroon Creek. If you have ever paddled the Roaring Fork River, then you know how pristine and beautiful this section is, offering everything from pee-in-your-wetsuit action to scenic wildlife-scoping floats. If you have never paddled up here, then what are you waiting for?! We should have a relatively average runoff up here in the Roaring Fork headwaters and would love to see you on the river.
Let's do our best to keep this gage up and going!!
Thanks in advance,
From: Bruner - DNR, Craig [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 1:43 PM
Subject: Roaring Fork River below Maroon Creek (ROABMCCO) gage operation status
High flow data at the subject gage (discharge exceeding 325 cfs) will no longer be verified for accuracy by measurements due to the following:
-The cableway needed to perform high flow measurements at the subject gage has been condemned.
-Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District no longer requires high flow record data for plant discharge compliance.
-No administrative need for high flow data
Accordingly, high flow measurements will not be performed at this gage to verify the rating. Gage operation/measurements will continue to provide accurate data at flows below 325 cfs (approx. Aug. 1st through April 30th). Discharge transmission will continue through the high flow period this year. The current rating should remain reasonably accurate based on below average snowpack/run-off, and corresponding stable control anticipated this year.
This notification is being sent to provide opportunity for input regarding need for high flow data at this location by other entities. Cableway replacement will be required to maintain accurate high flow data, which will require funding assistance from other entities needing continued operation, as cost estimates for replacement exceed $40,000. Please forward this to other organizations/entities you believe will be impacted by discontinued high flow data, and contact us regarding any questions or concerns you may have. Thank you.
Division 5 Water Resources
P 970-945-5665 x5024 f 970-945-8741
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