Hello all -
I attended the annual South Platte Protection Plan meeting yesterday and have a bunch of news about the upcoming season...this year there is good news and bad news...
The bad news is that it is going to be a minimal year for the North Fork. There's been a lot of talk here about the SP reservoirs being full (they are at 92%) and how it will result in Dillon releases into the Blue. That is correct. Under the water compacts in place, Denver and other cities must exhaust their eastern slope water before they can draw from Dillon down the NF. Because we have a lot of water on the eastern slope in storage and a 106% snowpack in the SP watershed, Bailey and Foxton will be poor this year. The DWB is *forecasting* average flows for May, June, July, August, and September as 61, 107, 248, 95 and 123 cfs respectively. Those are average flows, and peaks will be higher, but you can see that it will not be like last year. (Last year was a banner summer for Roberts Tunnel releases and the 4th highest annual amount released ever.) Bottom line: we'll have to catch Bailey on natural flows next month and expect the rest of the season to be marginal except for July. It is possible that we will see higher flows on the weekends.
That is the bad news, and it is pretty bad, but the good news, however is pretty good also:
First, because Dillon is almost full and runoff hasn't started, we can expect lots of water release into the Blue River. The forecast for May and June is an average of 512 and 739 cfs respectively. This will give a good season on the Blue as well as bolster Gore and everything else downstream.
Second, we can expect Chatfield to spill during runoff, which I believe creates a playable feature, though I've not been there.
Third, the North Fork's loss will be the South Fork's gain. Antero will release bigger than any year since 2003 (but I don't know if there is a runnable stretch right there). Antero will re-open mid-summer and should have a great stock of fish. Cheeseman outflow is forecasted to be 327, 342, 421, 250, 264 and 233 for May - Oct respectively. Again, peaks will be higher, that's just an average. Should be fun for folks headed to Deckers.
Fourth, DWB is forecasting flows of 130, 260 and 133 cfs for June, July and August through Elevenmile Canyon. Again, that is average, so we can expect higher and lower flows. (Min. recommended is 150 cfs) Hardmen and women, take notice: It looks like there might be peaks in July that will allow boating in Cheeseman Canyon. Please check out the American Whitewater page on this run for important beta on access: American Whitewater - NWRI - South Platte 2. Lake George to Cheesman Reservoir
A lot of work went into getting a truce with the Sportsman's Paradise folks, so please follow the guidelines for floating through their land legally or do the 2 mile portage. More beta here - not a run for folks looking to step up to class V water: Cheeseman Canyon Beta
Fifth, the Hayman fire and some heavy rains have dumped a lot of sediment into the South Fork and the DOW is trying to do some flushing flows to clean out the channel. Flushing might involve a release (from Cheeseman) of 7-800 for a day to get the sediment suspended, then 3-4 more days of 3-400 cfs, then repeating the cycle. DOW indicated that this was something new, so the results were unpredictable. FYI for fishermen - the best fishing below Cheeseman remains between the dam and Schoonover Gluch (where the storm saw a lot of sediment brought down into the SF). FYI the only way to access the SF below Cheeseman is still via the (somewhat arduous) trail from the bottom, as access at the dam is still closed because of DHS measures. I don't know anyone who has boated this section, but with these flows it could well be worth the hike in for those looking to do something new.
* DWB is considering trying to lease some land for parking in the Cathedral Spires area (on the Foxton run).
* They are also planning a $20M+ project to dredge sediment out of Strontia Springs, which has lost a lot of capacity due to the events mentioned above. This sounds like it's a couple years out still, so no word on whether it will affect boater access to Waterton.
* Gross Reservoir average predicted outflow for May-July is 321, 460 and 322 (SBC to Eldo).
* Moffatt Tunnel average releases (Alto-Alto and USB) are forecast at 216, 353 and 178 for May-July.
* Waterton gauge can be expected to hover just under 400 cfs from May-July, with August being down under 100 again.
Please remember that all of this is only a forecast and the weather can change any of it. I will continue Dan's work of getting updates from DWB for weekend flows, but it looks like there will be a lot less action on the NF this season.