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Old 07-04-2013   #1
Del Norte, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 77
Barrel Springs

Just curious, was on the Colorado today and noticed the flow is almost completely shut off on the Barrel Springs section, maybe 50 cfs? American Whitewater has the flow listed at 1400 cfs!!

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Old 07-04-2013   #2
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 524
Xcel Energy - Shoshone Generating Station

AKA senior water right holder and a driving force of releasing water from the headwaters reservoirs. They'll let just enough trickle out of the dams to maintain historic flows at the power plant
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Old 07-05-2013   #3
Montrose, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 274
I have found that the american whitewater site is constantly way-off on several flow guages. They usually lack updating current flows so may be up to several days behind in actually flows. The USGS flow site directly below the american whitewater site is much more current and has all the guages in colorado.
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Old 07-05-2013   #4
peterB's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 567
sometimes they just don't know the right gauge. They usually fix it if someone sends them the correct link. Unfortunately, there is not a specific Barrel gauge. You just subtract 1400ish from whatever the Dotsero Guage is. Usually 1700 or 1800 is runnable.
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Old 07-08-2013   #5
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, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 80
Peter, you're correct - There isnt a specific gage for the bypass reach below Shoshone HydroPlant. We rely on the upstream gage (Colorado River below Dotsero), and calculate based on whether the Xcel plant is operating at full capacity, or reduced capacity if an exchange with Denver Water is in place, for example.
Since Xcel runs two turbines at Shoshone, both ~ 700cfs, its fair to assume that flows in Barrel Springs are equal to Dotsero minus 1400cfs. Likewise, if the plant is only running one turbine, flows can be estimated as Dotsero minus ~ 700cfs. In some extreme cases, Shoshone may not be calling for any water...allowing for more storage upstream.

Before May 20th this year, Denver Water and Xcel did implement an exchange that relaxed the senior water rights at Shoshone, and reduced early season releases from headwater reservoirs on the Colorado River. This happens when snowpack and reservoir storage are below certain percentages, and allows front range water providers to capture water that would have been released/obligated to Shoshone.
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