2011 NFSP / Roberts Tunnel Flows - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 04-16-2011   #1
 
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2011 NFSP / Roberts Tunnel Flows

Starting off the 2011 season North Fork South Platte / Roberts Tunnel flows update thread.

Flows are currently in the 140-150 cfs range and should stay that way until Denver starts needing water.

Its shaping up to be a potentially good season on the north fork. The upper south platte basin headwaters is below average in some spots which means east slope supplies aren't huge. Blue river basin above lake dillon had an above average year, so west slope supplies are abundant to send water from dillon through roberts tunnel and into the north fork. Low east slope and high west slope supplies mean a good chance for sending water through the tunnel.

Bailey Fest is tentatively scheduled for Aug 13/14 this year. Denver water wants to get the mid May water forecast before planning a scheduled release, so final OK will come later.

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Old 04-19-2011   #2
 
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Saw that they turned up the tunnel to ~280 cfs.

Called Denver Water to see what the plan is, but waiting to hear back (flows guy was out).

Keep checking the gauges!
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Old 04-20-2011   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deepsouthpaddler View Post
Its shaping up to be a potentially good season on the north fork. The upper south platte basin headwaters is below average in some spots which means east slope supplies aren't huge.
How do you figure? I appreciate the optimism, but the basin's not just half full, it's fast approaching 130%!
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Old 04-20-2011   #4
 
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South platte basin as a whole is 130% for snowpack but that covers everything from the poudre down to the headwaters of the south platte above cheeseman and elevenmile. Poudre, clear creek, and big T were all 140%+ at april 1. On april 1 the upper south platte (farthest south portion of the south platte) was 96% of average. The 96% is a bit misleading though as its just a straight up average of the handful of snotel sites with no weighting on watershed size etc.

If you look at the point maps of the colorado snotel sites, you can see a couple of upper south platte sites that are well below average. (one below 50%).
See link below.

http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/ftpref/...epctnormal.pdf

Wet conditions kicked ass in summit, and along the continental divide of the front range, but as you get to the southern portions of the upper south platte drainage, you start hitting the dry areas that did not get snow, and everything to the south is well below average.

If you look at drought conditions, which aren't just snotel, you will see that pretty much most of park county (headwaters of upper south platte) is dry. This means that although the 10,000 ft snotels along the continental divide are doing well, the portions of the upper south platte basin are relatively dry. See map below. Park county is the large county almost in the middle fo the state with the bulge in the yellow countour.

State Drought Monitor

Another factor is that lower elevations on the front range have been very dry this year, even though the high elevation has gotten slammed. This means dry soils, which can absorb water and dampen runoff. Even though snowpack might be X% of average, runoff can be a lower % of average due to dry soils that suck up some of the runoff.

Its the upper south platte headwaters that is currently relatively dry that feeds antero, elevenmile and cheeseman which are the southern portion of denver waters supply system. The other portion is roberts tunnel, which pulls out of lake dillon on the blue river basin. If the upper south platte is below average with dry soil conditions, and the blue river is 130%+ then its a good bet that you will see decent roberts tunnel flows later in the season.

I spoke with Denver Water about some of my observations they agreed, and added to some of the above analysis.

Its a bit long, but thats the logic behind the potential for a pretty good north fork season via the roberts tunnel.
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Old 04-20-2011   #5
 
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Thank you Dr. Foley for your analysis...many well used hours at work went into that analysis I'm sure.

The anticipation is starting to kill me!
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Old 04-21-2011   #6
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Nice work Ian!

I guess I had been thinking that with it all coming into the S. Platte someplace, there wouldn't be much need to add to that by diverting more thru the tunnel, but if the source for Antero/Elevenmile/Cheeseman is low, then yeah--Bailey's gonna rock! Especially with the greater Colorado basin seeing an abundance of snowpack as well.
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Old 04-21-2011   #7
 
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Ian overlooked Aurora's Pan-Ark water coming down the SF:
http://www.auroragov.org/stellent/id...DocName=042117
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Old 04-21-2011   #8
 
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Cadster, I didn't overlook the Aurora water supply. Its treated separately from Denver Water operations, and doesn't have any impact on roberts tunnel or north fork operations. Different players, different system, even though it goes through a portion of the upper south platte briefly.

Denver waters main storage on the east slope is cheeseman, elevenmile, spinney and antero, which are all at the very southern end of the south platte basin.

Anyway... its going to be a kickass year on the front range regardless of how you look at it!
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Old 04-22-2011   #9
 
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Denver water turned up the tunnel to 275 today. They think they will keep it that way for the the weekend, but they could drop it down depending on the weekend rain. Check the gauges before you go. They typically change in the morning if they are going to do it.
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Old 04-22-2011   #10
 
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Quote:
Water levels at leaking Antero Reservoir to be drawn down


Safety concerns about Antero Reservoir near Fairplay have prompted Denver Water to announce that water in the reservoir will be reduced by 2 feet beginning the first week of May.
The release of water will take four to five weeks. The reservoir will remain open to recreation during the drawdown, Denver Water and the Colorado Division of Wildlife said in a joint statement.



Water levels at leaking Antero Reservoir to be drawn down - The Denver Post
I know there are two more reservoirs in between (elevenmile and cheeseman), but I wonder what this means in the grand scheme of things. I would guess that with the dry conditions in the drainage that elevenmile & cheeseman can absorb the excess, but you never know....
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