Colorado River Ran Dry near Glenwood Springs - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 11-18-2018   #1
 
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Colorado River Ran Dry near Glenwood Springs

I drove past the Colorado near Glenwood Springs on Friday. There were ten or so miles of dry riverbed, looked like part of the Shoshone run. WTF? The water stopped after the little dam in the canyon, then returned seemingly out of nowhere and was flowing like normal at the riverside rest area. Looks like it came out of the Shoshone hydroelectric plant. Can they dry up the river to generate power like that?

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Old 11-18-2018   #2
 
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Yes. Yes they can.

It has been that way for over a 100 years (the power plant system was built in the early 1900's) and that is very normal. Only time that section runs is if the flow of the river exceeds the capacity of the tunnels that feed the power plant or if the plant is turned off for maintenance.

Sacrificing wateflow through that section is actually overall beneficial, since the Power Plant owns water rights and that means a guaranteed amount of water will always flow down the river.

Here is a great article about it...

https://www.hcn.org/articles/colorad...ized-influence
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Old 11-18-2018   #3
 
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Well hot damn. I'm glad I remembered to look this up. Thanks Mayhem! I guess the trout swim downstream when this happens and make it out OK. But will someone pleeeeease think of the mayflies? They've been slaughtered by the millions. Crayfish, too.
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Old 11-18-2018   #4
 
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Fishingraft,

I understand your concern for some of the invertebrates along this stretch, however the Shoshone Powerplant water right plays a major role in maintaining native fish habitat and also gives us boatable flows from Green Mountain Reservoir all the way down to the confluence with the Roaring Fork, and really helps out a lot all the way to the confluence with the Gunnison. While many rafters don't like dams, this one assures good boating and extends the season for many of us all the way until it ices up and even on New Year's day.

Without the Public Service water right call, you would be dragging your boat down most of the Upper Colorado instead of ripping lips with a nice 1000 cfs flow.

Here's an article on it, it's a great place to start learning the bigger picture of water management in the West.

-AH

Shoshone hydro plant, the most fascinating water right in the West
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Old 11-18-2018   #5
 
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Originally Posted by Andy H. View Post
Fishingraft,

I understand your concern for some of the invertebrates along this stretch, however the Shoshone Powerplant water right plays a major role in maintaining native fish habitat and also gives us boatable flows from Green Mountain Reservoir all the way down to the confluence with the Roaring Fork, and really helps out a lot all the way to the confluence with the Gunnison. While many rafters don't like dams, this one assures good boating and extends the season for many of us all the way until it ices up and even on New Year's day.

Without the Public Service water right call, you would be dragging your boat down most of the Upper Colorado instead of ripping lips with a nice 1000 cfs flow.

Here's an article on it, it's a great place to start learning the bigger picture of water management in the West.

-AH

Shoshone hydro plant, the most fascinating water right in the West
I was joshing about the bugs. Bugs are nasty, who cares if they desiccate. And I don't doubt your assessment about the operation/benefits of the dam. I was just blown away by seeing that stretch of the river dry. The double-take I made when I first noticed nearly drove me off the road.

Also, I collected at least 40 paddles and a couple YETI coolers, one still full of dank, heady IPAs (with ice to boot, go YETI!). There's plenty more. I've always dreamed of exploring the bottom of a dry water body, and it was everything I imagined it'd be. So much stuff, thousands upon thousands of streamers, nymphs, and dries. Someone dumped a dead shark down there, too, probably to scare off the looters (I hear it's the same guy who did it in the Ohio). It's a FIRE SALE in the Colorado, get the coolers and paddles while they last!

In all seriousness, thanks guys--you put this mystery to rest for me. You'd be ashamed of me for my Colorado River ignorance if you knew what I did for a living, or if you knew what I've named my dog.
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Old 11-19-2018   #6
 
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Raft guide and rio
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Old 11-19-2018   #7
 
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And for what it’s worth they are not even generating power. I was hurt also when I saw this. They have equipment in the river at the dam site so they can’t spill water. They are pumping it up hill and dumping it down the bypass tube. A full 800 cfs. Pretty impressive to see it blast out of the tube that hard.

I was pissed they pumped it up hill and just let it come back down, you’d think they’d want to generate power.

Bummer about the fish and bugs though, it smelled horrible as we ran laps on Shoshone, not sure why but it smelled like sao paolo, I meant South Platte
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Old 11-19-2018   #8
 
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Raft guide and rio
youtube kayaker and boof
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Old 11-20-2018   #9
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Checkout this article about securing flows for recreational use. A huge thanks to American Whitewater and all those involved.
https://www.postindependent.com/news...meNvFDsQAwYQCg
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Old 11-21-2018   #10
 
Carbondale, Colorado
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Originally Posted by bobbuilds View Post
And for what it’s worth they are not even generating power. I was hurt also when I saw this. They have equipment in the river at the dam site so they can’t spill water. They are pumping it up hill and dumping it down the bypass tube. A full 800 cfs. Pretty impressive to see it blast out of the tube that hard.

I was pissed they pumped it up hill and just let it come back down, you’d think they’d want to generate power.

Bummer about the fish and bugs though, it smelled horrible as we ran laps on Shoshone, not sure why but it smelled like sao paolo, I meant South Platte

It's a fascinating plant with a rich and important history. They don't pump water up hill, they divert into a tunnel that runs almost level. The river falls so after a few miles they have a couple of hundred feet of head. They generate power almost continuously, the nameplate capacity is 15 MW but most time I think it runs around 10-12. The "impressive" water flow that you mentioned may have been from the bypass tubes. If the plant goes off line all that water in the tunnels has to go somewhere so it overflows the fore-bay tank and runs down to the river in bypass tubes where it is a very impressive sight. Under normal (powered) operation the discharge from the plant is discharged under water (much less impressive though you can definitely see it coming out) into the river. The dam does spill water any time there is more than the water right (diversion) for the plant. Barrel Springs is rip roaring for six months a year. Although the section downstream of the dam (called a bypass reach) looks "dry" during low flow conditions there is a minimum stream flow and always water in that stretch. I think 60 cfs but can't confirm that. As mentioned by others this water right is very senior (1902) and important for maintaining water in the river.
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