RRFW Riverwire - High Flow Is A GO! - Mountain Buzz

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Old 10-23-2018   #1
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 930
RRFW Riverwire - High Flow Is A GO!

RRFW Riverwire - High Flow Experiment a GO!
October 23, 2018

On November 5-8, 2018, the Department of the Interior will conduct a high-flow experimental (HFE) release from Glen Canyon Dam. This HFE will include a peak magnitude release of approximately 38,100 cubic feet per second (cfs) for 60 hours (four days including ramping from baseflows to peak release) to move accumulated sediment downstream to help rebuild beaches and sandbars.

Schedule & Duration

Nov. 5 - 6:00 a.m. begin upramp to powerplant capacity (~23,100 cfs) [7 generation units]
Nov. 5 - 10:00 a.m. open bypass tubes, reach full bypass at 2:00 p.m.

Nov. 8 - 9:00 a.m. end of bypass
Nov. 8 - 3:00 p.m. end of High Flow experiment.

Total duration: 3 days & 10 hours; 2 days at peak release

Ramp Rates

Ramp up: 4,000 cfs/hr from 6,500 - 23,100 cfs, then 3,750 cfs/hr to peak (38,100 cfs)

Ramp down: 1,875 cfs/hr from 38,100 23,100 cfs, then 2,500 cfs/hr to 9,000 cfs

High Flow Experiment Release Details

Maximum total release: 38,100 cfs
Powerplant capacity: 23,100 cfs
River outlet tubes: 15,000 cfs
Hydropower generation units available: 7 (one unit off-line for replacement)
River outlet tubes: 4
Releases and Lake Elevation
Releases will range from 6,500 - 9,000 cfs prior to and after the HFE
Lake elevation is projected to decrease by approximately 2 feet during the 5-day experiment.


The "high flow" is close to the lowest pre-dam seasonal high flows seen yearly before the Glen Canyon Dam bypass closed in 1963.

This release courtesy Bureau of Reclamation

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Old 10-23-2018   #2
ColoradoDave's Avatar
Western Slope, CO, Colorado
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 321
I can smell the desperation. Lake Mead barely above rationing level and will very shortly turn and head lower despite the large releases so far, to an end game of less than 1075' at end of this year unless something is done. This is like the last card being played out of a bad hand.

We here in Western CO learned that they don't give a rip about any fish or any gravel bars with the drivel they spouted about all the big plans for future McPhee releases when water levels were up. With full reservoirs, it's easy to play the good guy to everybody. Only 1 year later, every fish below McFee ( Spelling Intended ) in the Dolores is likely dead.

Traditionally, water was kept in Lake Powell vs. Lake Mead because the evaporation and percolation in Lake Mead is much greater. But now, everything is being shuttled down to Lake Mead to delay the inevitable against all physical reality prudence.
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Old 10-25-2018   #3
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2006
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You're not wrong that water supply in the Colorado basin is getting to desperation levels, but the few days of high flows out of Powell are the result of several decades of research on beach habitat in the Grand Canyon. River runners do better with the sand up on a beach rather than down at the bottom of the eddy, and the high flows redistribute sediment from river bottom to bank. A little gets flushed downstream, but less than you would think and a lot less than with steady state flows. The high flows are triggered by sediment inflow, mostly from the Paria since Marble Canyon is the most sediment depleted.
Total water deliveries from Powell to Mead are scheduled to meet the 8.23 maf / year minimum averaged over 10 years as required by compact regardless of short term peaks. It's in the upper basin's interest to hold water back, not a BuRec decision about evaporation / seepage loss. The states did agree to reservoir balancing releases if conditions warrant, but those decisions are separate from the high flow releases.
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Old 10-25-2018   #4
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Flagstaff, Arizona
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GCPBA board member John Vrymoed was on a Grand Canyon river trip during the high flow experiment in November, 2016.

John, a geotechnical engineer, noted his observations and wrote a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation and the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Group. He met with them at their January, 2017, meeting to discuss how a HFE could be improved for private boaters.

He wrote, "Some of the steeply sloped beaches suffered damage due to calving, as seepage had not had enough time to adjust to the receding water level during the ramp down portion of the experiment. As a result, the material that was deposited was lost."

His full report is here: GCPBA RiverNews 2/26/17 – Glen Canyon Dam HFE/Adaptive Management Report | Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association
Join and Support Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association. Visit our website www.gcpba.org.
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Old 10-28-2018   #5
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Western Slope, CO, Colorado
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I just hope the people who are worrying about the Gravel Bars have some influence over the people who have a stake in keeping Lake Mead above rationing levels.
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Old 10-28-2018   #6
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
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Here's the cut to the chase version from John Fleck:

The solution is, in a sense, straightforward. Everyone in the Colorado River Basin has to use less water. It’s possible to apply a simple arithmetic wave of the arm and say, for example, that we could bring the system into balance if everyone used 20 percent less water than they are consuming today. We know from experience, from Yuma to Las Vegas to Albuquerque, that such reductions are possible, that water-using communities are capable of surviving and even thriving with substantially less water than they use today. But no one will voluntarily take such a step without changes in the rules governing basin water use as a whole to ensure that everyone else shares the reductions as well—that any pain is truly shared. We need new rules. Absent that, we simply end up with a tragedy of the commons.

Where do those rules come from?

.....Turns out it’s hard to write new rules.
Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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