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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
Like many kayakers, I've often dreamed of a planned recreational release on the North Fork of the South Platte. That dream has now become a reality!

I'm happy to announce that Denver Water has approved a proposal to do a planned whitewater recreational release on the North Fork of the South Platte River. The release will be Saturday and Sunday, August 14th and 15th. The large shelter at the Pine Valley Open Space Park at the Bailey takeout has been reserved for a good ole fashioned takeout party on Saturday afternoon (free food and beer), and a paddler pot luck (bring your own party) on Sunday afternoon.

Exact flows can not be specified now as they are constrained by weather and water demand that specific weekend. Based on historical flows and water demand, Denver Water thinks that they can deliver 300 cfs through Roberts Tunnel which would mean about 330-350 cfs at the Bailey gauge.

The intent of the event is to provide a planned release when natural runoff is done so that kayakers can enjoy a great weekend of paddling on a classic stretch of river. The North Fork South Platte is an excellent location for a recreational release as it is home to the Bailey run (IV/V classic) and the Foxton run (III/IV) and offers a variety of paddling within easy traveling distance for a large portion of the Colorado paddling community.

While Denver water has agreed to plan and schedule the event, they must have a demand for the water in order to move it through the tunnel. This means that a large rainstorm, while rare, could potentially cause the release to be canceled. Denver Water has agreed to give us an update the week before the event to give a better idea of what flows should be. I think we will have a final thumbs up before paddlers hit the road.

I'd like to offer an open invitation to all paddlers to come out to the North Fork of the South Platte and enjoy this recreational release. While recreational releases are common in the Southeast, California and many parts of the country, they are virtually non-existent in Colorado due to the complications of water laws, water rights, and a tight water supply. I'd love to see a big turnout for this event to demonstrate how much this type of event means to the paddling community. If the event goes off well, it could be the first stepping stone to making a North Fork South Platte release an annual event, and could also potentially help open the door for releases on other rivers in Colorado.

I'll post more details about the event as things it gets closer. I'd like to encourage both Bailey and Foxton paddlers to come to the Takeout Party at the Pine Valley Ranch Open Space Park on Saturday afternoon. If you plan on coming to the party, it would be great it you could post here with a headcount / RSVP, PM me, or let me know when you see me. I'd like to get a general idea of the headcount so that I can plan for how much food and beer to bring. Saturday we will have food and beer free for all.

Finally, I'd like to give a sincere thanks to Dave Bennet from Denver Water who was instrumental in making this happen.

If you have any questions or comments about the event, please feel free to contact me via PM on the buzz.

[ADMIN NOTE - PRESS RELEASE REMOVED AT IAN'S REQUEST PENDING REVISED DENVER WATER VERSION]
 

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Yeah buddy! Nice work! Bummed I can't make it, but had a great run at 500+ on Monday with members of the Mank Crew.

One thing to consider would be talking with landowners at the putin to create a parking strategy. They've been very cool in the past, but a lot of boaters on a specific day could create problems.

Super jealous, sounds like an awesome time!
Joe
 

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One thing to consider would be talking with landowners at the putin to create a parking strategy. They've been very cool in the past, but a lot of boaters on a specific day could create problems.
Agreed- Definitely consider the parking lot behind the ATF / laundromat about 500 yards upstream. More parking, plus a Port-o-let is usually there. I think it's technically a city park, albeit not much of one. Adds about 2 minutes to the float.

I'm in for BaileyFest 2010.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the support guys! Agree on the parking and put in comments.

Parking and launch strategy are in the works. I'll post details and maps when they are finalized. The preferred option at this point is to launch at McGraw Park that El Flaco mentioned and park shuttle vehicles at the Bailey Business Center across right across the road. The parking / launch plan was worked with the Bailey Chamber of Commerce to try and avoid any parking or logistics issues with the town of Bailey.

I've tried to contact the new owners of the more common put in downstream, but haven't gotten a call back. I'd prefer if paddlers didn't try and put in down there during the event to keep the boater traffic from causing any conflicts there.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I think CW is going to put together a cruise on the foxton section of the NFSP during the event. Check in with CW to see what they are planning if you are interested.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Big thanks to Confluence Kayak Shop and Jackson Kayaks, who are sponsoring the event. The takeout party for you enjoyment will happen thanks to the generosity of these folks.

Also, here is the updated version of the announcement from Denver Water. The PR folks wanted to tweak it a bit more.


Denver Water Announcement
The whitewater recreation community is organizing a weekend kayaking event on the North Fork of the South Platte River Aug. 14–15.
Denver Water’s operation of the Roberts Tunnel — which delivers water from Dillon Reservoir on the Western Slope to the North Fork of the South Platte on the Eastern Slope — affects flows on the South Platte River. While the utility must operate the tunnel solely for water supply purposes, the South Platte Protection Plan gives Denver Water the flexibility to manage the timing of flows to enhance whitewater recreation, when conditions allow. If weather and water rights limitations cooperate, Denver Water will be able to operate its system to allow for great kayaking flows during that weekend.
The South Platte Protection Plan was developed in 2004 by a variety of organizations, including Trout Unlimited, the Sierra Club, American Whitewater, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Denver Water and the U.S. Forest Service. As a result of the plan, these groups have been able to work together to provide many high-quality kayaking days on the North Fork over the past several years.
Denver Water must consider many variables when managing tunnel operations. The utility cannot take water from the Western Slope unless the water is needed to meet demands in the city. Rain or lack of sufficient storage space on the Eastern Slope also mean Denver Water will take less water through the Roberts Tunnel.
Historically, the weekend of Aug. 14–15 has had relatively high flows. Weather or water rights issues beyond Denver Water’s control, however, may cause these flows to be less this year. More information on conditions for the event will be available the week of the event.
 

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Sweet! Going to try to make it.

I have not run Bailey yet but hope to get on it soon. I live up 285 if anyone is going in the next couple of weeks, let me know if you want to show me some lines.

Thanks Ian!
 

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Nice job Ian. Getting a recreational release on the Platte is a great step towards providing a quality off season boating option. I'm looking forward to it. It's great to see Denver Water taking an interest in enhancing whitewater opportunities.
 

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Is the water going to be stored any place (Chatfield or Stronia) or will it all be sent down river? Is there any chance the water would make it to the Union Chutes?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The water for this release won't make it to union chutes. The water that gets put in the north fork south platte goes into strontia, and then into the tubes that bring the water to denver for daily water needs. Strontia really isn't big enough for much storage and its used more as a forebay to buffer fluctuations in flow. Basically all the water that is going down the north fork is getting used by denver water for municipal and agricultural water demand.

Bailey has been flowing great lately. Hope a bunch of folks are getting it while its good.

Looking forward to the release weekend and party. Tell your buddies and rally for a late season party on a colorado classic run. Bailey Fest!
 

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Ian, thanks for the work, the platte canyon chamber of commerce is putting money into a formal putin at the ATF park, by suds laundromat. Park there, or at the coney or at sweet fanny adams(above sweet 15'slide falls) or get shuttled, or hitch n huck, im sure there will be plenty of rides, no room for me though:( Please outdo yourselves as river stewards, and help me tote out all the resident hobo trash, (Yes, some of you internet boaters are hobo trashers too) besides, the bum plastic booze bottles add floatation and karma points with the river gods.(not enough space in kpin=need to drive SUV) Someone lost a deli xpress at supermax, mmm, delicious. Have a great time, but try to if possible uplift ourselves and others to a higher level of stewardship, ethics, enlightenment. I know its difficult, but try to lead by example, it is just as bad to walk by trash as to toss it there yourself. Thanks to the guys that played riverloggers last week, way better than the left skinny sneak I made with my rocksaw. I love it here and paddle whenever the faucet running aligns with my schedule, I will paddle with you if your not a citiot, and you have a cool head, still havent paddled with a single mtn buzzard internet boater, except on accident. Please be all you can be, GO JOE.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Bumping the event reminder, and also wanted to note that rains like we had this week cause denver water to shut down the tunnel. If by chance we get big rains in the south platte basin during the weekend of the release event, it could cause the event to be canceled. Denver Water wants to make sure everyone understands that rain is a potential limitation of scheduling an event and could cause flows to be canceled. If the event does get canceled, Denver Water has agreed to try for a later date, most likely labor day weekend.

Looking forward to some more bailey runs...
 

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ian this is great you get my vote for colorado paddler of the year.

What do you think the chances are that we could arrange future planned releases on either the south platte or the big thompson in the fall. It seems to me, especially with the big thompson, that if they lowered the daily release through the week there would be plenty of water for the weekends. If all the water is going to end up in reservoirs anyway it shouldn't matter if it comes all at once or slowly over the course of a week right.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks Brian!

As for the chances of future planned releases on the south platte or big T in the fall... Thats a tough one. The south platte system typically doesn't deliver enough water into late september / october to get enough water in bailey. It happens every once in a while for a variety of reasons, but its a tough one to schedule. I chose august as the timing for the release proposal because its typically the time of year when water transfers through the tunnel are highest. Denver can't pull the water over if they don't need it, so they can't just crank up the tunnel to 800 cfs for a weekend if they only need 300 to meet demand. If the north fork release this year goes well, it could set us up for an annual event. We'll wait and see what the outcome of this one is.

The big T is complicated. I actually met with Kara Lamb and Andrew, the team lead for water scheduling today to discuss opportunities for big T releases. The major obstacle on the big T is power generation. Water from lake estes is typically run through the olympus tunnel through a couple of hydropower plants to generate electricity, and then dumps into reservoirs on the front range. If you run water from lake estes through the big T river channel, the power generation is lost. Power generation on the colorado big T project generated $90 million dollars of revenue last year, thats an average of $250,000 per day in power revenue (I was amazed at how much this was). A proposal to allow 30-40 guys to go paddling on the big T one saturday in the fall that would cost the bureau of reclamation hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue is pretty much a non starter for the BOR (I asked about it though). I also explored the angle of planned outages and maintenance to the power generation equipment, but they have enough redundancy and capacity in the system that they can typically do the maintenance without having to put water in the river. To them, water in the river is money down the drain. When the big T runs, its either because the power generation system has broken down, like the huge year in 2008, or when the runoff from the big T above lake estes is well above the oylmpus tunnel capacity, like this year when the big T above lake estes was flowing 1500 cfs and the tunnel could only take 550. The olympus tunnel can take 550 cfs, but on average the big T above lake estes doesn't get much above 600 cfs, leaving pretty much no extra water to put in the river. The big T does have minimum streamflow requirements for fish habitat, which is 125 cfs in the summer and lower flows in the shoulder seasons. I'm still trying to figure out the angle that could get us releases on the big T, but after putting a lot of thought into it, and spending some time talking to Kara and the folks that run the big T, I don't see a good angle yet that could get releases in the fall. I'm going to continue working on the Big T though, as I think its a big opportunity.

I've got a few other ideas around recreational in channel diversions, but thats a thorny issue as well.

Also the thought that if all the water ends up in reservoirs it doesn't matter if it gets there all at once or over the course of a week doesn't really hold true. One reason is that there isn't enough storage to do that. The water folks typically bring over the volumes they need on a daily basis, and can't feasibly bring over a lot of extra volume and turn if off later. There are also limitations on flow changes for fish habitat and other operational concerns to worry about. Basically there are lots of boundary conditions on the system that make it tough to get the releases to work.

There are a lot more details, if anyone is interested, I can send you information about the south platte or the big T, PM me if you want.
 

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Who can show up with a van and a trailer to run shuttles? I love the idea of the release but its not exactly a large put in...Im thinking we bring a big truck or van and trailer to shuttle, who wants to be the bunny?
 
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