Eastern Colorado Area Office
11056 W. County Rd 18E
What's New at ECAO
The Area Office is getting ready for spring run-off, that time of year when mountain snow melts and comes down rivers and streams. We capture run-off in our reservoirs for use throughout the year. Typically, run-off in Colorado happens in late May or early June. April is typically Colorado's second biggest month for precipitation (March is first). As a result, we do not usually have a run-off forecast until early May.
Water operations across both the Colorado-Big Thompson and Fryingpan-Arkansas Projects are typical for this time of year. Currently, C-BT water is being delivered to Carter Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir. Fry-Ark water is moving down the Arkansas River to Pueblo Reservoir.
On the C-BT, Pinewood Reservoir water levels continue to fluctuate with power generation at the Flatiron Power Plant. Releases from Green Mountain Reservoir to the Lower Blue River in Summit County are now around 550 cubic-feet-per-second. To receive regular information updates on Green Mountain Reservoir, please follow it on Facebook.
On the Fry-Ark Project, Twin Lakes and Turquoise reservoirs have also entered winter operations. We are currently releasing about 130 cfs from Twin Lakes Dam to Lake Creek. During spring run-off, operational updates for both reservoirs are available via Reclamation's Pueblo Facebook page.
Post Flood, Pre-Run-off
When the flooding began in September 2013, the Colorado Division of Water Resources declared "free river conditions." What that meant for our operations of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project is that we could capture and store, if we had space available, water native to the Big Thompson River.
However, during the flooding on September 12, we saw space in the C-BT Project fill with local rain water run-off and were unable to maintain the full diversion of 550 cfs from Lake Estes into the rest of the Project. Basically, the conveyance system, the canals and tunnels of the C- BT, were overwhelmed with local rain run-off. Free river conditions have continued and in the weeks and months following the flood, as space came available in the C-BT, we have been able to capture some of the rain run-off from those storms. In fact, it is fair to say we are still capturing rain run-off as it drains from the soils and hillsides around the east slope of the Project.
That is why, even though the Big Thompson River above Lake Estes and the Town of Estes Park is currently running at about 40 cfs, we are only passing roughly 25 cfs through Olympus Dam on down the Canyon. In a more typical year, the Big Thompson River would see a native flow of about 25 cfs. But, this is not a typical year.
We at the ECAO sympathize with our community regarding the impacts from the Colorado Floods--quite a few of us were also personally affected. So, we understand why many still have questions about the C-BT. In order to better answer those questions and share information, we have established a new Facebook page for Lake Estes and Olympus Dam. For those who do not use Facebook, we also have a direct e-mail notification list through which we provide courtesy updates. To be added to the list, please contact Kara Lamb.
We are ready for run-off at Lake Estes and Olympus Dam. We have a trash rake at the dam that effectively removes debris in the reservoir. Fish Creek, which enters the reservoir from the south, has a large sand bar in its delta, deposited there by the flood. Reclamation does not anticipate any impacts from this sand bar to our operations of Lake Estes. Please keep in mind that the C-BT project, Olympus Dam, and Lake Estes are not authorized nor designed for flood control.
If you are interested in receiving information on these reservoirs directly to your inbox via e-mail, please contact Kara Lamb, ECAO's Public Information Officer.
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Eastern Colorado Area Office, Upcoming Events & Current News
Last Updated: April 2, 2014