Flows From Flaming Gorge Dam to Increase Temporarily To Benefit

Media Contact: Doug Hendrix, 801-524-3837

For Release: May 07, 2004

Beginning at 10:00 p.m., MST, on Saturday, May 8, 2004, Reclamation will increase flows from an average of more than 800 cubic-feet-second (cfs) to a maximum powerplant capacity of 4,400 cfs for a full two-day period. Each year Reclamation times the increased flows from the powerplant into the Green River to match the spring runoff peak of the Yampa River as a means to aid in the recovery of endangered fish of the Green River.

Current projections are for the Yampa River to peak at about 7,000 cfs during the second week of May. Based on runoff projections, it appears that this peak will be the largest to occur this season.

There are critical spawning beds in the Green River downstream of the confluence of the Green River and the Yampa River. At the present time, the endangered fish are starting to spawn. By timing the high powerplant releases to match the runoff peak of the Yampa River, two critical needs will be met. First, the combined high flows of the two rivers will ensure that sediment which washes downstream will not be re-deposited on the spawning bars and secondly, the high flows will carry the larval razorback suckers into flooded lowlands which are historic critical nursery habitat for the fish.

The flow-enhanced drift of the larval fish mimics the natural pre-dam conditions that are conducive to the razorback sucker’s lifecycle. The low lying areas are nutrient rich, safe areas for the fish to develop before returning to the main river channel.

Concerns of landowners, especially at Jensen, Utah, have been considered. With peak flows of the Yampa River projected near 7,000 cfs next week, flows of the Green River measured at Jensen may exceed 11,000 cfs beginning Wednesday, May 12, 2004. However, the combined flows of the Green and Yampa Rivers will remain below peak flows of the past decade.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has been consulted concerning the impacts of the releases to the rainbow trout fishery below the dam. While the flows will make fishing the river more difficult, no adverse impacts to the fishery are expected.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.