Aspinall Unit Reservoirs

Blue Mesa Reservoir

Current Status

Last Updated: May 9, 2024

* * * * * U P D A T E -- May 11, 2024 * * * * * *
Use caution when recreating in or around the Gunnison River below Crystal Dam from May 14 through the month of May (pending hydrology). Water will be colder than usual and will run high and swift. These conditions can quickly overcome even the strongest swimmer. Reclamation will perform spring release that will include full powerplant releases (~1,900 cfs), bypass releases (+2,000 cfs), plus additional releases from spill. For the total CFS average daily release, see the table below.

Under this forecast, operation of Aspinall under the Aspinall Record of Decision (2012) would require a spring peak release to provide 10 days of sustained flows in the Gunnison River in the Whitewater reach at or above 8,070 cfs. This forecast would also require Aspinall releases to provide a single day peak flow in the Black Canyon of 4,492 cfs per the Black Canyon Reserved Water Right Decree.

Forecasted (tentative) hourly release schedules can be found by visiting the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center at this website: Gunnison below Tunnel. This data is considered the most likely scenario given the current forecast, is general, and is subject to changing conditions. Down ramping is anticipated to occur later in May.

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Crystal Dam Releases and Estimated Black Canyon Flows -- Sent May 11, 2024
Date Average Daily
Release
Crystal Dam
(cfs)
Approx Gunnison
River below
Tunnel
(cfs)
5/14/2024 2,025 975
5/15/2024 2,500 1,450
5/16/2024 3,000 1,900
5/17/2024 3,500 2,400
5/18/2024 4,000 3,000
5/19/2024 4,650 3,600
5/20/2024 5,550 4,500
5/21/2024 6,700 5,600
5/22/2024 7,100 6,050

NOTE: The hourly release schedule above is an approximation of releases and flows. All data is provisional and is subject to change. The table was created on 5/11/2024.

Reclamation plans to initiate the ramp down portion of the spring release later in the month of May 2024. A detailed ramp down release schedule will be released in a subsequent notification. All dates and releases are provisional and subject to change.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Aspinall Unit Reservoirs – As of May 8, 2024 (end of day), releases from Crystal Dam are approximately 1,650 cfs. Flows of the Gunnison River in the Black Canyon are being maintained at about 600 cfs while the Gunnison Tunnel is diverting about 1050 cfs. Flows in the Whitewater Reach of the Gunnison River are about 1,960 cfs.

The unregulated inflow volume in March to Blue Mesa was 82,400 af (105 percent of average). Unregulated Inflow volumes forecasted for Blue Mesa for the next three months (May, June, and July) are projected to be: 193,000 af (96 percent of average), 225,000 af (90 percent of average), and 70,000 af (65 percent of average), respectively.

The forecasted 2024 water year unregulated inflow volume to Blue Mesa is projected to be 812,000 af (90 percent of average). The water supply period (April-July) for 2024 is forecasted currently for an unregulated inflow volume of to be 570,000 af of unregulated inflow (90 percent of average).

Under this forecast, operation of Aspinall under the Aspinall Record of Decision (2012) would require a spring peak release to provide 10 days of sustained flows in the Gunnison River in the Whitewater reach at or above 8,070 cfs. This forecast would also require Aspinall releases to provide a single day peak flow in the Black Canyon of 4,492 cfs per the Black Canyon Reserved Water Right Decree. Given this current projection of the most probable operating scenario, Blue Mesa is projected to fill to approximately 7,510 feet by late June - early July with approximately 743,000 af of storage. This is approximately 9 feet from full pool elevation (7519.4 feet) with approximately 85,000 af of unfilled storage space in Blue Mesa Reservoir.

The Aspinall Unit Operations Group is an open public forum for information exchange between Reclamation and the stakeholders of the Aspinall Unit. The public is encouraged to attend and comments on the operations and plans presented by Reclamation at these meetings. Meeting notes from past working Group meetings are posted on the Operations Group webpage. For more information on this group and these meetings please contact Erik Knight in the Grand Junction Area Office at (970) 248-0629.

The next Operations Group meeting will be held on April 18, 2024 at 1:00 p.m., in Grand Junction, Colorado. This will be an in-person meeting with an option for remote participation. Contact Erik Knight in the Grand Junction Area Office at (970) 248-0629 to get more information regarding this Operation Group meeting.

 Update 5/9/2024 - Nathaniel Todea

To view the most current reservoir elevation, content, inflow and release, click on: Blue Mesa Reservoir Data or Crystal Reservoir Data.


Contact

Please contact the Operations Group via e-mail at ResourceMgr@usbr.gov for additional information.

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Last Updated: 4/10/24