FRISCO, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s going to be a long summer watching the water for businesses that depend on healthy river flows in Colorado. A lack of snow over the winter will mean lower than normal river levels.
Right now the snowpack for the Colorado River basin is just 14 percent of average. Some businesses are saying that could be a good thing, but not scientists.
On the 10 Mile Creek, which runs from Copper Mountain through Frisco into Dillon Reservoir, hydrologists say it’s at a level that’s normally seen deeper into the summer. But at the headwaters, some who use the river for business aren’t too concerned.
“Everything starts here. We’re at the headwaters of the Colorado River; seven states and Mexico are downstream from us; 30 million people depend on the Colorado River water,” water commissioner Troy Wineland said.
The concern this year starts at the highest points — the tributaries to the Colorado River — like the three creeks that fill Dillon Reservoir, the rest of the spring and summer is really a question.
“In the absence of any significant moisture this summer, I think we all can anticipate and expect that stream flows are going to drop considerably lower,” Wineland said.
The good news is, that’s been expected since March and reservoirs, like Dillon, have been kept full in anticipation. By law, the reservoir has to release water, and that has many believing the Colorado River, farther down state, will be in good shape.
“We’re not going to get those high flows like last year, but we’ll get flows consistent and they’ll be run-able, pretty much for the whole summer,” Matti Wade with Ten Mile Creek Kayaks said.
Wade says he started teaching lessons at his kayak shop earlier than ever before. Local rafting guides say they’re expecting more clients this year after last year’s dangerously high water flows.
“They are going to be moving some water, as people downstream are always going to need it; and that just benefits the rafting industry because we get to float on it as they move it down,” Christian Campton with Kodi Rafting said.
The concern is if the flow of the Colorado River is already two to three months ahead of schedule and dries up later in the summer, there’s really not going to be any water to refill many high country reservoirs.
There are a series of meetings this week to talk about the river. There was one scheduled for Tuesday night in Frisco, Wednesday in Grand County, and Thursday in the Roaring Fork Valley.