River levels in the Roaring Fork River are expected to significantly increase by midweek next week when water diversions to Twin Lakes Reservoir are halted. According to Twin Lakes Canal Company General Manager Bruce Hughes the reservoir is expected to fill to capacity sometime between next Tuesday and Thursday.
“The 625 CFS that is normally diverted to Twin Lakes will be sent down the Roaring Fork adding to its already peak runoff flow for at least two to three weeks,” Hughes said. This isn’t something we need to do every year but it’s the third year in a row that we’ve had to do it.”
The upper Roaring Fork near Aspen was running at 362 CFS on Thursday morning. When flows reach the vicinity of 1,000 CFS in the upper Roaring Fork next week, some natural flooding on the North Star Nature Preserve east of Aspen is expected.
“We just want recreationalists and property owners along the river to be aware that there will be a dramatic increase in the river level next week when the diversions to Twin Lakes are discontinued,” said Pitkin County Emergency Manager, Valerie MacDonald. “Our Incident Management Team is keeping an eye on the weather and river levels and will alert the public if we anticipate any significant flooding,” MacDonald said.
Downvalley, the Frying Pan River is currently running at approximately 600 cfs where it meets the Roaring Fork in the Town of Basalt. According to officials at the Bureau of Reclamation, releases from Ruedi Reservoir into the Frying Pan will be decreased from 625 CFS to 265 CFS between now and Sunday.
“That’s fortuitous timing for Basalt where the Fryingpan and the Roaring Fork meet,” MacDonald said. “It reduces the chances for flooding at that confluence.”
Ruedi Reservoir is currently 80% full. Additional releases into the Fryingpan this runoff season are not anticipated.
The public is encouraged to sign up for Pitkin Alert at www.pitkinalert.org to receive emergent updates. Roaring Fork Watershed stream flow reports can be found at www.roaringfork.org. Information about flood preparedness can be found at www.pitkinemergency.org. Officials are also asking residents and visitors to take caution around rivers and streams during peak runoff.