Releases out of Ruedi Reservoir were increased on Saturday, July 23, by 45 cfs to mitigate the impacts that high temperatures, low flows, and increased recreational pressure have put on the aquatic life of the Fryingpan, Roaring Fork, and Colorado Rivers.
River temperatures in the lower Roaring Fork (measured at the USGS gage Roaring Fork at Glenwood Springs) exceeded 66 degrees Fahrenheit (F) each day this week and exceeded 70 degrees F for several days at the end of the week. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) considers temperatures over 65 degrees F to be of concern for trout and temperatures over 71 degrees F can be lethal for some trout species. High water temperatures decrease available oxygen for aquatic life. Mindi May of CPW states in addition to high temperatures, “… the low flows crowd the fish into deep holes and pools where they fight for limited space and food resources, and the added stress of high temperatures makes them more susceptible to diseases.” Ruedi Water and Power Authority (RWAPA) received several anecdotal reports of dead trout on the lower Roaring Fork on Friday.
Flows are forecasted to decrease in the lower Roaring Fork this week, as forecasted air temperatures remain high. Therefore, the Ruedi Water and Power Authority (RWAPA) worked quickly and in close collaboration with several contract water holders in Ruedi Reservoir to release water for the next week with the goals of reducing water temperatures, increasing wetted habitat, and improving river conditions for trout and aquatic life. Releases from Ruedi Reservoir were increased on Saturday, July 23 by 45 cfs. This amount will continue to be released for the next 7 – 10 days. This water will benefit not only the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers – flows will continue into the Colorado River as well.
Water holders contributing their water to this effort include Town of Basalt, Mid Valley Metro District, Town of Carbondale, City of Glenwood Springs, and the Colorado River District. This effort would not have been possible without the quick and dedicated assistance of the Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado Division of Water Resources, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado River District, and the Roaring Fork Conservancy.
April Long, Executive Director of Ruedi Water and Power Authority stated, “These dry, hot years are getting worse and worse for our rivers and our communities. We must be creative and work together to find solutions that meet all of our growing water challenges. I am impressed and extremely grateful that these organizations recognize the importance of our rivers and are willing to creatively and collaboratively work together to put more water in the rivers. I hope more communities across Colorado will follow their lead.”
RWAPA is a consortium of the local governments in the Roaring Fork valley that work to mobilize resources and influence for the protection and enhancement of the water resources in the Roaring Fork watershed. RWAPA is governed by a Board of Directors with an elected official representative from the City of Aspen, Town of Snowmass Village, Town of Basalt, Town of Carbondale, City of Glenwood Springs, Pitkin County, and Eagle County.
For more information, contact April Long, Executive Director of RWAPA, at 970-901-6082 or firstname.lastname@example.org.