This year’s runoff in Southern Colorado could be short-lived because of the very low snowpack over the winter. There were a few spring storms that helped counter some of the shortage, but still not enough to get even close to what is considered normal. The water is important to communities, agriculture and recreation.
One of the key flows is the Arkansas River. This week’s heat is increasing the run-off and pushing the river higher.
Tracking the waterfowl happens daily for rafting companies. Before crowds of tourists dominate their attention in just a couple of weeks, there is a tip for locals. "We’re having exceptional water right now. This is a good medium flow. Fun, big waves, big hits," said Raft Masters, Owner, Will Colon.
On Thursday, at the Parkdale measuring location, water peaked at around 17 thousand cubic feet per second (CFS). Just before noon it was closer to 1640 CFS. “Basically a cubic foot is the size of a basketball. So if you can imagine 1640 basketballs passing an imaginary line in the river at one time, that’s how fast the river’s flowing" said Colon
The current flow is a lot of water, and it will get higher over the next couple of weeks. Only the peak could end earlier, and will likely be much lower than years past. From May to June in both 2016 and 2017 it topped 4 thousand CFS. That is more than double what is in the river right now.
Those years more was not better. Rafting companies had to reroute trips. "There is such thing as too much water."
Will this years snowpack cause too little water in the river? Thanks to reservoirs upstream, that will not happen. "The good news is the reservoirs are on the fuller side,” said Colon. It rations, regulates and maintains a water supply downstream.