Low flows in Arkansas River affecting Pueblo recreation, revenue

Posted at 9:39 PM, Jun 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-25 23:39:26-04

The lack of snow and rain this year is creating a serious situation in the Arkansas River Valley. 

Low water levels in that river are affecting business and recreation in the Home of Heroes. 

The Colorado Division of Water Resources says the levels this year are abnormal and putting the area in almost a drought situation. The conditions are making it difficult for water lovers to do their activities in Pueblo, particularly at the Whitewater Park. In turn, revenue is down at some businesses.

The park is usually a summertime hot spot that draws people from all over Colorado. 

Bob Walker, owner of The Edge Ski Paddle & Pack said, "You might see…30 guys down there surfing, boogie boarding…a handful of kayakers too."

However, this summer, Walker describes the park as "a wasteland. It’s abandoned right now."

It all stems from the dry conditions the state has been experiencing this year. 

Philip Reynolds, reservoir operations specialist for the Colorado Division of Water Resources, said, "It would probably rank in one of the ten worst snow melt seasons for the Arkansas River."

He says during a normal year at the park the rate of flow in the river is well over 1,000 cubic feet per second. Current conditions are only 600-800. 

For water enthusiasts like Walker it’s a tough thing to swallow, but even more so because he’s a business owner. 

"We do boogie boards, surf boards, paddle boards…it hurts…we don’t have the flow of people coming in that are buying shorts, that are buying wetsuits…just any kind of river gear."

He’s not the only one feeling the effects. 

"If it’s good people are staying over at hotels, people are running in and out of here trying to get information, trying to pick up new boards…so it’s definitely a shock for all of Union Avenue especially."

Surfers and kayakers are going to places like Florence where conditions are better. Reynolds says flows will increase part-time in July and August as part of the Voluntary Flow Management Program. Extra water will be released from the Clear Creek Reservoir to help out water enthusiasts.