CANON CITY – The Arkansas River through Canon City, Colorado is on the rise sooner than normal and there is a buzz among locals. “I actually get phone calls from friends, family, people I know here in town, going, river seems high for this time of year, said Raft Maters, Partner, Will Colon, “It is high for this time of year.” It is good for Colon’s rafting business, “”We started rafting last week,” but the river’s rise is about more than recreation.
Water supply managers are releasing water from reservoirs up river. There is so much snowpack this year they want to make room in reservoirs for when the spring melt starts. Sending a medium flow early, also prevents heavy damaging water flow during the months when the run-off is heaviest. Too much water in the river in April and May can kill-off young fish that are hatched around that time.
Water managers also have to be careful to not release too much water. There are minimum level requirements they have to maintain to the last weeks of August. “Right now, this is the make or break time,” said Colon, “Let’s watch the snow, watch how much we have, how fast it’s melting and make a little bit of room in the reservoirs now and then we’ll fill it up later and try to control the peaks and flows.”