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Fryingpan River flows increasing

Contact: Blair Weyer, Public Information Officer, Pitkin County Incident Management Team or 970-315-2478

June 18, 2015 - On Thursday, June 18, the Basalt Police Department learned that flows into the Fryingpan River from Ruedi Reservoir (USGS gage #09080400) will reach 750 cfs (cubic feet per second) by 5 p.m. today, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott requested assistance from the Pitkin County Incident Management Team (PCIMT) and Eagle County Sheriff’s Office around 10:30am today due to the multi-jurisdictional nature of this situation. Geographically speaking Pitkin County, Eagle County and the Town of Basalt could all be impacted by increased flows to the Fryingpan. Currently, the PCIMT is functioning primarily in a preparation, monitoring and public outreach capacity

As of this afternoon, Ruedi Reservoir is 3,500 acre-feet from total capacity. Current average daily inflow to the reservoir is over 1,000 cfs. It is possible that the reservoir could reach capacity by Monday morning based on Bureau of Reclamation’s models.

Water from Ruedi can typically be diverted to the Front Range if it nears capacity, but many reservoirs are already at or near capacity due to heightened temperatures and recent precipitation. This has necessitated the need to increase flows into the Fryingpan.

“Bureau of Reclamation facilities and dams are safe and performing well,” said Eastern Colorado Area Manager, Jaci Gould. “During spring runoff we will continue providing updates on changes in releases from Ruedi Dam,” said Gould.

“We are concerned that some low-lying areas along the Fryingpan and confluence with the Roaring Fork are at risk for flooding,” said Chief Knott. “Our number one priority is getting the word out to community members so they can take the necessary steps to protect their homes and have safety plans in place.” he said.

The areas of greatest concern in Basalt are homes along River Cove, Swinging Bridge Lane, River Oaks Lane, and homes in the Roaring Fork Mobile Home Park.  Officials are also concerned about the area immediately surrounding the Basalt Avenue (7 Eleven) pedestrian bridge. “This area is a popular area for local children to play during the summer, especially when temperatures are expected to be above 80 degrees this weekend.” said Knott. Currently, dangerous swift water conditions exist and parents/caretakers are urged to keep children away from the rivers.

People are cautioned to stay at least 25 feet away from river banks as terrain may become unstable due to increased water flow. “What was once a sturdy river bank has the potential to get washed out quickly in these types of conditions,” warns Knott.

The Pitkin County Incident Management Team continues to monitor water flow gages along the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers. They have also alerted all fly fishing and rafting companies Roaring Fork and Eagle River Valleys. Fly fishermen and women in the Fryingpan were notified in person of increasing water flow by local law enforcement officers. Personnel will also begin door to door outreach in high risk areas in and around Basalt to alert residents.

Conditions along the upper Roaring Fork River have stabilized since the most recent rain event. Water flows at Stillwater Reservoir (USGS gage 09073400) were measured at 1,220 cfs as of Thursday afternoon.

Stay tuned to developments by listening to NOAA weather radio, your local radio stations and by visiting Emergency alerts will be sent to the public via Pitkin Alert. Citizens who have not already signed up for this free service are encouraged to do so at The Bureau of Reclamation will also be posting updates regarding Ruedi Reservoir on its Facebook and Twitter pages.
Please direct all media questions to Blair Weyer, Public Information Officer, at 970-315-2478.