City calls in help to boost Yampa River flow
Steamboat Springs — The Yampa River through Steamboat Springs should begin flowing faster in the coming days, and the local fish and aquatic habitat should be better off, thanks to additional daily water releases from Stagecoach Reservoir.
The city ordered the release of water after the river’s flow began dipping below 80 cubic feet per second earlier this week.
In announcing the water releases, the city noted that below-average summer rainfall has kept the flows slower this summer.
At this time last year, the river never dipped below 110 cfs.
It was running at 84 cfs Thursday afternoon near the Fifth Street Bridge.
Jarrett Duty, who owns Bucking Rainbow outfitters, praised the water release and said it will benefit both the river and river users.
“When it’s at 60-85 cfs, everything struggles,” he said. “The water is hotter, and there’s less oxygen.”
Checking the river gauges downstream from Stagecoach, Duty noticed an uptick in recent days.
City officials said earlier this week the plan is to release the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District’s 552-acre feet of water from Stagecoach at a rate of 10 cfs per day for 27 days.
The releases started Aug. 19, according to a news release from the city.
The river’s low flow arouses a number of concerns, including a higher impact from the outflow of the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
“This water will be protected by the Colorado Division of Water Resources office from Stagecoach Reservoir to the city’s wastewater treatment facility outfall, where stream flow and cooler temperatures help the river to better assimilate wastewater discharge,” city water resources manager Kelly Heaney wrote as she announced the water releases.
She also noted river users should be mindful that they have a greater impact on the river when it is running this low.
It is best to avoid river recreation when stream flows are low and water temperatures are high,” Heaney wrote.
Duty said Bucking Rainbow has not been renting tubes in recent days due to the low flow.
The Yampa River Management Plan recommends tubing stop on the river when its flow falls below 85 cfs.
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