From The Mountain Mail (Casey Kelly):
Arkansas River boaters can expect to see flows bolstered this summer by 10,000 acre-feet of water from the Voluntary Flow Management Program. Roy Vaughan, facility manager for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Pueblo Field Office, confirmed Monday that water will be available for the Voluntary Flow Management Program. “We’ll supply 10,000 acre-feet for rafting and the fishery,” Vaughan said.
The program will supply enough water to keep flows at the Wellsville station at 700 cubic feet per second from July 1 through Aug. 15 this year, according to Vaughan.
He said the bureau’s April 1 forecast called for bringing more than 24,700 acre-feet of water over from the Western Slope. Its May 1 forecast called for 47,230 acre-feet. “That’s almost double what we were forecasting,” Vaughan said. He said recent moisture “changed the outlook for us.”
Rob White, Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area park manager, told a May 7 Salida City Council work session that outfitters were worried about another low water season and had been told a few months ago that water may not be available this summer for the Voluntary Flow Management Program. “Luckily we were saved by the late-season storms in both March and April,” White said. “As a matter of fact, I got a call from the Bureau of Reclamation (May 6), and they believe they’ll be able to deliver the full 10,000 acre-feet of water for us for the summer flow program.”
Rafting outfitter Mark Hammer, owner of The Adventure Company in Johnson Village, said he does about 75 percent of his summer business during the 6 weeks that augmentation flows will be available. “(The Voluntary Flow Management Program) is extremely helpful,” Hammer said. “The bell curve of river flows doesn’t necessarily coincide with our peak tourism, so this ensures we have enough water in the Arkansas during the later period of our season.”
He said a more average water flow season this year will help outfitters predict when river flows will peak, how high they will be and how long they will last. “We certainly appreciate the collaborative effort of the flow program,” Hammer said. “It’s a benefit to the public, outfitting companies and the whole area’s economy which relies on the river.”
Greg Felt, co-owner of ArkAnglers, said this year is shaping up to be a good year for the fishery. “We’ve been able to see some good hatches and good aquatic insect activity,” Felt said. “Looking ahead, it’s great to see snowpack improve as it has.”
Kara Lamb, Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman, said, “What makes this program possible is the cooperation, understanding and willingness of those involved to work together. Their cooperation helps the diverse groups reach the mutual goals of the water owners, operators and users, municipalities and government agencies. The Flow Program has created a model for all rivers in the West, and one Coloradans can be proud of.”
More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.