Denver Water, in conjunction with the whitewater recreation community and mountainbuzz.com, is planning a weekend kayaking event on the North Fork of the South Platte River Aug. 14–15. We are expecting good kayaking flows during that weekend, barring any unforeseen weather or water rights limitations that may occur.
These kayaking flows are being planned in accordance with the South Platte Protection Plan, which was developed by water providers, environmental groups, recreation groups, governmental organizations, local landowners and many other interest groups as an alternative to Wild and Scenic river designation. Included among the organizations that created the plan are Trout Unlimited, the Sierra Club, American Whitewater, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Denver Water and the U.S. Forest Service. One of the goals of the plan is to enhance whitewater recreation flows on the North Fork when possible. Denver Water considers the needs of whitewater enthusiasts when making operational decisions in its water system and at the Roberts Tunnel. Denver Water’s management of its water system has resulted in many high-quality kayaking days on the North Fork over the past several years, but this is the first time we are planning a weekend event.
The Roberts Tunnel delivers water from Dillon Reservoir on the Western Slope to the North Fork of the South Platte on the Eastern Slope. There are many things to consider in managing tunnel operations. For example, Denver Water does not take water from the Western Slope unless it is needed to meet water demands in the city. Rain events that reduce water demands or lack of sufficient storage space on the Eastern Slope cause reductions in flow through the Roberts Tunnel.
We have chosen the weekend of August 14–15 because historically Denver Water has been able to deliver higher flows from the tunnel during August. Denver Water anticipates providing tunnel flows of approximately 300 cfs which, when combined with the natural flow in the North Fork, should produce very good kayaking conditions. However, rain or water rights issues beyond Denver Water’s control may cause those flows to be less. Stay tuned, and we will let you know how conditions look for the event during the week of Aug. 8.
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