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State of the rivers reported for the Gunnison Basin

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Water managers for the Gunnison Basin are saying that with predicted inflows to Blue Mesa of 525,000 to 580,000 acre feet, this year's water yield is classified as an "average dry" year.

Information on the current state of the Gunnison Basin water supplies was provided by state and federal officials at the annual Gunnison Basin State of the River report in Montrose on Monday.

With adequate inflows to Blue Mesa, neither it nor Morrow Point are expected to spill this year, said Erik Knight, hydrologist for the Bureau of Reclamation.

Knight reported that a projected peak 10-day flow on the Lower Gunnison River of 8,070 cubic feet per second actually reached 8,500 cfs during mid May. The peak flow day on the Lower Gunnison was 9,900 cfs on May 17.

While it looks likely that Paonia Reservoir may fill to almost full, runoff in the North Fork of the Gunnison River will be affected by some meager snowpack readings, he said.

Division 4 Water Engineer Bob Hurford noted that the cool spring this year has produced a slow and steady runoff supply. Warm weather is now providing increased runoff as the high country snowpack in the basin begins to melt.

Another report given at the meeting indicates that Ridgway Reservoir is "filling quickly at the moment." Weather patterns will affect that process. The goal at this point is to not spill Ridgway.

There was a report on the "use it or lose it" doctrine in water law and the great amount of misunderstanding that surrounds it (see related story on page C5), and discussion of the recently completed Colorado Water Plan and how funding its $20 billion in total proposed water projects might be accomplished.

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Gunnison Basin, Rivers, water
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