Fast Flows Mean Dangers, Environmental Benefits
The Roaring Fork River is expected to reach peak flow this week. It could mean flooding and dangerous conditions, but it also provides environmental benefits.
The large snowpack in high elevations is finally melting and filling local reservoirs and rivers. Storage space in Twin Lakes Reservoir will reach capacity by July 4, so water that is now being diverted there will instead flow down the Roaring Fork.
April Long, clean river program manager for the City of Aspen, said peak flows will be fast, around 1,400 cubic feet per second by Friday. That will likely mean some flooding of low-lying areas. The river has already topped its banks east of Aspen near Northstar Nature Preserve, which will benefit the ecosystem. The wetland acts like a sponge, soaking up water now to release it later in the year.
More natural runoff also flushes out sediment and provides nourishment to plants and animals in the riparian zones along the banks. But officials warn that fast moving, cold water is hazardous and people should take extra care along river banks.