Roaring Fork Watershed continues to lose water, despite monsoons

High water temperatures and low oxygen put Colorado fishing at risk
The Colorado River at Las Colonias Park in Grand Junction, Colorado. The Colorado River is fed...
The Colorado River at Las Colonias Park in Grand Junction, Colorado. The Colorado River is fed by the Roaring Fork Watershed.(KKCO / KJCT)
Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 2:15 PM MDT
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BASALT, Colo. (KKCO) - Despite monsoon season kicking off in Colorado, the Roaring Fork Conservancy reports that rivers and streams across the Roaring Fork Watershed continue to shrink. The Conservancy reports that waterways in the area are flowing anywhere between 42 and 65 percent of normal for this time of year.

Lower stream flows are more easily impacted by high air temperatures, which are plentiful in Colorado this year. In the last week, the Conservancy noted water temperatures of 68 degrees in the Glenwood Springs-adjacent section of the Roaring Fork and 72 degrees in the Dotsero section of the Colorado River. Warm water holds less dissolved oxygen, and water temperatures at or above 60 degrees can hurt aquatic organisms that call the watershed home.

Due to these conditions, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has instituted voluntary fishing closures for the Colorado and Eagle Rivers starting Friday, July 15. The Conservancy states that anglers should fish in the cooler morning hours or at higher elevations. More information on which rivers are closed and when can be found here.

The Roaring Fork Watershed is a critical component of the Colorado River Basin, contributing about 279 billion gallons of water each year to the Colorado River, which supplies water to nearly 40 million people.

Located in central Colorado on the west side of the Continental Divide, the watershed includes the Sawatch, Collegiate, and Elk ranges, and seven 14,000 foot peaks. Snowmelt from these high peaks contribute to the watershed by entering one of three main rivers— Roaring Fork, Fryingpan, and Crystal.

Much of this water drains to the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs. Curious folks who want to read more about the watershed can visit the Roaring Fork Conservancy website.

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