Still in the flood pool, irrigation ends and releases to climb to 4,500cfs

The Bighorn Canal is ending its irrigation season, and the current canal releases will be diverted to the river. In addition, because inflows have stayed up, additional releases will have to take place in order to draft the reservoir and finally get out of the exclusive flood pool.

Starting Thursday at 3pm, releases will increase from 3,900cfs to 4,500cfs.

Here are a couple of important notes to consider this week:

Algae and aquatic vegetation is currently displacing enough water to raise the stage of the river nearly a foot and a quarter in some section of the river.

The turbidity seen in the river is coming from Bighorn Lake, which has been verified by Reclamation personnel.

The work on the Afterbay lake should be completed this week and the Afterbay lake refilled immediately after work is completed.

Lastly, WAPA has requested a decrease in power generation, which will require some water to be released from the dam from an outlet OTHER THAN the turbines. This may (or may not) result in somewhat less turbid water coming from the dam. IMPORTANT: To help with future algae issues, PLEASE let us know what changes you see on the river starting Thursday and through the weekend. That information may be useful down the road in reducing the headaches of future algae problems.

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Unusually high inflows require additional releases

Unusually high inflows continue to fill the reservoir, so additional releases will be required to evacuate storage.

Starting today at 4pm Reclamation will increase releases from 3,050cfs to 3,300cfs, and,
tomorrow at 4pm another 200cfs to 3,500cfs.

When you have time, PLEASE continue to email me brief river condition reports whether they be good or bad. I discovered today there may be a striking difference between what anglers and guides are experiencing and what water managers are hearing.


A return to micro-managing water

Reclamation just released an water order change indicating once again the need to evacuate storage out of the exclusive flood pool.

On Tuesday, September 2nd at 4pm, river releases will increase from 3,050cfs to 3,300cfs.

Maybe my perspective is a bit shaded after 8 years of this, but with inflows at or above 4,000cfs, river releases at 3,300cfs and the canal at 275cfs, it seems Reclamation is not managing water in acre feet, but in drops and buckets.

These small bumps just drag in the dead debris from the last surge, making the river and banks stink, the fishing lousy and the river experience a real nightmare for both commercial and public interests alike. To paraphrase Rep Elaine Harvey, we haven’t had a river for four weeks!

What the heck is driving this incredibly conservative water management? Is there an unwritten policy at MTAO that all forecasts are considered drought unless proven otherwise? What exactly will it take for us to achieve some semblance of balance with other water interests?

Sorry for the rant. Hang in there, folks. We’ll sort this out in the fall meetings.

Releases to bounce yet again!

Recent precipitation has caused inflows into Bighorn Lake to increase and cause the lake to fill in to the exclusive flood pool. Therefore, it is necessary for Reclamation to once again raise river releases to evacuate storage.

This is the second time this year releases have been increased because of what FOBR believes is a an overly conservative water management policy. Rest assured, this policy will be a primary topic of discussion with Reclamation this fall.

Starting today at 4pm, releases will increase form 2,625cfs to 3,000cfs.

Flows to be restored by morning

Following today’s recovery efforts near Two Leggins, river releases will be increased in two stages:

Starting this evening at 8pm, release will be increased from 1,500cfs to 2,125cfs.

Tomorrow morning at 8am, releases will increase from 2,125cfs to 2,625 cfs.

The morning increase was requested by WAPA, and Reclamation had desired to accommodate our wishes to increase from 1,500cfs to ~2,600cfs

Flows dropped to search for drowning victim

In response to a request from the BIA, river releases to the Bighorn River were reduced today to aid in the search of a potential drowning victim near the Two Leggins diversion. Flows were set at 1,500cfs, the minimum to sustain the fishery, and will continue at that level for the remainder of the day or until the victim is found. No further details were made available.

Bighorn River releases to drop to minimums

After a spring that saw records set for snowpack, inflows and river releases, Reclamation will be reducing river releases to minimums by Wednesday. Many of us continue to scratch our heads wondering exactly what it will take to get flows above 2,500cfs as was done successfully in the past.

While we applaud Reclamation’s efforts this spring to avoid river releases over 10,000cfs, it is clear that the existing operating criteria, including the rule curves, need work, and risk needs to be better balanced. FOBR will work closely with FWP and Reclamation to make sure this gets the much needed attention it deserves. Further, we will implore Reclamation to balance reaction times to inflows forecasts (i.e. reacting instantly to dry forecasts and reacting slowly to wet forecasts).

Enjoy the warm weather and cross your fingers we get enough fall precip to maintain 2,500cfs through the winter.

Starting today at noon, releases will drop from ~3,000cfs to 2,750cfs.

At 4pm today, releases will increase 100cfs to 2,850cfs.

On Tuesday at 4pm, releases will decrease from 2,850cfs to 2,725cfs

And finally on Wednesday, at 8am, releases will drop to 2,500cfs, the minimum flow to maintain the fishery.