Aspen Journalism is compiling a data dashboard highlighting metrics of local public interest, updated weekly.
Upper Roaring Fork River streamflow has increased by 600 cfs since Sunday
The upper Roaring Fork River streamflow was down from last week as of Sunday but gained 600 cfs since June 18. At Stillwater, located upstream of Aspen, the Roaring Fork River ran at 842 cfs on June 21 at 10:30 am., which is 186% of average. On June 18, the river ran at 242 cfs, or 52.8% of average, down from 316 cfs and 79.8% of average on June 11.
Aspen Journalism recently reported that the upper Roaring Fork River would likely see its highest flows of the season beginning this week as the transbasin tunnel that takes water from Roaring Fork headwaters to the other side of the Continental Divide temporarily shut down its diversions due to water rights constraints.
The tunnel that sends Roaring Fork flows east of the was running at 295 cfs on June 18, down from 412 cfs on June 7. On June 21 at 11 am, water sent trough the Twin Lakes Tunnel was flowing at 1.88 cfs.
The USGS sensor below Maroon Creek recorded the Fork running at 1,630 cfs on June 21 at 11 am, up from 976 cfs on June 18, or 90.4% of average. That’s up from 1,270 cfs on June 11.
At Emma, below the confluence with the dam-controlled Fryingpan, the June 18 streamflow of 1,680 cfs represented about 90.3% of average. That’s down from 2,080 cfs and 106.7% of average, on June 11. On June 21 at 10:30 am, the Fork ran at 2,160 cfs at Emma.
Meanwhile, the Crystal River above Avalanche Creek, which is not impacted by dams or transbasin diversions, flowed at 1,270 cfs, or 100% of average, on June 18. Last week, the river ran at 1,740 cfs, or 135.9% of average.
The Colorado River ran at 11,300 cfs at Glenwood Springs, or 109.7% of average on June 18, up from 11,800 cfs last week, while the Colorado flowed at 21,300 cfs near the Colorado-Utah stateline, or 129.9% of average.
Aspen Journalism is compiling real time streamflow data. You can find all the featured stations from the dashboard with their real-time streamflow on this webpage.
Summer occupancy on the books slightly down from prior years — 2020 aside
Paid occupancy in Aspen reached 32.2% in May, up from 30.7% last year. Snowmass recorded 7.1% paid occupancy, down from 2022’s 8.5%, according to the May 2023 occupancy report for Aspen and Snowmass lodges, compiled by local tourism officials and reservations tracking firm Destimetrics. May occupancy reached 19.8% for the two towns combined this year, up from 21.5% last year.
It’s worth nothing that only commercial occupancy is counted in the report. It doesn’t reflect the occupancy of short-term rentals.
June paid occupancy as of May 31 was at 46.1% for Aspen and Snowmass, down from 49.4% last year.
“It appears that both the sold-out Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and the Aspen Ideas Festival are providing the solid base we’ve come to expect,” the report’s summary noted. “Ideally, last-minute demand drives occupancy for any lodges looking to fill some last-minute holes the rest of the month.”
Overall summer occupancy is down from last year with 28.8% of rooms booked for May through October as of May 31 for Aspen and Snowmass combined, down from 2022’s 33.4%.
Snowpack at Schofield Pass still holds about 9 inches of SWE
Snowpack in the Roaring Fork basin has dropped from last week, reaching an average of 1.4 inches of snow-water equivalent per site on June 18, according to NRCS.
The monitoring station near Independence Pass, located at elevation 10,600 feet, has been recording a SWE of zero inches since June 15 after gaining 0.1 inches of SWE on June 14.
The SNOTEL stations at McClure Pass (elevation 8,770), Ivanhoe (10,400) and North Lost Trail (9,219) recorded a snowpack holding less than a third of an inch of water, from 0.2 inches on June 18 for McClure Pass to 0.3 inches for that day for Ivanhoe and North Lost Trail.
Meanwhile, snowpack at Schofield Pass reached 8.9 inches on June 18. That’s down from 14.4 inches on June 11. Schofield Pass sits at an elevation of 10,700 feet between Marble and Crested Butte.
Snow water equivalent — the metric used to track snowpack — is the amount of water contained within the snowpack, which will become our future water supply running in local rivers and streams.
Lake Powell’s water levels keep climbing
Lake Powell‘s water levels began their seasonal rise in mid-March as warming temperatures initiated snowmelt, after the reservoir in the winter dropped to its lowest level on record since filling. On June 16, the reservoir was 36.99% full (with a total capacity based on a 1986 sedimentation survey) or 38.58% full (based on updated 2017-18 sedimentation data). That’s up from June 11, when the nation’s second-largest reservoir was at 35.57% of capacity (1986 data) or 37.1% (based on 2017-18 data).
On July 1, 2022, the Bureau of Reclamation revised its data on the amount of water stored in Lake Powell, with a new, lower tally taking into account a 4% drop in the reservoir’s total available capacity between 1986 and 2018 due to sedimentation. Aspen Journalism in July published a story explaining the that drop in storage due to sedimentation.
Last year, on June 16, 2022, the reservoir was 27.64% full (based on 1986 data).
On June 16, Lake Powell’s elevation reached 3,576.2 feet, or 123.8 feet from full pool, up from 3,571.8 feet on June 11. Last year, on June 16, the reservoir reached 3,537.49 feet in elevation, or 162.51 feet from full pool.
The “minimum power pool” for turbines generating hydropower at the Glen Canyon Dam is 3,490 feet, and 3,525 feet has been set as a buffer to ensure that the reservoir and the turbines can continue to function properly.
Clean air in Aspen recorded last week
The air quality in Aspen was “good” in the past week. The AQI index ranged from 39 on June 16 to 50 for ozone on June 12 and 18.
- Colorado’s Division of Water Resources
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District
- Aspen Global Change Institute