RANGELY | Last Thursday the Rio Blanco Water Conservation District released approximately 105 acre feet, or about one inch of stored water, from Kenney Reservoir. According to District Manager Alden Vanden Brink the purpose of the release was to scour the ever-increasing algae from the river channel, with a goal to, “improve the overall health and usability of the White River for water users below Kenney Reservoir.
While the algae bloom and its associated problems are nothing new for area White River water users, Vanden Brink said that there have been more reported problems due to the algae this year.
“Water users have expressed increased issues as compared the previous couple of years. The present drought conditions are making the algae more problematic,” he said. Drought causes lower river flow patterns and higher water temperatures, both of which make easy growing conditions for the algae.
In the coming weeks the district will monitor the river to determine the usefulness of the release, specifically they will be watching the head gate and intake screens at the water plant and checking the amount of algae blockage and time commitments to keep the water systems operational. The algae bloom accumulates on the two intake screens at the Rangely Water Treatment Plant. The screens are designed to protect fish and their larvae from being sucked out of the river. In order to accomplish this, the screens are made of a very fine mesh which also makes them susceptible to algae blockage. If the flush is successful at reducing the algae the water district may consider repeating the process. “It’s too early to tell the effectiveness of the flush which will be the determining factor for any similar future releases,” said Vanden Brink.
Prior to the flush river flows were 230 cubic feet per second and during peak flushing flows reached 1,100 cubic feet per second. The flush is not anticipated to have any impact on fish in the reservoir.