Know your watershed by following the Uncompahgre River Classic!

Follow along with the announcements about the 3rd annual Uncompahgre River Classic peak flow contest this year, and learn about the importance of know streamflows and peak flow information! Stay tuned for updates on making your peak flow prediction between March 1 and May 1.

In the photo above, you can see the difference in the Uncompahgre River at the same rapid at Rollans Park in late June. On the left, the man in yellow shorts is standing on the same rock during high flows in 2017, where the children are sitting during low flows in 2018. With low river flow, the water was much clearer and you could see the rock layer under the river, while with high flows, the water was murky and brown.

~ ~ ~

Last year, the Uncompahgre River reached its annual peak flow above Ridgway Reservoir at midnight on May 16, 2022. It was 619 cubic feet per second. The year before, the peak flow was reached on June 5 at 11 p.m., and was 1,260 cubic feet per second.

It’s anybody’s guess when it will happen this year… or is it? 

Peak flow is the greatest amount of water that flows in a stream at any one time within a year. When it happens and how much water is carried at that moment are two unique ways of measuring streamflow conditions in a watershed. For example, this information helps demonstrate how much rain and snow are captured in a watershed, though other variables such as sunlight and soil affect the peak flow amount as well.

By tracking and understanding peak flow trends, water users and managers can better plan for various activities such as building infrastructure, irrigating crops, releasing water from dams, fishing and paddling on streams, and many other water uses and land uses around streams.

In the graph above, you can see the pattern of peak flows and other stream flows at one location on the Uncompahgre River over the past five years. Some years had higher flows and others lower, while some had earlier flows and others later. Do you notice any trends?

~ ~ ~

Test Your Knowledge: Measure what you know about peak flows by taking this quiz. If you wish to be put in a drawing to win a RiverFest shirt, please provide your email address with your answers.
Optional: Please include your name and email address to be entered into a drawing to win a Ridgway RiverFest shirt.
Optional: To have your answers plus the correct answers emailed to you, please provide your email address.

Don’t forget to make your peak flow prediction for 2023 and you may win great prizes in the Uncompahgre River Classic!