Sabot L'ours (sabotlours) wrote,
Sabot L'ours

The Silver Lining

Back in 2009 I had one of the biggest fuck-ups of my career. I adopted a plan to fill our main reservoir but I didn't allow much room for error. The plan would have worked perfectly had we not had a heat wave which caused the snow to melt much more quickly than anticipated. I came into the office and saw that the inflow to the reservoir was shooting through the roof. The reservoir was just about full, and the added inflow would soon cause water into the spillway. The only problem with that was that the spillway was in such horrible shape that any water was released down it, it could possibly lead to failure of the dam. It was a good thing I wore brown pants that day ("Deadpool" joke). The result was we had to make a release from the dam that hadn't been that high in decades. No one was sure what would happen. Thankfully the answer was "not much." Water lapped up to the foundation of a cabin just downstream. It also lapped up against an out-building that housed a pump. Outside of that, no damage. It would have been a non-issue, but an asshole rancher drove his pickup into a flooded stretch of road in a backwater and ended up getting stuck. He screamed bloody murder about that and I ended up getting spanked with a letter of reprimand for my careless action. The upside to this whole thing happened slowly over time over the next few years. Biologists went out there and realized that my "careless action" did more good for the river ecosystem than had happened over the past 20-30 years. The channel widened in places which created great habitat. Accumulated sediment which had clogged gravels used by trout for spawning were now cleaned out. Even though it was a fuck up, I was eventually crowned a hero of the river. (Yes! I pulled a Homer Simpson!") River ecologists now started asking, "Can you do that again?"

Fast forward to this year. There was no way we were going to fill the reservoir due to legal constraints. The State, however, made a deal to store some water which would be released during the peak of the Spring runoff to benefit an endangered fish in the Rio Grande. I only had a short period of time to release this water. I threw out the suggestion that we could do a flow similar to 2009 if the parties were in agreement. Everyone thought it would be a great idea. I suggested going to 2500 cfs, but after the meeting it was decided to go big and target 4000. Back in '09 it was 5500, so there was no danger of damage. And so we just finished the operation. We'll have to wait and see if it was a success based on the reports from the biologists. The one good thing is that a co-worker who deals with the ecology folks has said that the buzz is that this was mostly my doing. I'm hoping that it will have been a rousing success and perhaps I'll get a letter of appreciation instead of a letter of reprimand. *crosses claws* Even if I'm not formally recognized, it will be nice to be known as a champion of healthy rivers.
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