A “flushing flow” of water being released from the Buffalo Bill Dam next week will allow the Willwood Irrigation District to release some of the sediment built up behind the Willwood …
A “flushing flow” of water being released from the Buffalo Bill Dam next week will allow the Willwood Irrigation District to release some of the sediment built up behind the Willwood Dam.
The irrigation district plans to release sediment between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7. Shoshone River users should expect elevated turbidity downstream of the dam during that time.
The sediment is being released just ahead of a flushing flow from the Buffalo Bill Dam. The river surge will begin with rapidly increasing flows on Wednesday — jumping from 800 cubic feet per second to 4,000 cfs between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. — before dropping back to about 1,000 cfs on the night of Saturday, April 10.
Flows of 4,000 cfs or more in the Shoshone River are not unusual during peak summer snowmelt runoff periods. However, the flows will be high for this time of year, and the public is urged to use extreme caution during the flushing flows.
The purpose is to help protect the fishery by following the sediment release and pushing the sediment downstream. The sediment release and increased flows are being coordinated to minimize impacts to irrigators, recreators and aquatic life in the Shoshone River, officials say.
The Willwood Irrigation District is working with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Wyoming Water Development Office, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Geological Survey, the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office and others on the release.
The Game and Fish requested the flushing flow with support from Willwood Work Group 2. The effort will be closely monitored using real-time USGS equipment and observers from the work group on-site.
The Bureau of Reclamation said it’s able to retime operations and provide the flushing flow because of anticipated inflows to Buffalo Bill Reservoir; the bureau said it expected to have to pass excess water this spring. The flushing flow won’t adversely impact overall power generation at Buffalo Bill Dam or the water available for irrigators, according to the bureau.
Questions regarding the sediment release can be directed to David Waterstreet at 307-777-6709 or David.Waterstreet@wyo.gov.