Spring Water Levels On The Deerfield River

Spring Water Levels On The Deerfield River

by Blair Winans

Charlemont, MA -  The recent heavy snow storms have greatly added to the snow pack in western Massachusetts. This week's storm dropped over a foot of new snow in the region with more snow in the forecast for the coming week. According to the National Weather Forecast Service out of Albany, NY the snow pack conditions and runoff potential for flooding are normal for this time of year. Temperatures are predicted to be near or below normal and precipitation will be mostly in the form of snow over the next two weeks.

According to Matthew Cole, US Generating New England, External Relations Specialist for the hydro-power company on the Deerfield River, "This year's precipitation year-to-date total is almost normal when compared to previous year averages in the southern Vermont area. The reservoirs are a little higher than normal, but the temperatures are slightly below normal. The likelihood of a spring freshet filling our reservoirs for the summer, after the weather warms up in April is excellent." US Generating New England operates seven hydro-electric generating plants in Massachusetts and Vermont along the Deerfield River's 70-mile course.

The power company constantly measures snow pack depths through out the Deerfield River watershed to determine how much water it contains and calculate how much will eventually end up in the reservoirs. There is still enough water in the snow on the ground in southern, Vermont to bring the Harriman Reservoir up another 20 feet or so. The levels of Harriman Reservoir are critical to downstream recreational flows during the summer. "This year's water storage for the river will go a long way for whitewater recreation releases this summer", says Bruce Lessels, owner of Zoar Outdoor. "We have a normal full schedule of rafting trips and kayak classes for the summer and anticipate no problems due to the power company's careful management of the water levels on the river," explains Lessels.

Whitewater releases on the Fife Brook (Zoar Gap) section start on April 9th and will run until October 21st as required by the 40-year FERC operating license. Releases generally occur every week from Wednesday to Sunday, with breaks in the schedule to allow for plant maintenance. Releases at the Monroe Bridge (Dryway) section start on Memorial Day weekend. For more information about whitewater rafting and instruction, contact Zoar Outdoor at 800-532-7483 or see www.zoaroutdoor.com/schedule.htm for water release information.

For more information call 800-532-7483 or by emailing info@zoaroutdoor.com.

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