Today I drove by the familiar bridge on Witt Rd and saw water coming down the river. It seems early for this to happen, remembering that early in my life the river would flow year round. The sight of water reminds me that we are on the verge of Spring and that soon I need to be preparing to plant early spring crops like alberjon (peas) and habas (fava beans). It also reminds of the upcoming irrigation season and the cleaning of acequias. How long will the water last this year? My guess, especially with the early river flow, is that we can only count on irrigation until about June, if even. But it is still early in the season and it could still snow in the mountains to supplement our waters. It could also be a rainy season which could make for good agricultural production even if there is not flood water for irrigation. I wish I had more time and resources to monitor the river and look at day to day flows, graph them in units of CFS (cubic feet per second), and make better predictions on our flows and the dynamics around the snowmelt. You can see a post from 2014 that the river started to flow in March of that year (https://solfelizfarm.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/rio-don-fernando-starts-flowing/). In that year we were able to take measurements which were compared to flows in 2013, you can read that post here: https://solfelizfarm.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/on-the-flow-of-rio-don-fernando/
When the river turns muddy it will signify the start of the runoff (note that at the time of writing this post in the last week of March, the runoff has begun.) When the water turns more clear after that, the peak runoff has past.
The picture also indicates challenges we have with the ecology and integrity of the stream channel. Overgrowth of Siberian Elm is a major invasive along the river bank and sections of the river have been greatly impacted by the presence of roads and development, often right along the edge of the river. There is a problem with salt and “welding” of the stream bed from application of salt and pumice when it snows. There is a problem with e. coli contamination upstream and downstream of this section of the river (determined to be TNC or Too Numerous to Count), luckily we do not have such a dramatic presence of e.coli here that would affect our irrigation water. We also have to think of fire danger in the upper watershed. A fire and the flow of silt and ash that could happen afterwards could be devastating. I don’t know what it would take to restore our river, maybe someday we will have a big flood and she will clean herself… Until then, I know our acequia community is doing what we can to do our part and other groups like Amigos Bravos are looking at water quality. Someday all these stakeholders will be able to come together in a meaningful way and address the problems in our watershed and make some positive change…
Thanks for keeping us posted hermano…. yes, streamflow is picking up but not yet getting turdid.
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