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River Management

 Whitewater River Flow & Safety Level Information 

Image of Whitewater river raftingOur focus:  River safety, the latest word on public access to the river, and sharing the resource with residents and other river recreation enthusiasts.

 

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How will the River Management Plan affect private boaters? 

Below 2000 cfs (cubic feet per second)

Typical River Conditions

  • Chili Bar Dam controls flows
  • Clear Water
  • Rapids rated up to Class III+
  • Flows may increase quickly due to upstream hydroelectric operations

Group Responsibility

(each level builds on previous levels)

  • Class III equipment: multi-chamber raft, Type III white water PFD's, full size paddles, throw rope, first aid & wrap kits
  • Class III skills - boat in control, allow adequate space between groups in rapids, no loose lines or gear, standard hand signals
  • Be trained in swift water safety / rescue, CPR, first aid  

2000 - 4500 cfs

Typical River Conditions

  • Current speed, wave size & hydraulics increase noticeably
  • Cold snow melt water during winter and spring months
  • Strainer hazards on some river banks

Group Responsibility

  • Wet suits/dry suits recommended
  • Guide has South Fork high flow experience
  • Keep group compact for quick response to swimmers
  • No single-boat trips

4500 - 8000 cfs

Typical River Conditions

  • Large waves & holes can flip boats
  • Water always extremely cold
  • Hypothermia risk from long swims
  • Strainer hazards along entire river
  • Flow may increase rapidly, turn silty during and after storms
  • Some rapids Class IV (above 6000 cfs)

Group Responsibility

  • Wet suits/dry suits necessary
  • Helmets recommended Advanced boating skills required
  • Wear high flotation PFD's Know routes to avoid boat flips - "When in doubt, scout"
  • Rig boat for flips
  • Group fitness: Everyone must be able to paddle hard, recover from flips, swim to safety in strong current 

Warning: Flows above 8,000 cfs demand the utmost respect and caution


8000 - 12,000 cfs

Typical River Conditions

  • Winter storm flows and harsh weather
  • Large floating debris
  • Swims are a distinct possibility

Group Responsibility

  • Trained safety boaters advised
  • Swims may be life threatening due to strainers
  • Scout all rapids

12,000 - 30,000 cfs

Typical River Conditions

  • Difficult to avoid boat flipping waves & holes

Group Responsibility

  • Teams of experts only with trained safety boaters
  • Rescue & communication gear necessary

Above 30,000 cfs

Typical River Conditions

  • Flood stage conditions

Group Responsibility

  • Boating not recommended due to extreme hazards
  • River subject to immediate closure

The last several years, the utilities have generally operated their systems more conservatively early in the summer, with longer duration and somewhat higher releases occurring again in mid to late August.