Power Plant Back Up, Twin Lakes Access Limited
Fishermen and other recreational users will notice some changes out at Twin Lakes and Forebay as the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) restarts the hydro-power generation at the Mt. Elbert Power Plant next week.
Water entering the power plant from the Mt. Elbert Forebay and water exiting the plant into Twin Lakes might create unsafe conditions for winter activities like ice fishing, according to BOR officials. Both locations are popular for ice fishing during winter months.
“Our concern is that once we start operating the power plant, ice in the Forebay up above and ice right below the plant in Twin Lakes might become unstable,” said plant manager, Scott Wik.
The Mt. Elbert Power Plant did go down for maintenance in mid-December 2013, according to Kara Lamb, BOR’s Public Information Officer.
“We had a problem with some of the smaller machinery that moves water through the unit. That’s all been repaired and the plant will resume operations next week,” reported Lamb in an email to Leadville Today.
Since it’s actually the U.S. Forest Service/Leadville Ranger District which manages the Forebay and Twin Lakes recreation areas, a call to Lisa Corbin, Natural Resource Staff Officer provided additional answers for people using these areas.
“We will most likely swing the boat ramp gates shut on Monday (March 3),” stated Corbin. This will prohibit vehicle traffic on the ice at Twin Lakes.
“Our main concern is that once they re-start the power plant it will probably change the ice conditions,” explained Corbin. “And we don’t know what those changes are going to be at this time.”
Most years, there are open water conditions above and below the power plant throughout the winter season. This year, a combination of sub-zero temperatures and the plant going off-line for maintenance in mid-December made it possible for the water to freeze over.
So, the district closing the lakes to vehicle traffic is a public safety issue. It’s also important to note, that it is up to each person fishing to determine if the ice is safe for pedestrian passage; it’s always been at your own risk. Earlier this week, signs were posted, on the areas warning fishermen that the plant will re-start next week.
The gates will most likely be closed for the rest of the winter season, according to Corbin. The district typically shuts the gates for vehicle traffic in mid-March, so this closure, effective next week, will be just a bit ahead of schedule.
That is, until the summer season, when the gates will be re-open to the boat ramps. But with more snow on the way this weekend, THAT seems like a long ways off! Stay Safe!