Decades ago, finding a river on which you could be pretty certain of an exciting experience used to be dependent on recent rain or the melting of the previous winter’s snow. The ‘season’ for reliable bouncy and fun river recreation was during the late winter, spring and early summer months.
That’s still the case today on many rivers: you can enjoy whitewater in the spring and return to the same river for a lazy summer float during the summer when flows are lower and slower. You may not know exactly how much water will be in the river on a given day, but you’ll have a good idea based on the season and recent weather.
Many rivers now flow with uncanny consistency and at the same level of flow, whether you paddle in early May or late July. They may ‘run’ on certain days of the week, and sometimes provide a slightly higher level, predictably on Saturdays vs. Sundays: it’s sort of weird when you think about it!
Well, this predictability is great for rafters, canoers and kayakers who have jobs during weekdays. Being able to head to a river for a rafting trip at say, 10 a.m. on a specific Saturday knowing the water will be at predictable level is pretty darn great. This predictability can be a result of an agreement with the owner of a dam that collect water for either flood control or the production of hydropower. In Colorado, several towns have secured a Recreational Instream Channel Diversion or RICD, which is a type of water right that guarantees flow on specific days, as long as there is sufficient supply available upstream of the town.