The Colorado Division of Water Resources measures the flow of the Arkansas River and tributaries with a special device mounted in a miniature boat which is lowered into the current of the river. The sensors are on the bottom of the device. This, along with other measures, can tell them how long it will take a certain flow to get down the river.

Water doesn’t flow as fast as one might think. “Takes about four days to get here from Pueblo,” said John Canaday of the Colorado Division of Water Resources as he was attaching the measurement boat to the crane which would lower into the river. “It was at 2250 (cfs) at Nepesta two days ago, and it’s just getting here now.” Nepesta is about halfway to Pueblo.

As Jeanette Myers (Colorado Division of Water Resources) was helping Canaday get the measurement rig across the bridge at the high point of the North La Junta bridge Wednesday, the main problem was the traffic. “When people see orange cones out, they ought to slow down,” said Myers, “but they don’t always.” She acted as the flag person while he took the equipment across. It was a little after noon, which may account for the traffic being unusually heavy on the bridge.

“I would guess this river is going about six or seven feet per second,” said Canaday, “which gives us about four miles per hour, about what a person can walk.”

We can be thankful the water moves slowly, for that is the way the Corps of Engineers, the Colorado Division of Water Resources, and the managers of the diversions and ditches manage the flow of the water to avoid flooding. The flooding we experience in North La Junta is really ground water rising to meet the depth of the river. Seepage is already noticeable in the railway yards beneath the North La Junta Bridge.