From the Summit Daily News (Jim Pokrandt):
So how are the reservoirs holding up in this drought year? They are working as planned, but water levels are being drawn down. Green Mountain Reservoir is currently about half full, well below the August average. Clearly it is going to need a good snow year this winter…
But Lake Powell is the big game. Its long-term health will determine in future decades whether Colorado and the other states just mentioned have to curtail water use in order keep required flows heading to Arizona, California and Nevada. In 1922, when negotiators from the seven states divided the river for human use, the Lower Basin States got the better half. They get theirs before we get ours. Powell has made sure that this day of reckoning has never come, and hopefully never will.
But we need more than hope. That’s why the Colorado River District and many of its constituents in Western Colorado are discussing risk management when it comes to future water development projects such as the Flaming Gorge pumpback, for example. Water providers on the Front Range are also engaged. Nobody knows for sure where we cross the line of developing too much water and forcing a curtailment on the Colorado River system that nobody wants, no matter which side of the Continental Divide. The Front Range has a big stake. Colorado River water in amounts between 450,000 and 600,000 acre-feet goes to the east in any given year, depending on conditions. Those transmountain flows are taken under water rights that would be subject to compact curtailment.
Risk management means trying to understand steps that can be taken to right-size a project or even forestall a project until more information is known about water supply and climate change.