It looks like the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District wants to store some of the late season snowpack in Granby Reservoir. Here’s a report from Eric Brown writing for The Greeley Tribune:
Additional water won’t be released from northern Colorado’s largest system of reservoirs, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s board of directors decided on Friday. The quota for the Colorado-Big Thompson Project will stay at 60 percent, according to Northern Water spokesman Brian Werner.
The decision came as a disappointment to farmers, who are in the midst of spring planting and in search of more water for the growing season.
But it was applauded by city water officials, who want to keep as much water as possible in storage for the future.
The two river basins that collect snowmelt for the C-BT Project’s 12 reservoirs had seen huge improvements in snowpack since the Northern Water board set its water quota at a lower-than-average 60 percent last month. With the recent snowpack upswing, the Northern Water board considered increasing the water quota during its meeting Friday, but in the end, the board agreed the quota needed to stay where it is so less water is used this year and reservoirs can be refilled.
The C-BT Project’s reservoirs were depleted throughout 2012, as water users heavily relied on water in storage to get through an extreme drought.
Werner said the Northern Water board will continue evaluating the C-BT quota at its monthly meetings. If the board were to increase the C-BT water quota by 10 percent, for example, that would make available an additional 31,000 acre-feet of water — or about 10 billion gallons — to northern Colorado cities, industries, farmers and ranchers.
Since the C-BT project went into use in 1957, the Northern Water board has set a quota to balance how much water could be used through the growing seasons and how much water needed to stay in storage for future years. The historic average for the C-BT quota has been just above 70 percent, according to Werner.
Throughout the spring, water officials from cities — including Jon Monson, director of the city of Greeley’s water and sewer department — had generally pushed for a quota of about 50-60 percent, and were glad Friday to see that it was staying in that range. “We definitely want to see that water stay in the system a little longer,” Monson said of the C-BT Project, which supplies anywhere from 30-50 percent of Greeley’s water demand, and also provides water to users in eight northern Colorado counties.
Many farmers, on the other hand, have asked for a quota of about 70 percent. “We’d like to have more water, but we also understand the need to refill reservoirs,” said Frank Eckhardt, a LaSalle-area farmer and board member for various irrigation ditch companies and water districts.
Eckhardt said the recent snow and rain will help the spring planting of corn, sugar beets, onions and other crops get off to a good start, but he and others worry about running into water shortages down the road if precipitation is less frequent. “That’s when we really might need some extra water,” Eckhardt said, noting that he hopes the Northern Water board will look at increasing the C-BT quota this summer if the upcoming months are hot and dry.
From the Northern Colorado Business Report:
Despite plentiful spring snows and rain, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy Board has opted not to boost the amount of water it will provide to its members this year, deciding instead to maintain the quota at 60 percent. “It came down to the over-riding concern that we have to build reserves back up in a year like this,” said Brian Werner, the district’s spokesman.
Werner said Northern’s reservoir storage levels are 30 percent below average, due to last year’s drought. “That’s a big hole,” Werner said.
From the National Weather Service Pueblo office:
CENTRAL PORTIONS OF THE STATE HAVE RANGED FROM 125 TO 175 PERCENT OF NORMAL…DUE TO A COOL NORTHWEST FLOW WEATHER PATTERN. THISCOOL AND WET WEATHER PATTERN HAS ALLOWED FOR SOME IMPROVEMENTS IN THE DROUGHT ACROSS THE CENTRAL MOUNTAINS AND PORTIONS OF THE UPPER ARKANSAS RIVER VALLEY. HOWEVER…THIS WEATHER PATTERN DID NOT BRING MUCH PRECIPITATION TO WESTERN AND SOUTHEASTERN PORTIONS OF THE STATE…WITH PRECIPITATION TOTALS OVER THE PAST TWO MONTH RANGING FROM 25 TO 50 PERCENT OF NORMAL ACROSS MOST OF THE REST OF SOUTH CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST COLORADO.
WITH THIS IN MIND…THE CURRENT US DROUGHT MONITOR CONTINUES TO INDICATE MOST OF SOUTHEASTERN COLORADO IN EXCEPTIONAL (D4) DROUGHT CONDITIONS. THIS INCLUDES SOUTHEASTERN PORTIONS OF EL PASO COUNTY…CENTRAL AND EASTERN PORTIONS OF PUEBLO COUNTY…CENTRAL AND EASTERN PORTIONS OF LAS ANIMAS COUNTY…AS WELL AS ALL OF CROWLEY…OTERO…KIOWA…BENT…PROWERS AND BACA COUNTIES.
EXTREME DROUGHT (D3) CONDITIONS CONTINUE TO BE INDICATED ACROSS NORTH CENTRAL THROUGH SOUTHEASTERN FREMONT COUNTY…SOUTHWESTERN THROUGH EAST CENTRAL TELLER COUNTY AND MOST OF THE REST OF PUEBLO AND EL PASO COUNTIES. EXTREME DROUGHT (D3) CONDITIONS ALSO REMAIN INDICATED ACROSS EASTERN HUERFANO COUNTY AND WESTERN LAS ANIMAS COUNTY.
SEVERE DROUGHT (D2) CONDITIONS CONTINUE TO BE DEPICTED ACROSS SOUTHWESTERN THROUGH EAST CENTRAL CHAFFEE COUNTY…NORTHWESTERN THROUGH SOUTHEASTERN FREMONT COUNTY…NORTHERN TELLER COUNTY…NORTHWESTERN EL PASO COUNTY…EXTREME WESTERN PUEBLO COUNTY…WESTERN HUERFANO COUNTY AND EXTREME NORTHWESTERN LAS ANIMAS COUNTY…AS WELL AS ALL OF CUSTER…SAGUACHE…RIO GRANDE…CONEJOS…ALAMOSA AND COSTILLA COUNTIES.
MODERATE DROUGHT (D1) CONDITIONS REMAIN ACROSS LAKE COUNTY AND NORTHERN AND WESTERN PORTIONS OF CHAFFEE COUNTY.
MORE INFORMATION ON THE US DROUGHT MONITOR CLASSIFICATION SCHEME CAN BE FOUND AT: WWW.DROUGHTMONITOR.UNL.EDU/CLASSIFY.HTM
SUMMARY OF IMPACTS…
DROUGHT CONDITIONS EXPERIENCED OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS HAS IMPACTED SOUTH CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST COLORADO IN MANY WAYS…INCLUDING INCREASED WILDFIRE ACTIVITY AND DANGER…FAILED AND POOR YIELD ON NON IRRIGATED CROPS…CATTLE LOSS AND ABANDONMENT…AS WELL AS QUESTIONS ON WATER AVAILABILITY AND WATER RIGHTS.
AS A RESULT OF THE PERSISTENT DRY CONDITIONS…GOVERNOR HICKENLOOPER HAS ACTIVATED THE STATES DROUGHT RESPONSE AND MITIGATION PLAN TO ENSURE THAT THE STATE IS DOING EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO ADDRESS THESE DROUGHT RELATED IMPACTS. MANY LOCAL COMMUNITIES HAVE ALSO IMPLEMENTED DROUGHT RESPONSE MEASURES…INCLUDING MANDATORY WATERING RESTRICTIONS.
THE FOLLOWING WEBSITE HAS BEEN DEVELOPED TO HELP INDIVIDUALS DETERMINE WHAT THE RESTRICTIONS IN THEIR SPECIFIC COMMUNITY ARE: WWW.COH2O.CO
FIRE DANGER IMPACTS…
SOME BENEFICIAL MOISTURE HAS BEEN RECEIVED ACROSS PORTIONS OF SOUTH CENTRAL AND SOUTH COLORADO OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS. HOWEVER…THIS HAS NOT BEEN ENOUGH TO ACCELERATE GREEN UP AND ALLEVIATE THE MODERATE TO HIGH FIRE DANGER ACROSS THE AREA…WITH SEVERAL SMALL WILD FIRE STARTS REPORTED ACROSS THE AREA OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS.
A CONTINUED LACK OF MOISTURE…ALONG WITH INCREASING TEMPERATURES AND THE START OF THE CONVECTIVE SEASON…WILL LIKELY KEEP HIGH FIRE DANGER ACROSS THE AREA AND COULD LEAD TO MORE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS INSTITUTING FIRE RESTRICTIONS OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS.
THE LATEST INFORMATION ON FIRE BANS AND RESTRICTIONS CAN BE FOUND AT:
THE LATEST CPC AND VIC SOIL MOISTURE CALCULATIONS INDICATE SOME IMPROVEMENTS IN CONDITIONS ACROSS NORTHERN AND CENTRAL PORTIONS OF THE STATE. HOWEVER…DRIER TO MUCH DRIER THAN NORMAL SOIL MOISTURE CONDITIONS REMAIN DEPICTED ACROSS MOST OF SOUTH CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST COLORADO…WITH THE LARGEST DEFICITS INDICATED ACROSS CENTRAL PORTIONS OF THE SOUTHEAST PLAINS.
THE LATEST USDA COLORADO CROP REPORT ALSO SUPPORTS THE DRY CONDITIONS ACROSS THE STATE…WITH 46 PERCENT OF TOP SOIL MOISTURE RATED AT SHORT OR VERY SHORT ACROSS THE STATE. THIS COMPARES TO 44 PERCENT OF TOP SOIL MOISTURE RATED AT SHORT OF VERY SHORT LAST WEEK AND TO ONLY 36 PERCENT AT THIS SAME TIME LAST YEAR. AS FOR SUBSOIL MOISTURE ACROSS THE STATE…74 PERCENT WAS RATED AT SHORT OF VERY SHORT THIS WEEK…COMPARED TO 80 PERCENT LAST WEEK AND TO ONLY 47 PERCENT AT THIS SAME TIME LAST YEAR.
THE LATEST PASTURE AND RANGE LAND CONDITIONS WERE RATED 73 PERCENT POOR TO VERY POOR…COMPARED TO THE FIVE YEAR AVERAGE OF ONLY 32 PERCENT RATED AS POOR TO VERY POOR.
THE COLORADO CROP REPORT ALSO INDICATES ONLY 13 PERCENT OF THE WINTER WHEAT CROP REACHING THE JOINTING STATE AT THIS TIME. THIS IS WELL BEHIND THE 65 PERCENT RECORDED LAST YEAR AND THE OVERALL AVERAGE OF 50 PERCENT FOR THIS TIME OF THE YEAR.
THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN PUEBLO FOR THE PAST MONTH OF APRIL WAS 3.9 DEGREES BELOW NORMAL…MAKING APRIL OF 2013 TIED AS THE 11TH COLDEST ON RECORD. PUEBLO RECEIVED 0.30 INCHES OF PRECIPITATION ALONG WITH 3.4 INCHES OF SNOW THROUGH OUT THE MONTH…WHICH IS 1.10 INCHES AND 0.4 INCHES BELOW NORMAL…RESPECTIVELY.
THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN COLORADO SPRINGS FOR THE PAST MONTH OF APRIL WAS 3.8 DEGREES BELOW NORMAL…MAKING IT THE 23RD COLDEST APRIL ON RECORD. COLORADO SPRINGS RECEIVED 0.33 INCHES OF PRECIPITATION THROUGH OUT THE MONTH…WHICH IS 1.09 INCHES BELOW NORMAL AND MAKES APRIL OF 2013 THE 14TH DRIEST ON RECORD. COLORADO SPRINGS ALSO RECEIVED 3.6 INCHES OF SNOW THROUGH OUT THE MONTH OF APRIL…WHICH IS 1.3 INCHES BELOW NORMAL.
THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN ALAMOSA FOR THE PAST MONTH OF APRIL WAS 0.5 DEGREES BELOW NORMAL. ALAMOSA RECEIVED 0.32 INCHES OF PRECIPITATION AND 2.2 INCHES OF SNOW THROUGH OUT THE MONTH…WHICH IS 0.27 INCHES AND 1.3 INCHES BELOW NORMAL…RESPECTIVELY.
From the Fort Collins Coloradan (Bobby Magill):
Northern Colorado has been bone dry since the summer of 2011, and it takes more than a few weeks of wet weather to make up for that.
“We are still very much in deficit over the longer term,” said Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken. “We are now above average for the current year by about an inch. It’s so much better than a year ago (that) it feels excessive.”
But the area has seen only 93 percent of normal wet precipitation during the past 365 days — 1.05 inches below normal, he said.
From May 10, 2012, to May 9, 2013, Fort Collins received 15.05 inches at the Colorado State University campus weather station, according to data compiled by Colorado Climate Center researcher Wendy Ryan. The normal precipitation for that period is 16.1 inches.
Though it’s early in the month, Fort Collins still hasn’t seen the full amount of precipitation it would normally get in a typical May despite all the rain and snow. The city normally receives about 2.5 inches of wet precipitation in May. So far, Fort Collins has officially received 2 inches…
The U.S. Drought Monitor, compiled by regional weather and climate scientists, considers how much precipitation has fallen in an area over the span of an entire year when determining whether a region is abnormally dry or significantly drought-stricken.
“If it was only short-term, we would be out of drought,” Doesken said.
From NASA Earth Observatory:
A round of late-spring snowstorms in 2013 offered a rare bit of positive news for reservoir watchers. Two of the three key river basins that feed Lake Powell—the Green River and the Upper Colorado River—saw much higher levels of precipitation in April than normal. The extra rain and snow provided critical relief for farmers, but hydrologists say that the precipitation was still too little to have much impact on the reservoir.
Snowpack peaked at 81 percent of average total accumulation in the Upper Colorado and Green, noted U.S. Bureau of Reclamation hydrologist Katrina Grantz. But the resulting runoff is likely to be only 45 percent of average because the parched soil is expected to absorb much of it. Some of the smaller reservoirs north of Lake Powell will get a boost, but Grantz expects Lake Powell to increase by only a few feet this spring and summer. Normal inflow from spring runoff, in comparison, would cause lake levels to rise by about 40 feet (12 meters).Randall Julander, a U.S. Department of Agriculture hydrologist, summed the situation up best. “Slight improvement in the Colorado basin water supply is like expecting a road-killed jackrabbit to feed a whole pack of hungry coyotes. It’s not nearly enough to go around,” he said.