Snowpack news

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From the Loveland Reporter-Herald: “Moisture levels in the mountains west of Loveland have declined slightly in the past month, according to readings from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Readings on Thursday showed only the two highest observation posts in the Big Thompson basin were above seasonal averages for water content. Williow Park, at 10,700 feet, and Bear Lake, at 9,500 feet, were at 102 percent and 110 percent of the 30-year average, respectively. Two other locations, Hidden Valley and Deer Ridge, were at 77 percent and 82 percent of the 30-year average.”

From the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Snowpack in the Arkansas River Basin is 119 percent of the average for this time of year, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. In the upper Colorado River Basin, it’s 118 percent.

But at a snow-monitoring station at Glen Cove on Pikes Peak, the snow measured just 0.7 inches Thursday. The peak’s north slope has received about half the normal snowfall, and this week’s warm temperatures melted much of the meager 2.8-inch snow depth measured over the weekend. Wednesday’s average of 51 degrees in Colorado Springs was 18 degrees above normal. “This is kind of the second year in a row where we’ve had poor runoff and poor snowpack on Pikes Peak proper, so the water on Pikes Peak isn’t looking as good,” said Kevin Lusk, water supply engineer for Colorado Springs Utilities. Utilities gets an average of 18,410 acre-feet, about 20 percent of its water, from 10 Pikes Peak reservoirs…

According to Lusk, snowpack in the mountains around Twin Lakes in Lake County is 128 percent of normal. The Blue River system, near Hoosier Pass, is at 100 percent. The Homestake system, in the mountains of southwest Eagle County, is at 130 percent…

Despite the dry winter, the Pikes Peak reservoirs are above average, at 71 percent capacity, compared to a late-February average of 65 percent, which Lusk attributed to the heavy snow elsewhere that allows Utilities to move around water. Utilities’ total water storage is 78 percent of capacity. Lusk said the average for late February is 62 percent. The warm dry weather has made for an early fire season on the plains.

According to the National Weather Service, just 11.8 inches of snow have fallen at the Colorado Springs Airport this season, less than half the normal 26.7 inches for this time of year. A red flag fire warning was in effect Thursday for much of southern Colorado, and fire danger was listed as “high” to “very high” in the eastern half of the state.

Southern Delivery System: Springs City Council will decide route

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If Pueblo County ultimately approves a permit for the Southern Delivery System through the county it will be up to the Colorado Springs City Council to decide which route to take for the pipeline, according to a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Fremont County moved ahead in the process this week when commissioners approved a special use permit. During the meeting Tuesday morning, Pueblo County staff made the call to delay a public hearing three more weeks to give themselves more time to work out details for a 1041 permit.

Colorado Springs still views the Pueblo Dam route as most favorable, but has developed the Fremont County option as its fallback plan. The hearing is now scheduled to resume at 6 p.m. March 18 at the Pueblo County Courthouse. “We’re real pleased with the outcome in Fremont County, and the conditions seem reasonable,” said John Fredell, SDS project director. “We are making progress in Pueblo County, but there are still a lot of things we need to work out. In the end, it will come down to a business decision by our board (the Colorado Springs City Council).” Chief among those are the conditions on Fountain Creek, which would be affected under either plan by increased daily flows of treated wastewater into the creek and runoff from the new development that would be served by SDS in Colorado Springs, Security and Fountain. “On the Pueblo County side, everything centers around the conditions on Fountain Creek,” Fredell said. Fountain Creek impacts are addressed in the environmental impact statement by the Bureau of Reclamation, which looked at the recently formed stormwater enterprise as the primary vehicle for dealing with flows…

Pueblo County staff wants even tighter assurances that if more problems pop up on Fountain Creek, they will be addressed by Colorado Springs and its SDS partners. “We’ve had some meetings and discussed some possible language,” Fredell said…

Other than the Fountain Creek issue, which Fredell is optimistic would be addressed with either route, Colorado Springs has taken pains to offer the same sorts of things to both counties, Fredell said. Issues like revegetation, noise control, dust control, roads and easements are treated the same in both counties, with some of the same conditions Pueblo staff wants already included as commitments referenced in Fremont County’s permit.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.