Runoff news

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

As of Monday, the [Fryingpan-Arkansas Project] had brought more than 43,200 acre-feet from the Fryingpan River collection system into the Arkansas River basin. More than 1,000 acre-feet a day are coming through the Boustead Tunnel into Turquoise Lake for eventual use by cities and farms on the eastern side of the Continental Divide. However the rate of flows has been dropping and could be further curtailed to meet obligations to stream flows on the Western Slope.Vaughan is confident the Fry-Ark’s yield will reach projections of an average year Ñ around 52,400 acre-feet. “Hopefully, the tunnel will keep flowing until the end of the month,” Vaughan said…

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which controls allocations from the project, took a conservative approach in mid-May, when it was already apparent the runoff was coming hard and early. The board chose to allocate only 80 percent of the anticipated water, because projections came up 10 percent short in 2008. On top of that, the first 5,000 acre-feet of water this year paid off the Pueblo Board of Water Works, which loaned water to meet the 2008 shortfall. The water generally sells for $7 an acre-foot, plus surcharges, most of which goes toward repayment and operation of the Fry-Ark Project. Factor in the annual 3,000 acre-feet payment to Twin Lakes Canal and Reservoir Co. under an exchange agreement, 10 percent transit loss and 5 percent evaporation charge, and the amount of water available for allocation this year will be 29,500 acre-feet. That’s about three-quarters of what the district was planning for one month ago, said Bob Hamilton, engineering director. Of that, almost 55 percent will go to towns and cities, while farms will get a bit more than 45 percent. Water users have been notified about what they will receive. That’s only about 36 percent of what was allocated last year – one of the highest import years in history, despite the shortfall – and the lowest amount of allocations since 2004. In fact, since 1981, only 2002 and 2004 were lower.

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