Runoff news: San Luis Valley having a good water year

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

The creek at the dunes flowed, Platoro Reservoir was full, the San Luis Lakes hosted boating for the first time in years, well levels rose and the San Luis Valley’s rivers delivered water to downstream states in what local water experts are viewing as a pretty good water year so far. Making the 2002 drought year a dry memory, the 2009 water year has been so healthy in terms of recharge, spring run off and precipitation that the Valley’s rivers have had no problem meeting their Rio Grande Compact delivery obligations to New Mexico and Texas. As a result, water administrators have not had to cut irrigators back on water use to the extent they normally do, and even junior priority water rights came into priority this year…

Currently the Rio Grande has an 8-percent delivery obligation to the state line, but the water division is able to handle that with return flows. “We have about 100 cfs [cubic feet per second] down at the state line right now,” Cotten said. Even with the flow only about 70 percent of average right now, the Rio Grande should have no problem meeting its annual obligation to downstream states according to [Division III Division Engineer Craig Cotten]. “It was really a good year,” he told members and guests of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District Board (RGWCD) on Tuesday…

Retired Division Engineer and current RGWCD Manager Steve Vandiver said he saw more gains in the aquifer in May than he had ever seen. Several monitoring wells saw gains of 12 feet in just one month, he said. Mike Blenden, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said habitat conditions on the Monte Vista wildlife refuge were good, almost like “the good old days.” “We raised a lot of birds,” he said…

RGWCD District Engineer Allen Davey noted unanticipated gains for the first part of the year in his longitudinal study of the Valley’s unconfined aquifer storage. “We have seen some drop off now, but it’s going to have to be a good year,” he said. He said he also found increases in confined aquifer monitoring wells.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

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