Climate change and instream flows in Colorado

A picture named doloresrivercanyon.jpg

From KUNC (Kirk Siegler):

Researchers looked at average global climate models for the year 2070 and applied them to various rivers in western Colorado, where water levels are already stressed. “This is a unique study because we’ve taken these predictions that just focus on the reduction or the increase in temperature,” said Ray Alvarado, of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, “And superimposed those on the local level to see what is the impact on supplies. It hasn’t been done before.” And researchers found climate change would rear its ugly head differently across western Colorado. They found that more precipitation would fall in the winter by 2070, but far less in the summer. The rub is that precipitation may fall in the form of rain, not snow. Not good for storing water that cities, farmers and others depend on.

The study also shows that water levels on the Colorado River would drop by about 23 percent, 35 percent on the Gunnison, and 70 percent on the Dolores in southwest Colorado…

Some parts of the state could see more moisture in a warmer world. State officials say northwest Colorado’s Yampa River could drop by only 2 percent by 2070. That’s also the river that’s being most closely eyed by thirsty cities and the oil shale industry.

More climate change coverage here.

3 thoughts on “Climate change and instream flows in Colorado

    • Andrew,

      I emailed Ray Alvarado at the CWCB. Here’s his answer:

      The presentation that the Colorado River Water Availability (CRWAS) team presented yesterday will be posted on the CWCB website. Please keep in mind that this study has 2 phases and Phase 1, which the presentation is part of, is not complete and the presented results are not final, but preliminary findings. The draft final Phase 1 report will be out in January, 2010.

      The following location is as follows:

      http://cwcb.state.co.us/WaterInfo/CRWAS/CDSSSupportingDocumentation/

      The site contains all technical memoranda associated with the study along with past presentations. I hoping to get it posted this morning, but continue to check throughout the day.

      I hope this helps. Thanks for commenting.

      John Orr

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