Snowpack news: Some water providers are getting nervous

A picture named snowpackmap01142010

From The Aspen Times (John Colson):

At a meeting of the Garfield County commissioners on Monday, [Dave Merritt, a board member of the Colorado River Water Conservation District] said that the snow depths in the Colorado River basin is “a little bit better than 2002 right now.” He later described 2002 as “essentially the worst year we’ve had on record” for snow depths, when the statewide snowpack was essentially gone by June…

Merritt told the commissioners that the state’s water officials, worried about the prospect of another record drought year, already are discussing whether there will be sufficient water to raise Lake Powell above its present level of 60 percent full…

Merritt said the current regulations call for an annual release of 8.23 million acre feet of water from Lake Powell to satisfy the compact’s allotments, and 1.5 million acre feet for Mexico. Another large reservoir on the Colorado River, Lake Mead (Hoover Dam), “has been dropping pretty precipitously,” Merritt continued, and is counting on an “equalization” release from Lake Powell to boost the water level. But, if the spring runoff is insufficient to bring Lake Powell’s levels up by much, Merritt said, “there’s less than a 50 percent chance of equalization” in 2010. The “equalization” is determined by a complex series of calculations related to how the Colorado’s waters are managed, Merritt explained…

The CRWCD board will hold its first regular quarterly meeting of the year on Jan. 19-20 at the Hotel Colorado. For information about the meeting’s agenda and other Colorado River issues, go to the district’s website at

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