Snowpack news

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From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

With snowpack levels below average in the Upper Colorado River Basin, the forecast is for runoff from melting snow to range from 70 to 90 percent of average within much of the river and its tributaries. The volume at Cameo is projected to be 75 percent of average, and the volume forecast for the Gunnison River in Grand Junction is 83 percent of average. Flows into Lake Powell are expected to be 70 to 75 percent of normal…

Snow levels on Grand Mesa, which supplies municipal water to Grand Junction and Palisade, also are in decent shape, [Bryon Lawrence, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction] said. The snowpack level at Mesa Lakes on Thursday was 88 percent of normal, the Conservation Service reports.

From the Telluride Daily Planet (Matthew Beaudin):

According to a report released by the National Weather Service’s Grand Junction hydrologist, the San Juan Mountains are holding slightly more snow than normal but the water tables north of here aren’t as set, with roughly 25 percent less snowpack than normal. “It’s been a moderately strong El Niño, which has peaked and is starting to weaken,” said Bryon Lawrence, the service hydrologist for the NWS in Grand Junction. “Most of western Colorado, despite the drier conditions, is still in pretty good shape.”[…]

According to the report, runoff volumes in early spring will range from 70-90 percent of normal in the Upper Colorado River and its tributaries across the central and northern mountains, such as the Yampa River near Steamboat Springs. South of there, though, flows are expected to be at or above average. The San Juan should run at about 102 percent of normal and the Animas at 93 percent. The San Miguel and Dolores rivers are anticipated to run at 95 percent of normal…

Southeastern Utah has seen a monster winter, and its snowpack is at 150 percent of normal in the Abajo mountains. Spring inflows into Lake Powell are expected to come in at about 70 percent of normal. Lawrence said that in spite of the below-average snowfall across the state, reservoirs are full because Colorado enjoyed a few years of above-average precipitation.

From the Indy Blog (Pam Zubeck):

Although some portions of the Rockies are less snowy than normal, Pikes Peak received 187 percent of its normal precipitation from Feb. 1 to 15. That, coupled with higher-than-usual storage, makes for a sunny outlook for water supply, Colorado Springs Utilities water expert Kevin Lusk said Wednesday…

He said the Springs’ storage of water stands at 76 percent capacity, compared to the 34-year average of 63 percent this time of year. Rampart Reservoir is at 90 percent capacity and Pikes Peak storage at 78 percent of capacity.

Arkansas Valley Conduit update: $3 million in President Obama’s budget will enable the final design by 2013

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“It will allow us to finish the preliminary work to get to the final design by January 2013. Then we can move into land acquisition and construction,” Jim Broderick, executive director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, said Thursday…

The conduit received $5 million in funding this year, and funding for $3 million is included in President Barack Obama’s budget for next year. The Southeastern district is trying to convince members of Congress to add an additional $5 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year. The district is working with the Bureau of Reclamation to “fast-track” the project, allowing the environmental review and conceptual design to move ahead on parallel tracks. Meanwhile, the district is wrapping up its $1 million project to develop baseline engineering data for the conduit, said consultant Kevin Meador.

More Arkansas Valley Conduit coverage here and here.

HB 10-1197: Reduce Conservation Easement Cap Amount

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“This will give us the ability to mold easements in the future,” [Jay Winner, the general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District] said Wednesday. “It should also give the landowners surety in an easement that was not there in the past.” The Lower Ark district has a big stake in making easements work as part of its mission to protect water in the Lower Ark Valley. The district has received about 50 conservation easements since it was formed by voters in five counties in 2002. Winner has been working with a state oversight commission through the Division of Real Estate to clean up a system that has been plagued by improper appraisals and tax credits which cannot be marketed because of the cloud of suspicion surrounding conservation easements statewide.

Last week, the state House passed the legislation, HB1197. It has moved to the state Senate. The legislation would cap tax credits at $135,000, rather than the $375,000 currently allowed, at 50 percent of the fair market value. It also would limit the impact to the state budget to $26 million. In 2008, $63 million in tax credits were claimed. To sort out conservation easement claims, the Division of Real Estate would be given the power to promulgate rules and issue certificates for easement claims. The Department of Revenue would make quarterly reports to the Legislature on the amount of net gain to state revenue, under the assumption that claims would have remained at 2008 levels. Tax credits would be based on a first-come, first-served basis of approved certificates.

More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here. More conservation easement coverage here and here.

Aspinall Unit update

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From email from Reclamation (Dan Crabtree):

Due to dryer than average conditions in the Gunnison Basin, flows from the Aspinall Unit will be reduced by 200 cfs, from 800 cfs to 600 cfs. This change will be achieved through two 100 cfs cuts occurring on Sunday, February 21.

More Aspinall Unit coverage here.