Snowpack news: Grand County cloud-seeding update

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Reid Armstrong):

This winter, scientists have been keeping a close eye on the weather in Grand County, hoping to catch the right kind of clouds headed in the right direction to give storms the little boost they need to produce more snow. Cloud seeding in Grand County is being funded by the organizations that stand to benefit most from big snow in the mountains — those who supply drinking water to metropolitan areas along the Colorado River and those who provide snow- and river-based recreation. While this is not the first cloud seeding project in the area, it is the first partnership of this size and scale…

Studies of the 35-year-old cloud seeding project in Vail and Beaver Creek have shown that water flows coming out of the creeks and rivers in seeded areas are 10 to 15 percent higher on average than those in nearby areas that aren’t affected by the seeding program. In some years, when storm tracks favor Vail, the seeding program has been shown to increase stream flows by as much as 35 percent…

Denver Water has been funding cloud seeding projects in the upper Fraser Valley on and off for two decades. It funded a program in the early 1980s and again in 2002/03 and 2003/04. But the program was halted — primarily for funding reasons — until this year when the new partnerships were formed, said Steve Schmitzer, Manager of Water Resources Analysis for Denver Water. This partnership has given the project the strength of scale. The partners are spending $110,000 with Western Water Research, which is running 10 manual generators (operated by private property owners), and $62,000 with Desert Research Institute, witch is running two remote generators (operated by cell phone) in the area…

This year [the Colorado Water Conservation Board] is spreading about $320,000 to programs around the state, including Winter Park, Vail, Gunnison, Grand Mesa and the San Juans, [Joe Busto, weather modification program coordinator for Colorado Water Conservation Board] said.

From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Matt Barnes):

Snowpack in the high-elevation mountains above Middle Park now ranges from 50 percent to 101 percent of the 30-year average, with the highest readings on the southeast side of the valley and the lowest readings on the north side. This is slightly more than 2002, except for the north side and Jones Pass, which still have even less snow than they did in 2002.

Snow density is averaging 22 percent, which means that for a foot of snow there are 2.7 inches of water. This is less water than normal for this depth of snow on March 1.

Northwestern Colorado and the North Platte River have the lowest snowpack in the state. The highest snowpack, relative to normal, is in the upper Rio Grande Basin and the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado.

Boxelder Regional Stormwater Authority puts moratorium on fees for some areas upstream of regional reservoirs

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From The North Forty News (Cherry Sokoloski):

Discussions about the Boxelder Regional Stormwater Authority have been contentious over the past few months, with many property owners complaining about being included in the fee area. At a Feb. 11 meeting, the authority agreed to a moratorium on fees for properties upstream of regional reservoirs while the boundary issue is being resolved. They set Dec. 31 as the end date for the moratorium. According to county engineer Mark Peterson, fees will be waived for properties upstream of the following reservoirs: Windsor Reservoir #8, #8 Annex, Elder, North Gray, South Gray, Clark and Indian. Larimer County’s payment to the authority will be less because of the waived fees. Larry Lorentzen, who represents Wellington on the authority board, clarified that the authority will not go back later and collect the waived fees.

The commissioners and [authority manager Rex Burns] agreed that upstream reservoirs within the fee area provide considerable mitigation of stormwater flows, so properties that drain into these reservoirs should be removed from the fee area. Also, they said, properties north of County Road 70, which were not included in the original fee area, need to be looked at again. However, the board refused to recommend boundary changes until the issue can be studied further…

If the authority does decide to recommend boundary changes, Larimer County, Fort Collins and Wellington would need to approve an amendment to the intergovernmental agreement that created the authority.

More stormwater coverage here and here.

Snowpack news: Northern part of Colorado pinning its hopes on a wet El Niño spring

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From The Greeley Tribune (Bill Jackson):

Water content of the snowpack in the Poudre and Big Thompson canyons, with a couple of exceptions, is below the long-term and last year averages, and a lot of snow will be needed this month, traditionally the snowiest month of the winter season. “I’ve been talking to some folks who say we’re in the same kind of weather pattern we were had in ‘03 when we got that huge spring storm that dumped about 5 feet of snow. But who knows?” John Fusaro said. Fusaro, along with Todd Boldt from the Fort Collins office of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service take monthly surveys through the end of April of the snowpack in the two canyons that feed northern Colorado with water.

From the Sky-Hi Daily News:

A check of nearby ski resort websites indicates that Winter Park received the most snow out of the mini-system, with 16 inches of fresh powder reported during the past 24 hours. The only other resort that even came close was Loveland, with 11 inches. Snow tapered off quickly to the west, with Arapaho Basin reporting seven inches, Breckenridge five inches and Vail one inch.