CWCB: Water Availability Task Force meeting recap

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Below are my notes from yesterday’s meeting:

Flood potential

No one gave a report on flooding potential.

Announcements

Taryn Hutchins-Cabibi said that the Colorado River Water Availability Study closes Wednesday. The CWCB will only consider comments in written form. Submit them to Ray Alvarado at the CWCB.

The public comment period for the statewide drought plan opens on Friday, July 23. They will accept comments until August 20. All materials will be available on the CWCB website on Friday.

State drought plan

Ms. Hutchins-Cabibi informed the group about the status of the statewide drought plan and some of the methodology used. She went into detail about their vulnerability assessment. She says that this was the first vulnerability assessment that she knows about that incorporates climate change. She detailed the timeline for the plan:

1. Incorporate written comments and finalize plan — September 14
2. Colorado Water Conservation Board approval — September 14
3. Submit to Colorado Department of Emergency Management so the plan can be included in the State Hazard Mitigation Plan– late September
4. Adoption by Governor Ritter and submittal to the Federal Emergency Management Agency — late 2010

State Climatologist’s report

Wendy Ryan said that June was the warmest in Colorado since the state started keeping records in 1895. Precipitation for June varied from dry in southwestern Colorado and the Rio Grande Basin to above average precipitation for the northeastern plains. Precipitation for the water year is above average for most of the state with some exceptions such as El Paso County.

Grand Lake is having a, “very dry year,” she said. They are tracking below the driest year on record.

Grand Junction is experiencing below average precipitation as is Montrose. Mesa Verde is a little below average, Del Norte is average, Pueblo is above average, Burlington is way above average, Akron is average and Fort Collins and Boulder are above average.

She said that the U.S. Drought Monitor is showing D0 (abnormally dry) in parts of the San Juans, San Luis Valley and the upper Colorado River Basin.

NRCS

Mike Gillespie said that his report would focused on precipitation since there is no snow left.

The Yampa and White River basins have been quite dry and that is the story so far for July. Reservoir storage is at 109% of average.

The Colorado Basin is coming in at 90% of average precipitation. After tracking just below average for most of the year things dried out in June and July, he said. Reservoir storage is at 113% of average and 99% of capacity.

The South Platte Basin is showing 91% of average precipitation and had average precipitation for June. Reservoir storage is 107% of average.

The Gunnison Basin is tracking at 91% of average precipitation for the water year and has been tracking below average for the year. They’ve seen two and a half months of below average making them, “quite dry,” he said. Reservoir storage is 104% of average.

In the southwest corner of the state the San Miguel, Dolores and San Juan basins precipitation is, “almost a flat line so far,” and things are, “beginning to lag quite a bit,” he said. They’ve been below average for precipitation for 3-4 months. Reservoir storage is sitting at 109% of average.

In the Rio Grande Basin the precipitation for the water year is 90% of average. They are experiencing a, “drying trend as well,” Gillespie said. Reservoir Storage is at 81% of average.

The Arkansas Basin has seen several months of below average precipitation and is sitting at 84% of average. Reservoir storage is 101% of average.

So the statewide figures are: 90% of average precipitation; reservoir storage at 106%; and a, “drying trend going into the summer months,” according to Gillespie.

More CWCB coverage here.

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