Snowpack News/Rio Grande Roundtable meeting recap

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

Matt Hardesty, assistant division engineer for Colorado Division of Water Resources Division 3, told attendees of the Rio Grande Roundtable meeting on Tuesday that the water office is receiving requests to start the irrigation season before April. Division 3 Division Engineer Craig Cotten is considering those requests right now and should make a decision before the end of the week, Hardesty added…

As of Tuesday, the Upper Rio Grande Basin on the west side of the Valley was sitting at 98 percent of average, based on the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s SNOTEL measurements. Wolf Creek Summit measured 105 percent of average, as did the Upper San Juan SNOTEL site, while Lily Pond and Upper Rio Grande SNOTEL sites were 71 percent and 88 percent of average, respectively. Hardesty pointed out that the Sangre de Cristo Mountain on the east side was not looking as healthy in its snowpack, with a total of 77 percent of average as of Tuesday. That percentage averaged in the high points at North Costilla and Whiskey Creek, both over 100 percent of average, with low points such as Apishapa and Wesner Springs, both around 50 percent of average. “Keep in mind these are based on high sites,” Hardesty said. “We still have concern about low and intermediate snowpack.”[…]

Based on a March 3 forecast, the Rio Grande could produce about 440,000 acre feet this year, with 137,200 acre feet obligated downstream. Given how much water has passed downstream already this year and what is expected for the rest of the year, irrigators could face a 12-percent curtailment right out of the starting gate this year to meet the compact, Hardesty explained…

On the Conejos River system, the initial forecast is 243,000 acre feet, of which 88,600 acre feet would be obligated downstream, resulting in a more than 21 percent curtailment “based on streamflow projections right now,” Hardesty said.

More IBCC – basin roundtables coverage here.

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