Runoff news: The Colorado River is still running high — 48,700 cfs at the state line

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From NBC11News.com (Cecile Juliette):

An early morning check of the Cameo gauge on Thursday revealed that the Colorado River had receded slightly. On Wednesday it was recorded at 13.4 feet, and on Thursday it measured 13.1 feet. A check of the Colorado/Utah border gauge revealed that the water levels have remained the same for nearly 24 hours. It registered at 15.2 feet on Wednesday and Thursday morning.

From the Telluride Daily Planet (Brittany Lane):

According to local Thom Carnevale, who keeps weather records, the San Juan Mountains saw only 41.75 inches of snow in February and March combined, lower than average levels. Then, April alone received 55 inches, compared to the average monthly total of 22.8. May collected 25.25 inches this year, much higher than the average of 7.2 inches. At the end of April, Carnevale observed snow levels of 147-160 percent of normal, while other parts of the state currently in the flood advisory stage saw more than 200 percent of normal. Coupled with a cool spring, the late snow has led to a longer -lasting snowpack on higher peaks, at least until recently.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Ashley Keesis-Wood):

The Poudre River officially overflowed its banks on Monday and rising waters were continuing to spread across portions of south-central Windsor late Tuesday…The river’s flow was 2,790 cfs (cubic feet per second) at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday.

From The Rifle Citizen Telegram (John Gardner):

City crews along with Colorado Department of Transportation crews were busy building a levee on the bank along Lions Park Circle, Tuesday, in hopes of containing the raging Colorado River…

High water in Rifle Creek, north of Rifle, also caused the city of Rifle to close Rifle Mountain Park to public access on June 3…

According to Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert this is the highest water he can remember since 1984 when Garfield County saw historic water levels of 30,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). The Colorado River was running at around 24,400 cfs Wednesday morning, according to the US Geological Survey. That was down slightly from Tuesday levels.

From The Greeley Tribune (Sharon Dunn):

“Now, nobody’s taking much water,” said Brian Werner, spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. “Farmers don’t need it, they want warm days to start the growing process. We’d like to store some of it. We just need some buckets somewhere.” Excess water is floating downstream to Nebraska, about 500 cubic feet per second more than the law requires. It’s water that could have been diverted for future storage, water officials say…

[Poudre] River flows hit highs again Wednesday of more than 3,350 cfs at the canyon mouth; in the river gauge near Greeley, the flow was at 2,100 cfs, with water depth of more than 8 feet, one foot below flood stage.

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Stroud/Jury Jerome):

Up Main Elk Creek north of New Castle, a private bridge leading to a home washed away overnight Tuesday, stranding the owner on the other side of the creek from the county road, Garfield County Road and Bridge foreman Wyatt Keesbery reported on the county’s website.

From the Craig Daily Press (Ben McCanna):

On Wednesday, a USGS monitoring station west of Craig measured the highest flows since the station was installed in 1984. “It’s a relatively short period of record we have at that gauge,” [Michael Lewis, associate director of hydrologic data at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Colorado Water Science Center in Lakewood] said. “It was started in ’84. But, it is a new record for that gauge.” The gauge recorded flows of 16,200 cubic feet per second Wednesday afternoon, and the water level was just shy of a benchmark, Lewis said. “We’re just a tenth of a foot short of flood stage, which is 11 ½ feet,” he said.

Downstream from Craig, flows are the second highest in recorded history. The highest flows were recorded in 1984, Lewis said. In Maybell on Wednesday, the flow was measured at 19,000 cfs. The next highest reading was 25,1000 cfs in 1984.

From KJCT8.com (Jeremy Alm):

Mesa County officials say the high waters of the Colorado river are starting to recede.

From the Vail Daily (Scott N. Miller):

Gage stations on the Eagle and Colorado rivers at Wolcott reported “high” streamflows Tuesday, and the Eagle River station was actually above flood stage. Both those stations backed down to “much above normal” Wednesday.

From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Tonya Bina):

Denver Water diverters are vowing to do what the utility can in its power to have the [Moffat water tunnel] running when runoff peaks, according to Bob Steger, manager of raw water supply at Denver Water. Water operations involving the Fraser River, Gross Reservoir and South Boulder Creek on the Eastern Slope are operating at status quo. Each year, Denver Water takes native water on South Boulder Creek, but how much depends on senior rights downstream of Gross Reservoir, Steger said. “We don’t know how much it’s going to last or how much we get each day,” he said. Although flows on South Boulder Creek are going up, the manager said, so far this year’s calls are “nothing out of the ordinary.”[…]

At present, water is being taken from the Fraser River at a rate of about 705 cubic feet per second, or a volume of about 1,400 acre feet a day. As of Tuesday, June 7, Gross Reservoir was at 58 feet from full, or about 20,000 acre feet. Once the reservoir gets closer to full, Steger said, the utility plans on slowing filling to “top (the reservoir) off slowly.” “We’re just focused on getting the reservoir full and having the tunnel on when the snowpack peaks,” he said. “Nobody knows when it’s going to peak.”

Colorado River Basin Water Supply & Demand Study Interim Report #1 is hot off the press

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From the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams):

Some will no doubt say such a report is a waste of federal and state funding and that scenarios suggesting global climate change will be a factor are politically motivated. But the climate change model is one of just four possible scenarios contemplated in the report, and an ongoing drought that has depleted Lake Powell and other major reservoirs along the Colorado is factually impossible to deny.

“We are fortunate here in that the State of Colorado has recognized the importance of understanding the future water supply and demand challenges, and we have made great steps forward in identifying issues and strategies,” Jennifer Gimbel, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), said in a recent release.

From The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel):

Although several academic studies have been done on the Colorado River and climate change, this is the first major effort by the federal government…

The study predicted the San Juan Mountains will sustain some of the steepest declines in runoff from spring snowmelt in the whole seven-state area.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

Florence: City council passes 5% water fee increase

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From the Cañon City Daily Record (Charlotte Burrous):

The Florence City Council narrowly passed the resolution Monday when Mayor Paul Villagrana, Councilmen Larry Baker, Ron Hinkle and Bruce Schneider voted in favor while Councilmen Charles Giebler, Joe Caruso and Councilwoman Nichole Prickett voted against it.

The new base for inside water users will increase to $34.28 per 3,000 gallons for single family dwellings, while outside water users rates will increase to $43.47 for 5,000 gallons.

Then in January, the rates will increase to $34.94 for inside users and $44.59 for outside water users.

The rates for inside users will then tier up 5.5 percent between 3,001 and 25,000 gallons and 7.5 percent between 25,001 to 50,000 gallons and 15 percent for 50,001 to 75,000 and an additional 15 percent for excess use in increments of 25,000 gallons. In January, the rates will increase by the same percentages.

For outside water users consuming more than 5,000 gallons, the rates will cost an additional 15 percent between 5,001 and 25,000 then increase 15 percent in increments of 25,000 gallons.

The top priorities for the Arkansas Basin roundtable are storage and the protection of agricultural water

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The roundtable met Wednesday to finalize its report to the state on the progress made since 2005 and the things it would like to accomplish in the future — basically fine-tuning ideas from last month’s meeting. Some members of the roundtable argued that agricultural water needs are as important as urban water supplies and should be given more weight in statewide planning efforts. “I would like to see agriculture and M&I (municipal and industrial) on equal footing,” said Reeves Brown, a Beulah rancher and member of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District board…

“Enlargement of Pueblo Reservoir is needed,” said Tom Young, a former board member of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District. “If we don’t do it, we won’t have storage for any of the other projects.”[…]

The roundtable also wants to look at sustaining or replenishing water tables in designated groundwater basins — which are slowly recharged but not tributary to the larger river system.

Max Smith, a roundtable member from Baca County, pointed to a report from Western Kansas that pumping had drawn down the Ogallala Aquifer down 17 feet in one year. “We are mining it, but not to that extent,” Smith said. “It needs to be addressed.”

More IBCC — Basin roundtables coverage here.