Snowpack news: Dry west and in the average range east of the Great Divide, last Thursday’s beautiful snow really helped

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We’re in the time of year where one good storm, like the one last Thursday, can really move the snowpack as a percent of average. Here’s the graph for the South Platte River Basin. Here’s the 24 hour precipitation map for Jefferson County for December 22, 2011 from CoCoRaHS.

Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for the snowpack map from last Friday.

The Colorado River Basin is at 67% of average. Statewide is 78%. Dry in the Fraser River headwaters.

Here’s a look at the Madden-Julian Oscillation which is overpowering La Niña right now — according to the staff at the National Weather Service in Boulder — from Bob Berwyn writing for the Summity County Citizens Voice. From the article:

The resulting weather pattern has looked much more like an El Niño phase of the Pacific cycle, but the good news (for Colorado) is that the Madden-Julian phase has weakened. That means that a more typical La Niña pattern — with a storm track out of the northwest — may once again begin to dominate Colorado weather.

In fact, a series of small and fast-moving storms is starting to line up in the Pacific Northwest, with a chance of snow in the northern mountains Wednesday night and the potential for a few more disturbances to cross the area on and off through the end of the week.

The Madden-Julian oscillation is a 30- to 60-day cycle featuring an eastward progression of large regions of both enhanced and suppressed tropical rainfall, observed mainly over the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

Restoration: South Suburban Parks and Recreation is planning a four million dollar project on the South Platte River south of Denver

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Increased opportunity to fish for trout? I’m in. Here’s a report from Bruce Finley writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

The $4 million project run by South Suburban Parks and Recreation, with support from Arapahoe County and Littleton, would scoop a deeper channel into a 2.4-mile stretch of the river south of central Denver. A “riparian terrace,” planted with native willows, dogwoods, berries, wild plums and buffalo grasses, would fall away toward the river. In the waterway, a dozen or so riffles and pools where fish can escape heat would be created, and eroding banks would be stabilized with buried rip-rap rocks…

Today, the South Platte “no longer functions as a natural river system” that can support a riparian corridor, according to a report commissioned by Littleton planners. The state’s reclassification of the South Platte shifted its status from “cold water” to “warm water class 1” — which is defined as capable of sustaining a wide variety of sensitive species “but for correctable water-quality conditions.”

Point-source polluters — such as the Littleton/Englewood Water Treatment Plant, just east of the river between Yale and Hampden — now have greater flexibility in the discharges they are allowed to release into the river. The problem with cleaning up discharges is that plant upgrades will require more money than Littleton and Englewood can afford, Brinkman said.

More restoration coverage here.

Reclamation Issues a Lease of Power Privilege to Develop Hydropower at Ridgway Dam

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Here’s the release from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Steve McCall/Justyn Hock):

Reclamation announced today that it will issue a Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) to the Tri-County Water Conservancy District to develop hydropower resources at Ridgway Dam, a feature of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Dallas Creek Project located near Ridgway, Colo.

Reclamation will issue the LOPP based on the final environmental assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the proposal. These documents have been completed in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act to address the effects of the construction and operation of hydropower facilities. The FONSI concludes that the proposal will not significantly affect the human environment

The final EA and FONSi are available at: www.usbr.gov/uc/ under environmental documents or a copy can be received by contacting Steve McCall with Reclamation in Grand Junction.

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

Next CWCB board meeting January 23-24

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board:

Notice is hereby given that a meeting of the CWCB will be held on Monday January 23, 2012, commencing at 8:00 a.m. and continuing through Tuesday, January 24th, 2012. This meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center located at 7800 E Tufts Ave, Denver, CO 80237.

More CWCB coverage here.