Snowpack news: Statewide snowpack at 65% of average, South Platte basin — 76%, Rio Grande basin (88%) drops to below average

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Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right and then go out and conjure up the snow spirits.

From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

The snowpack for the entire state is [35] percent behind the norm.

However, most of the snowfall in the mountains comes in March and April and “some really good snowstorms during those months could get numbers back up to normal before the snow season is over,” said David Nettles, an engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources office in Greeley.

Also, the amount of water stored in northern Colorado reservoirs and other storage facilities is at healthy levels because of last year’s above-average snowpack. Dana Strongin, communications specialist with the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, said water levels in the region’s 12 reservoirs that are part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project are nearly 30 percent above normal.

“There’s nothing terribly alarming about the snowpack numbers we’re seeing right now,” Nettles said. “If this continues, that could be a different story. But for now, we’re not panicking.”

Jim Hall, water resources manager for the city of Greeley, echoed Nettles’ comments. He said the current low levels of snowpack aren’t particularly alarming, not for a city that has plentiful access to water storage facilities.

Since reservoir levels are well above average, those with senior rights on the river and access to water storage facilities — particularly municipalities — will be in good shape for quite a while, even if low snowpack levels persist.

Nettles said it’s those with junior water rights and who don’t have access to storage water — consisting mainly of farmers in the region — who will be hurt first if snowpack numbers stay low, or fall off even further.

Frank Eckhardt — a LaSalle area farmer who serves as president for the board of directors for the Farmers Independent and West Mutual ditch companies, and also serves presidents of the Board of Consolidated Ditches, made up of 11 ditch companies — said there are only two ditch companies between Denver and LaSalle that own rights to water storage facilities.

“Just about all of us farmers depend on good snowpack and having good flows in the river to operate,” he said. “Hopefully Mother Nature starts to cooperate with us a little better. Hopefully there will be more snow.”

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