Runoff/snowpack news: Green Mountain Reservoir might not fill this year


From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

BuRec spokesperson Kara Lamb said the agency isn’t sure yet whether Green Mountain Reservoir will even have a so-called paper fill this year. As of April 5, water experts were still crunching snowpack numbers and streamflow projections, with at least some preliminary projections for Green Mountain Reservoir due by the end of next week.

Those projections will be of interest to recreational stakeholders at Green Mountain Reservoir, who rely on a short summer boating and fishing season to maintain businesses through the year.

A paper fill is when some the water that’s technically part of the Green Mountain water right is held back in Dillon Reservoir. Instead of letting that water flow down the Blue to Green Mountain Reservoir, Denver Water, through an exchange, uses water from Williams Fork Reservoir to meet downstream demands for Green Mountain water.

The April 1 start of fill declaration by the BuRec is the earliest date that the agency can start calling for water to fill Green Mountain Reservoir. The timing was triggered by the dismal snowpack and the expectation of an early runoff, said BuRec spokesperson Kara Lamb.

Already, many streams in the headwaters region are running well above average for this time of year, and the snowpack in the Upper Colorado is below 50 percent of average and dropping fast.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

A couple days ago, I updated you on the reduction of flows at Green Mountain Dam to the Lower Blue. We had scaled back releases to about 72 cfs. Tonight [April5], I am updating you again to let you know that, with recent snow pack conditions in mind, that release rate is likely to remain in effect well into May–and possibly longer, depending on weather.

We also declared our “start of fill” at Green Mountain on April 1, this year. That means, we started storing water in the reservoir on April 1–the earliest date we can start storing.

From The Mountain Mail (Callie McDermott):

Mage Skordahl, assistant snow survey supervisor with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said the entire Arkansas Basin is at 56 percent of average – downstream basins that have received above-average precipitation account for the higher overall snowpack. Statewide snowpack is also 52 percent of average – down 29 percentage points since March 1.

In a press release, Phyllis Ann Philipps, state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, reported statewide snowpack conditions have not been this low since 2002, when the April 1 snowpack also was reported to be 52 percent of average.

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