Runoff news: Colorado River streamflow at Glenwood Canyon less than 20% of average

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Average Colorado River flows through Glenwood Canyon this time of year are about 6,000 cfs, but this year, the river has been flowing at less than 20 percent of that, at about 1,100 cfs.

Looking to raise stream flows, the Colorado River District, Denver Water and the Bureau of Reclamation are cooperating under the Shoshone outage protocol, which helps sustain flows along the Colorado River mainstem with water from Wolford Mountain Reservoir, Williams Fork Reservoir and Green Mountain Reservoir — even when Xcel’s Shoshone power plant isn’t exercising a senior water right that historically keeps at least some water in the river during dry seasons and years.

“This makes a real difference in the river,” said Colorado River District general manager Eric Kuhn. “Since we started, you can see … that the temperature of the water has come down 4 degrees.

Releases from the three reservoirs of about 450 cfs should help sustain flows through Glenwood Canyon at about 1,100 cfs at least through this weekend and early next week. The 1.100 cfs flow rate is a benchmark for commercial rafting outfitters on the river, and the releases will also help farmers in the Grand Valley, Pokrandt said.

Here’s a release the Eagle River Water and Sanition District (Diane Johnson):

Drought worsens locally: “Extreme” drought area expands to include Eagle County

Northwest Colorado continues to fall deeper into drought with extreme conditions now widespread. Eagle County drought intensity was elevated to “extreme” by the U.S. Drought Monitor, joining Garfield, Rio Blanco, Moffat, Routt, and parts of Grand, Jackson, Larimer, Summit, Pitkin, and Mesa counties.

Drought intensity throughout Colorado is worsening. The June 12 map, released Thursday, shows 20 percent of the state is designated as being in an extreme drought, 9 percent more than last week. Extreme drought is classified as “D3” on the drought intensity scale of D0 to D4.

All of Colorado continues to experience some level of drought and the areas least affected are shrinking. Last week, 24 percent of the state was designated as D0, “abnormally dry,” which dropped to 9 percent this week.

Drought conditions reflect this winter’s record low snowpack, including the driest March on record in Colorado, the warmest March through May on record, and windy conditions. Streamflows have been correspondingly low. Eagle County waterways are flowing at about 30 percent of historical averages and peak runoff was early and hardly noticeable in some streams.

Our community water supply is largely dependent upon adequate flows in local streams and rivers. Eagle River Water and Sanitation District encourages community members to lessen the impact of drought by efficiently using water, especially in outdoor areas.

Should drought conditions persist, water available for irrigation and other outdoor uses may be less than normal, or unavailable, this year. Currently, normal year-round Water Use Regulations apply, which allow outdoor water use up to three days per week, before 10 am or after 4 pm.

For more information go to www.erwsd.org

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

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