Drought news: July inflows to Lake Powell = 14% of average

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Water managers are now forecasting a total inflow for water year 2012 of about 5.15 million acre feet, which is less than half (48 percent) of average. That would make it the third-driest year on record, but still much wetter than 2002, when total inflow was only 2.64 million acre feet (24 percent of average).

The water level in the key reservoir — which helps balance competing demands from the upper basin and lower basin states — has dropped fast, to 24 feet below the maximum 2011 level.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is reporting that July inflow was about 154,000 acre feet, with almost 900,000 acre feet released downstream. At the end of July, Lake Powell was at 60.4 percent of capacity, storing about 14.7 million acre feet. Read the full report on the Bureau’s Upper Colorado/Lake Powell web page.

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

…thanks to a deal brokered by the Colorado Water Trust and sanctioned by the State Engineer’s Office, the [Colorado River] will get a measure of relief. Some “extra” water historically used for irrigation will help boost flows in some critical reaches of the Colorado.

In addition to the Colorado Water Trust and the State Engineer’s Office, the complex deal involves the Colorado Water Conservation Board; CLP Granby, LLC; and Aspen Shorefox LLC, a financial partnership on the Western Slope that were lenders in a proposed development and own 40 cfs of water on Willow Creek, a Grand County tributary to the Colorado River.

The water trust, privately funded primarily through donations, will pay to for the short-term lease. No public money is being spent on the lease. “Instead of that water being used for irrigation it will be used for instream flows just downstream of where it would have been diverted,” said Colorado Water Trust attorney Zac Smith.

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