Drought news: Fall rainfall totals in the San Luis Valley disappoint

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

The gauging station at Culebra Creek, outside of San Luis, has recorded water levels below 2002 drought levels for most of the summer…

Where the Rio Grande’s annual forecast was 415,000 acre feet last month, it is now 410,000 acre feet, Cotten reported to the Rio Grande Roundtable, which met in San Luis on Tuesday. Cotten said the forecast has gone down about every month this year. The 410,000-acre feet flow for the Rio Grande this year is 63 percent of the long-term average, Cotten added.

Although Colorado is still delivering some water downstream, its obligation on the Rio Grande is currently zero, so there are no curtailments on the irrigators along the Rio Grande.

The same is true for the Conejos River system, the other main contributor to the state’s Rio Grande Compact. The annual forecast on the Conejos River system is about 180,000 acre feet, or 55 percent of the long-term average, with zero curtailments made at this point and zero obligations required downstream…

Cotten also shared results of Allen Davey’s longitudinal unconfined aquifer study, which reflect a decrease of more than a million acre feet since 1976 to the present. Roundtable member Steve Vandiver said the latest figure is 1.2 million.

When asked if his office has been seeing a large number of applications for replacement wells because of the drought, Cotten said many people had already redrilled their domestic wells to deeper depths in 2002 and 2003 so his office is not seeing that many requests this year. He has had requests to redrill irrigation wells to deeper levels, which his office is objecting to, he said…

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