Drought news: Pueblo’s water reserve levels drop to lowest point since 2005, above 2002

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Pueblo water storage levels have dipped to the lowest point since 2005, but remain well above the low point in 2002.

Pueblo stores both native and imported water, and in most years can accrue a surplus. But the prolonged drought has cut into the supply, and Pueblo has been pumping water from storage to meet needs.

“We’re no longer pulling water out of storage,” Executive Director Terry Book told the Pueblo Board of Water Works Tuesday.

In 2002, Pueblo kept about 16,000 acre-feet in storage, and drew that supply down by a third during the height of the drought. Pueblo keeps water in Pueblo Reservoir, Twin Lakes, Turquoise Lake and Clear Creek Reservoir, which it owns.

After 2002, Pueblo increased its storage target, and reached a high point of 50,000 acre-feet last year. The levels vary throughout the year, because some water is leased out of storage. Normal levels of precipitation or water imported from the Colorado River basin replenish the supplies.

At the end of September, 28,788 acre-feet were in storage — about one year’s supply of potable water for Pueblo — compared with more than 43,000 acre-feet at the same time in 2011. Pueblo’s maximum storage would be 69,300 acre-feet.

One of the consequences of drawing down the storage will be the likelihood that the water board will have less water to lease on the spot market next year, which affects farmers who are looking for augmentation water for wells or surface-fed sprinklers.

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