In Boulder County, hundreds of ponds and lakes that are part of the open space network are about half full on average. Teller Lake has nearly gone completely dry.
Each pond and lake is unique with water levels varying greatly depending on the streams and ditches that feed it. Another determining factor is how much of that water goes to local farmers and growers for their crops.
“Everywhere the water has been lower. Not just the ponds and lakes but all the streams and the creeks. It’s definitely noticeable,” said lake visitor Liz Negrey…
The lake drained drastically in the past month, leaving the fish that live in the lake to slowly die in shrinking pools of water. The herons and sea gulls feasted on the dying fish…
The lake ran dry after there wasn’t enough water running in the ditch that feeds it. Most of the water was used for emergency irrigation to help nearby farm land.
From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):
The Colorado River District’s Jim Pokrandt confirmed in an email Tuesday that [Wolford Reservoir] on Muddy Creek, which flows off the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass, is at its lowest point since 2002 and well beneath its capacity of 65,872 acre-feet. The water behind the dam now stands at about 26,000 acre-feet, still above the 20,000 acre-feet low point it reached in the drought year of 2002…
It would be difficult for travelers on their way from Steamboat to Silverthorne or Denver to fail to notice how low the reservoir is.
Pokrandt said irrigators from the Grand Valley near Grand Junction were making calls on water from Wolford Mountain Reservoir right up until Tuesday.
Pokrandt said a major factor in the drawdown of the reservoir is its mission of offsetting water taken by Denver Water out of Dillon Reservoir near Frisco.
Denver Water controls 40 percent of the water in Wolford Mountain Reservoir, or about 28,000 acre-feet, Pokrandt said. It has an agreement to augment the amount of water stored in Green Mountain Reservoir to offset water it holds back from the Blue River before it can reach Green Mountain farther downstream.
The Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program also called upon 5,600 acre-feet of the 11,412 acre-feet it controls in Wolford this summer, Pokrandt said.
From Reuters (Carey Gillam):
Roughly 61.79 percent of the contiguous United States was suffering from at least “moderate” drought as of October 23, down from 62.39 percent a week earlier, according to Thursday’s Drought Monitor, a weekly compilation of data gathered by federal and academic scientists.
The portion of the United States under “exceptional” drought – the most dire classification – held steady at 5.84 percent and was mostly in western Kansas and Nebraska.
In the High Plains, which include Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, severe or worse drought levels covered 84.90 percent of the region, improved from 87.42 percent the prior week. An estimated 27.44 percent of the region was still in the worst level of drought, unchanged from a week earlier.
Nebraska is the worst hit state in the country, with fully 77.58 percent of the state classified in exceptional drought, unchanged from a week earlier. Winter wheat farmers who have planted or are wrapping up planting their new crop will need significant rainfall and/or snow to provide enough moisture to grow a healthy crop.
In Kansas, the largest hard red winter wheat producing state, “extreme” drought, the second-worst level, held steady at 77.80 percent of the state, while the worst level held steady at 39.68 percent of the state.
Areas that saw good improvement over the last week included Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota and Iowa, due to a slow-moving rainstorm through the Midwestern region.
Good rains were also seen in the west, over northern California, the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rockies.
Some of the heaviest rain and snow fell in areas that were already drought free, although precipitation chipped away at dryness and drought in a few areas, according to the Drought Monitor report. Meanwhile, dry conditions prevailed across the southern half of the West, the report said.