Storage news: Southeastern’s winter water storage program diversions are about half of normal #CODrought


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

No surprise: Winter water storage is at about half of last year’s levels, and less than 40 percent of average. The program, administered under a water court decree by the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, allows 11 Arkansas Valley ditches to store water from Nov. 15 to March 15. The water can be used either to start crops in a dry spring or finish them in a dry summer.

But in the midst of a drought, there is just not much to store.

The first accounting of storage this year, on Nov. 30, showed just 9,764 acrefeet had been stored. The 20­year average is 24,600 acre­feet. By the same time last year, 19,500 acre­feet had been stored.

That doesn’t bode well for the next few months if dry conditions don’t let up.

Last year, winter water netted 121,000 acre­feet, about 85 percent of average.

River flows on the Arkansas River continue to lag far behind normal levels. Snowpack in the Arkansas River basin, as well as the Upper Colorado River basin, which provides supplemental water to the valley, is at just 25 percent of average.

Rainfall in the Pueblo area is just 4.7 inches, about 40 percent of normal and the driest year since 2002.

Meanwhile, the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project Board is planning to pony up $18.8 million in 2013 for various costs including $1.8 million for to enhance streamflow in the Colorado River. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka Writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board Thursday approved the 2013 budget with $18.8 million in expenditures, most of which will go to the federal government to repay the Fryingpan­Arkansas Project.

The district also approved the expenditure of about $1.8 million toward a ranch to provide water for Colorado River flows. Southeastern is joining other water providers to buy the Red Top Ranch near Granby for water rights that will be used to protect endangered fish in the Colorado River. That includes some money budgeted this year, but not spent because of delays in contract negotiations.

Revenues to the district are expected to be about $16.2 million through a 0.935 mill levy in parts of nine counties, water sales, payments from enterprise members and investments.

Most of the money will go toward repaying federal contracts for the Fryingpan­Arkansas Project to the Bureau of Reclamation — $6.5 million to repay the agricultural share of the project and $5.3 million for the Fountain Valley Conduit (paid only in El Paso County).

The budget also includes about $500,000 for continued work on the master lease contract, Arkansas Valley Conduit and outlet interconnection at Pueblo Dam.

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