Drought news: Fort Collins hints at watering restrictions in the spring #COdrought


From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

When you factor in climate change, the only certainty about Colorado’s future water supply and drought conditions is uncertainty.

There is little indication that Colorado’s drought is nearing an end. The federal government, in a report released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, is expecting dry conditions are going to be the norm about half the time over the next 50 years in the Colorado River Basin, a primary source of Larimer County’s drinking water supplies.

There are two other sure bets about drought in the Rockies right now: The 2012 drought was a natural disaster, and the precipitation outlook for the next few months is full of question marks…

“From a natural ecology point of view, the 2012 drought was horrendous,” said Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken. The region had an extremely warm March, kicking off a four-month spell of hot and dry weather, which dried vegetation and forest soils earlier than usual, he said…

On Friday, Horsetooth Reservoir was about 44 percent full, and storage throughout the Colorado-Big Thompson Project was sitting at 76 percent, said Northern Water spokesman Brian Werner.

Water supplies are expected to be adequate through the next year, but “you are going to start seeing more water providers looking at how they want to cut back,” he said. “You’ll see a lot more serious watering restrictions out of communities. Fort Collins is going to be looking at it if we stay where we’re at.”

The city of Fort Collins is likely to implement water restrictions in the spring as a precaution in case the city isn’t allowed obtain its full quota of water from Horsetooth Reservoir, city Water Resources Manager Donnie Dustin told the City Council in November.

He said the city will explore ways to get more water from the reservoir, including halting water rentals to the North Poudre Irrigation Company.

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