Forecast/snowpack news: Lingering showers over central and eastern mountains #codrought #cowx

From The Mountain Mail (Joe Stone):

Arkansas River basin snowpack ended January at 63 percent of average, second lowest among Colorado river basins. Only the South Platte basin recorded a lower snowpack percentage, 54 percent, according to data compiled by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

From the Roaring Fork Conservancy:

Current snowpack for the entire Roaring Fork Watesrhed is 70% of average. The snowpack is still lower than both last year and 2002 measurements. The Crystal River sub-watershed is holding the most snow of the entire watershed while the Independence Pass and Nast (in Fryingpan sub-watershed) sites are holding the least.

From the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

Weekend snows helped, but they hardly heaped up hopes for an improved water outlook in the Colorado River Basin. If anything, the storm underscored just how dry the winter has been. “Seriously, what snowpack?” Colorado River Water Conservation District spokesman Chris Treese said when asked about early indications from weekend snows.

“This is bad. It may not be desperate — yet. We can still creep closer to normal, but it’s going to take a very wet spring, and that’s not the long-term forecast.”

The first look at new snowpack on Grand Mesa feeding Ute Water Conservancy District was marginally more encouraging. Ute’s watershed reached 78 percent of average in the Mesa Lakes area and 
72 percent of average at Park Reservoir, while the overall Colorado River Basin is at 78 percent of average, spokesman Joe Burtard said.

“While this snowstorm has helped our snowpack levels, it is still not enough to ease the concern of domestic water providers in the Grand Valley.

At this point, we will need an above-average snowpack by the time spring hits our mountains” in early April.

Rick Brinkman, water services manager for Grand Junction, said he noted about a foot of new snow atop the mesa over the weekend, but cautioned that little can be concluded for one or two months. The city’s watershed was at 
98 percent of normal snowpack at the beginning of February.

The Drought Response Information Program, a joint effort of water providers in the valley, is still gearing up for water restrictions, said Chairman Dave Reinertsen, also the assistant manager of Clifton Water District.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Meanwhile, the snowpack in the South Platte River Basin, which includes the Poudre River Drainage and all of Larimer County, remains the weakest and driest in Colorado. Water content of the snow in Northern Colorado was 61 percent of median for the season and 66 percent of average for the year, according to U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service Snotel data for Feb. 14. That’s about 30 percent drier than the region’s snowpack was on the same date in 2012 — one of the driest winters on record that led to the most destructive wildfire season in Colorado history. The water content of the snow for Feb. 14, 2012, was 95 percent of median for the season and 94 percent of average for the year.

Today, the wettest region of the state is southwest Colorado, where the snowpack is about 90 percent of normal and drought conditions are improving.

All of north-central Colorado, including most of Larimer, Jackson and eastern Weld counties, are seeing severe drought conditions, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Drought Monitor data released Wednesday. The eastern edge of the state remains under extreme and “exceptional” drought conditions.

Flaming Gorge Task Force: ‘I felt we set the groundwork to move forward’ — Reed Dils


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Colorado still needs to look at projects to bring in new water supplies despite a state water board’s decision last month to put the Flaming Gorge pipeline task force on ice. The Arkansas Basin Roundtable, the main proponent of the task force, still supports dialogue with other state roundtables on the subject and getting the statewide Interbasin Compact Committee to tackle the issue head­-on.

“It’s time we start looking at issues,” said Jeris Danielson, who represents the roundtable on the IBCC. The IBCC has adopted a “four­legged stool” that includes new supply along with identified projects, conservation and agricultural transfers.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board in January voted to suspend funding for the task force, saying the committee was duplicating work assigned to the IBCC. The group began its work in 2011 to determine issues surrounding two proposals to build water pipelines from southwestern Wyoming to Colorado’s Front Range.

“All of us thought the task force made good progress and had some good discussions on tough issues,” said Alan Hamel, who represents the Arkansas River basin on the CWCB. “Their thoughts will be folded into other work the CWCB is doing to move forward new­supply discussions.”

“I think the most important thing we did was establish a list of attributes for what constitutes a good project,” said Betty Konarski, a member of the task force.

“I felt we set the groundwork to move forward,” said Reed Dils, a task force member and former CWCB representative. “If we’re ever going to see another large project in the state, it will take the cooperation of all the roundtables.”

Roundtable Chairman Gary Barber, who also sat on the task force, said the group identified an immediate gap in agricultural water needs, and a municipal gap by 2020. It made no recommendation on whether or not to build a Flaming Gorge pipeline.

Danielson and Jay Winner, the other basin representative on the IBCC, vowed to press the IBCC to more action at its meeting in March.

More Flaming Gorge Task Force coverage here.