Drought/snowpack news: Streamflow in the Arkansas and Colorado rivers expected to be 56% of avg this season #codrought



The winter water storage program on the Arkansas River hit a record low this season. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:

The winter water storage program hit its lowest level since its inception in the 1970s, as drought continues in the Arkansas River basin. The winter water program, which began Nov. 15 and ended Friday, stored only 67,167 acre-feet, less than half of average and 90 percent of the 2002-03 total, according to the final accounting released Tuesday. That’s more bad news for farmers, who already face poor soil moisture, reduced flows and in some cases well shutdowns for lack of replacement water.

Cities also are affected. “We did not get a lot of help from winter storage,” Alan Ward, water resources manager for the Pueblo Board of Water Works said. The water board is able to store in its own Clear Creek Reservoir, Twin Lakes and Lake Pueblo during the storage program, and recorded about 2,500 acre-feet, about 70 percent of average. Pueblo’s storage is 40 percent of average, and just 69 percent of the levels last year.

While the water board has put spot leases on hold this year, no mandatory outdoor water restrictions are planned. “As long as our direct flow rights stay in priority, we’re not anticipating moving into restrictions,” said Executive Director Terry Book. The board will continue to monitor conditions and may make a slight change in drought conservation policy at its April meeting.

Snowpack lags last year in the Arkansas River basin, at 75 percent of average, while it’s 72 percent of average in the Colorado River basin. Pueblo gets about half its water supply from diversions over the Continental Divide. “We’re beginning to see fairly regular showers in Leadville,” Ward said. “After such a slow start, we’re keeping pace, but not catching up.”

Stream flows are projected to be at about 56 percent of average this year in both the Arkansas and Colorado river basins.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

St. Charles Mesa Water District customers are being asked to reduce outdoor water use as drought continues in Southern Colorado. The district has sufficient water, with storage at 85 percent of capacity, and flows in the Bessemer Ditch at 71 cubic feet per second.

“At that rate the district should be able to maintain its storage and refill this spring. We have Fryingpan-Arkansas Project water in Pueblo Reservoir as a reserve and will use a small portion in 2013,” said Manager David Simpson. “If conditions remain the same in 2013 we would have the project water available for 2014.”

The district is asking its customers to reduce their outdoor irrigation. “Watering one time per week helps establish the lawn root system,” Simpson said. “Watering two to three times per week for short periods does not allow the water to soak into the soil.”

From the Broomfield Enterprise (Megan Quinn):

Broomfield is weighing options on how it gets its water supply, but won’t know until April whether the city will get a reduced amount from one of its main water sources. In April, Broomfield’s two main water suppliers will announce how much water municipalities will receive for the year, City and County Manager Charles Ozaki said during the City Council meeting Tuesday. Broomfield could then decide to buy more water from certain suppliers or ask residents to make changes to save water, he said.

The city has not announced any water restrictions for residents, at least for now. “A lot depends of the type of weather we will have in the next couple weeks, but it is more and more likely that restrictions will imposed” in places that might affect the city’s supply, such as the Denver Water Board, Ozaki said.

Broomfield gets a portion of its water from Denver Water, and as part of its contract, Broomfield must follow any water restrictions the board puts in place. For example, if Denver Water implements a 20 percent water use reduction plan, Broomfield would have to reduce the amount of treated water it receives from Denver Water by 20 percent. That would add up to about 8 percent of Broomfield’s total water supply, according to a staff memo. Broomfield gets its water from Denver Water and from the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. Both sources rely on mountain snowpack…

Broomfield will have a better idea of its available water on April 12, when the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District will set quotas for water customers. Broomfield gets more than half of its supply from the district…

In Boulder, officials are asking residents not to water their lawns until May. In Fort Collins, lawn watering has been limiting to two days a week starting April 1.

From the Windsor Beacon (Sam Noblett):

Beginning April 1 voluntary water restrictions will be put in place for those Windsor residents in the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District, according to a release from the district. The district provides service to those locations west of the county line. Currently all of Windsor is affected by a town ordinance setting in place restrictions on lawn watering but it does not go into effect until May 1. The ordinance restricts all lawn watering, except where privately owned well or raw water is used with the proper permit visible, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The new water restrictions for the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District restricts lawn watering to the same limit placed by the town barring lawn watering from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. but further asks that residents limit lawn watering to two days a week on specified days…

Hawkins said the water district has been limited to using 50 percent of the water it owns this year by the [Northern] Colorado Water Conservancy District.

The days when residents may water lawns is broken down accordingly:

-Residential addresses ending in an even number may water on Thursdays and Sundays.

-Residential addresses ending in an odd number may water on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

-Commercial, business, and multifamily addresses and those within an HOA may water on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Further restrictions are made on car washing and the washing of driveways and sidewalks. When washing a car, the restrictions ask that a hose shut off nozzle and a bucket are used. The restrictions ask that residents do not use water to wash driveways and sidewalks at all. Special allowances may be made for new lawns, large properties, medical hardships, religious objections, and well or raw water. New lawns will be exempt from the restrictions for four weeks, large properties will be limited to to one inch of water per zone, medical hardships and religious objections may choose alternate watering days and there are now restrictions on well or raw water.

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