Last day at Interior for Ken Salazar

CWCB: Next Water Availability Task Force meeting April 18 #COdrought

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From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Ben Wade):

The next Water Availability Task Force meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 18 from 9:30a-12noon & will be held at the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Headquarters, 6060 Broadway, Denver in the Bighorn Room.

The agenda has been posted at the CWCB website.

More CWCB coverage here.

Parachute Creek spill: Jurisdictional questions unclear for Colorado’s response #ColoradoRiver

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

State agencies continue to discuss issues of jurisdictional oversight over the liquid hydrocarbons leak near Parachute, something that could have a bearing in terms of the amount of potential fines that could be imposed in the incident.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has been leading the investigation into a leak of thousands of gallons of hydrocarbons in a pipeline corridor near Parachute Creek. “That may continue to be the case but we’re continuing to sort that out,” said Steve Gunderson, director of the Water Quality Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which also has been involved in the case.

The commission has issued notices of alleged violation against Williams, which has pipelines in the corridor serving its adjacent gas processing plant, and WPX Energy, which owns the contaminated site and has wells and other facilities in the area. Williams said this week it has determined that a faulty valve gauge on its natural gas liquids line coming from the plant is the source of the leak, but the commission said while that is a possible explanation, it is continuing to investigate.

By state law, the commission can impose fines of up to $1,000 a day per rule violation, although a bill now being considered by the Legislature would increase that to $15,000. Gunderson said daily fines for violations of his division’s rules can run up to $10,000 a day.

Commission fines also are capped at a total of $10,000 per violation, although that cap can be waived under circumstances such as when significant environmental impacts occur. The legislation now being considered would remove that cap.

Gunderson said while he understands why everyone focuses on penalties, the big costs for violators come from what regulators call “injunctive relief.” “It’s what we require the entity to do to fix the problem and prevent the problem from happening again,” he said.

The commission has rules addressing leaks and contamination related to exploration and production. Health Department rules govern groundwater and surface water contamination. The Environmental Protection Agency also has been involved in the Parachute case. “I cannot say yet how the jurisdictional issues are going to work out,” said Todd Hartman, spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources, of which the commission is a part, said this week.

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Colson):

An April 10 statement from Todd Hartman, communications officer for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), noted that Williams’ identification of a faulty gauge attached to an above-ground valve as the source “provides a possible explanation of a release in this area.” But, Hartman’s statement continued, “The investigation of the cause or causes of the impacts to soil and groundwater will continue until we can determine whether the release described by Williams accounts for the situation on the ground.”

According to statements from the COGCC and Williams, the company has continued drilling new monitoring wells along the banks of Parachute Creek to determine the overall size of the plume and to check for groundwater contamination.

According to the COGCC’s April 10 bulletin, three new groundwater monitoring wells about 50 feet south of Parachute Creek showed benzene at concentrations between 51 parts per billion (ppb) and 450 ppb. That is considerably lower than the levels of benzene found closer to the reported source of the leak.

Hartman also reported that surface water samples taken from the creek itself, about two and a half miles downstream from the plume, showed no sign of contamination. The samples were taken at about the spot where the town of Parachute takes irrigation water out of the creek.

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Colson):

By April 2, [Juan Rodriguez, the Dallas-based deputy regional director of OSHA] said, a formal investigation had begun into reports that employees at the plume site were working without the proper protective gear. Rodriguez emphatically refused to disclose any details about OSHA’s activities at the plume site, but said the results of the investigation would be made public once it is completed. The investigation could take as long as six months, he said…

Meanwhile, a trio of men told the Post Independent this week they fear they have been poisoned from benzene exposure during weeks of work on the hydrocarbon spill…

The three workers all said no breathing devices were distributed to prevent the workers from breathing in fumes from the hydrocarbons.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Forecast news: Potential strong storm for the central Rockies Tuesday-Wednesday #COdrought

From the National Weather Service Pueblo office:

After a warm spring weekend, another strong spring storm will take aim at the central Rockies Tuesday and Wednesday next week. Depending on the track of the storm, it could bring enough cold air with it to drop some snow on parts of southeast Colorado. However, if the storm tracks too far north, it could just mean more wind for the plains. There is a lot of inherent uncertainty this far out, so stay tuned for the latest updates on this potential storm.

From the National Weather Service Grand Junction office:

A fast moving disturbance brings scattered rain and snow showers across the western Colorado mountains, with a few light showers passing over the mountain valleys. On Saturday, winds will increase and become gusty ahead of a strong cold front. This cold front will bring more rain and snow showers to the western slope by Saturday night. This cold front will sit across Utah and Colorado for a few days next week and will bring more precipitation, colder temperatures and occasional gusty winds.

Snowpack/drought news: ‘Snowpack is not good. Reservoir carryover is not good’ — Tom Perkins #CODrought

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Click on the thumbnail graphics for the current Colorado statewide snowpack map (NRCS), the current U.S. Drought Monitor map and the most recent drought forecast map from the Climate Prediction Center.

From the North Forty News:

April streamflow forecasts show a decline in parts of every Western state and most basins, according to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service water and climate experts.

NRCS hydrologists predict reduced spring and summer water supply for much of the West.

This month’s forecast is especially important because there probably won’t be significant snow accumulation after April 1, according to hydrologist Tom Perkins.

“April is usually the endgame. We’re not likely to make up this deficit. Snowpack is not good. Reservoir carryover is not good,” said Perkins.

Although other parts of the country got more snow, it didn’t have impact in the western mountains, he said.

“What fell in the West didn’t really amount to much,” Perkins said. “New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado are especially vulnerable because their reservoirs are at low levels due to sustained drought conditions.”

Water resource managers face difficult decisions due to this shortage, he said. Western states should prepare for potentially increased vulnerability to forest and rangeland fires and mandatory water restrictions. In addition, wildlife that depends on surface water is going to suffer.

There are a few exceptions to the dry forecasts. The North Cascades – including Washington and Western Oregon – and the headwaters of the Missouri and Columbia Rivers are near normal. “For the rest of the West,” Perkins said, “there is no silver lining. I think it’s going to be a long, hot, dry summer.”

According to NRCS Meteorologist Jan Curtis, most Western snowpacks peaked two to three weeks early this season and are now in decline. The best scenario would be for those snowpacks to melt slowly, providing a steady water supply through the spring and summer. This seems unlikely, given the above-average temperatures forecasted for the spring and summer.

“Although NRCS’ streamflow forecasts do not predict drought, they provide valuable information about future water supply in states where snowmelt accounts for the majority of seasonal runoff,” according to Perkins.

In addition to precipitation, streamflow in the West consists largely of accumulated mountain snow that melts and flows into streams as temperatures warm into spring and summer.

The April forecast is the fourth of six monthly forecasts issued each year between January and June by the national center. The forecast compares the current level of water content in snowpack in the 13 Western states with historical data to help the region’s farmers, ranchers, water managers, communities and other stakeholders make informed decisions about water use and future availability.

The snowfall, air temperature and numerous other factors taken from remote climate sites ultimately contribute to water supply. Now that Western snowpacks have peaked, the Governor’s Drought Task Force of each Western state will begin meeting to discuss drought preparations.

NRCS will continue to monitor levels across the Western states to provide the most up-to-date water supply information each month. The next two forecasts will measure rate of snowmelt and refine streamflow predictions.

“USDA streamflow forecasts play a vital role in the livelihood of many Americans,” said Jason Weller, NRCS acting chief. “With much of this region greatly affected by drought, our experts will continue to monitor snowpack data and ensure that NRCS is ready to help landowners plan and prepare for water supply conditions.”

Since 1935, NRCS has conducted snow surveys and issued regular water supply forecasts. NRCS installs, operates and maintains an extensive, automated system called Snow Telemetry, or SNOTEL, designed to collect snowpack and related climatic data in the Western United States and Alaska.

View April’s Snow Survey Water Supply Forecast map or view information by state.

Other resources on drought include the U.S. Drought Monitor and U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook map, which forecast drought conditions through March 31. For information on USDA’s drought efforts, visit http://www.usda.gov/drought. And to learn more about how NRCS is helping private landowners deal with drought, visit the NRCS site.

From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Tom Hacker):

State climatologist Nolan Doesken, in his 36th year of tracking data, told his Loveland audience the record shows “spring matters.” And this spring, so far, holds some hope that a second consecutive year of drought in Northern Colorado might ease slightly. “I’m actually optimistic about this year,” Doesken said at the annual spring water users meeting hosted by Northern Water, the agency that distributes water to nearly a million people and almost 700,000 acres of Colorado farmland. “I’m not wildly optimistic. But there is snow falling, and actually quite a bit of it.”

Doesken said spring can make or break the water year for farmers and municipal water providers, and that this one is measuring up to lessen the effects of a drought that still will have the state in its grip. “Spring precipitation does two things for us,” he said. “It adds to supply, and it takes away from demand. We get a double whammy.”

From Grand Valley DRIP:

The snow survey taken on April 3 in the City of Grand Junction’s watershed on the Grand Mesa is showing a slight drop from the averages of this time of year in snow depth and water content. The snow depth is showing 83% of average for this time of year, and water content is 88% of average.

The full results of the survey can be found at: http://www.gjcity.org/WaterSupply.aspx

Winter weather is not quite over yet, as evidenced by the snowstorms that moved through the state yesterday. The cold temperatures have also helped delay the spring snowmelt, unlike last year’s unusually early and warm spring.

However, the entire Grand Valley remains in a Stage 1 Drought, with voluntary watering restrictions in place. Water has begun filling the canals and laterals, and some homeowners have even begun watering their lawns. If you can delay your watering until the temperatures heat up, you can also avoid frozen sprinkler lines when the temperatures drop below freezing as they did the last two nights.

From the Tri-Lakes Tribune (Lisa Collacott):

Colorado Springs City Council approved “stage two” of the Water Shortage Ordinance for Colorado Springs Utility customers and because Donala has a contract for water transfer through the Northgate connection, Donala customers are required to comply with the twice a week irrigation schedule. Donala has their own watering standards program. Customers have been on restrictions for the past couple of years with mandatory watering limits to three times per week from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The new schedule limits users to two days a week, putting Donala at “stage three,” beginning April 1…

The water district will follow an odd-even program. Odd day users can water on Monday and Friday, and even day users can water Tuesday and Saturday. There is no watering on Sunday. Customers can still use a hose to water plants, shrubs and trees as long as the hose has a positive shut-off nozzle which shuts the hose off when not in use.

From the Englewood Herald (Tom Munds):

Englewood residents won’t face mandatory lawn watering restrictions this summer but are urged to follow conservation measures…

The city’s plentiful raw-water supply is due in large part to the efforts of Englewood Mayor Charles Allen and water attorney Mark Shivers in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when the city began planning its water system. That was when city officials purchased senior water rights that are the foundation of Englewood’s supply of raw water. Over the years, Englewood has continued to secure valuable water rights. In 1987, the water utility spent about $200,000 on water-attorney fees in successful court actions to secure about 1,400 acre-feet of water. Fonda said the lawyer fees in this case were a good investment when the going price for water rights then was about $10,000 an acre-foot…

Englewood purchased land and built McClellan Reservoir in 1965. It is a major water-storage location for the city. In addition, Englewood has agreements for Denver to store water and release it as requested. The sufficient raw water supply also makes it possible for Englewood to meet the threshold of the water sales contract with Centennial Water District, which supplies water to Highlands Ranch. Fonda said the threshold is delivery of about 1,800 acre-feet of water to Centennial Water District, which brings about $1.8 million in revenue to the city. He said it would hurt the city financially if Englewood was not able to meet the water sales contract…

The effort to have customers switch from flat rate to meters began in 1985. “We find water use declines about 30 percent when a customer is on a meter,” Fonda said. “We now have about 80 percent of our customers on water meters.” The city installs a meter at a customer’s request or when a home is sold, installing about 300 meters a year.

From the Estes Park Trail (John Cordsen):

“At this time, we do not foresee the need for mandatory water restrictions,” said Reuben Bergsten, Utilities Director, Town of Estes Park. “If drought conditions warrant, we may request voluntary conservation efforts. Based on our experience during the 2002 drought, this was effective.”[…]

The water problem starts with the lack of snow in the high country. The recent snow aside, reporting areas west of Estes Park are drastically below historical levels. Through March, sites in the Big Thompson River watershed in Rocky Mountain National Park are close to being parched, with water equivalents ranging from a low of 30 percent of the 30-year average to 61 percent of the 30-year average. They are also well below the 2012 totals, which were also down.

The Deer Ridge Junction was just 30 percent of the 30-year average for water content in the sparse snow. The average snow depth at this junction not far from the Beaver Meadows entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park was a scant 6 inches. This translated out to 1.3 inches of moisture. The 30-year average is 4.4 inches of moisture in the March readings. Bear Lake was on the other end of the spectrum with an average snow depth of 40 inches, which equates to 10.1 inches of moisture, or 61 percent of the 30-year average.

From the Associated Press via The Denver Post:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved new designations allowing farmers and ranchers around the West, including nine Colorado counties, to seek federal aid to get through the drought. All but a handful of Colorado’s 64 counties have been designated this crop year as either primary natural disaster areas due to drought or as contiguous to those counties. The USDA on Wednesday approved contiguous county designations for Jackson, Larimer, Logan, Moffat, Phillips, Routt, Sedgwick, Weld and Yuma counties, making producers there eligible to be considered for emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency.

2013 Colorado legislation: HB13-1248 passes the state House unanimously #COleg

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Another bill that seeks to ease the way for cities to lease water from farms is moving to the Senate. The state House unanimously passed a bill Thursday that would allow the Colorado Water Conservation Board to oversee up to 10 pilot programs to determine how other water rights could be affected.

“It would be another method to look at alternative ag transfers to see what works and what doesn’t,” said Alan Hamel, Arkansas River basin representative on the CWCB. “This is something on everyone’s mind in the third year of drought.” HB1248 would allow temporary transfer of water for only three years out of a 10-year period and prohibits any movement of water over the Continental Divide or out of the Rio Grande basin. It would allow transfers between the Arkansas and South Platte basins. The bill also limits fallowing to 30 percent of any farm.

The CWCB has supported several programs to weigh the impacts of transfers proposed by the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch, and this legislation furthers those efforts, Hamel said. “The CWCB supported it at last month’s meeting, and we’re excited about it,” Hamel said. “Ultimately, it could reduce costs when a change of use case goes to water court.” The bill moves to the Senate agriculture committee, whose chairman Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, is sponsor of the bill. House ag committee chairman Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, is the House sponsor.

The Senate committee Thursday postponed action on HB1130, which is supported by Aurora and some Arkansas Valley farmers. That bill would give the state engineer authority over water transfers for a 30-year period. Opponents of HB1130 say it bypasses water courts for too long a time period.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.

Water court: Subdistrict No. 1 pumpers can claim water from Reclamation’s Closed Basin Project

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

A water court judge ruled Wednesday that groundwater irrigators in the north-central San Luis Valley can claim water from a federal reclamation project to offset their pumping. The 45-page order from Judge Pattie Swift allows Subdistrict No. 1 to claim water from the Closed Basin Project, which pumps groundwater from the east side of the valley and sends it to the Rio Grande.

Objectors, which included five parties, argued, among other points, that the use of water from the project injured surface rights owners who were dependent on the Rio Grande and its tributaries.

Swift’s order said the project developed and delivered water to the Rio Grande that would have otherwise never made it to the river. “Thus the court cannot presume that pumping the Closed Basin Project wells causes injury to senior surface water rights,” the ruling said.

The subdistrict, which takes in more than 3,000 irrigation wells in the north-central valley, was created primarily to replace depletions to the river caused by pumping. The subdistrict purchased and leased over 10,000 acre-feet in 2012, including the Closed Basin Project water, and was ordered by the state engineer to return 4,724 acre-feet to the river.

In this year’s annual replacement plan, the subdistrict has again proposed using up to 2,500 acre-feet from the project toward its replacement obligations, although the proposal still requires approval of the state engineer.

More San Luis Valley groundwater coverage here and here.

2013 Colorado legislation: ‘I think it’s important for the state to tell the feds to stay out of our business’ — Jerry Sonnenberg

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From The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel) via Cortez Journal:

Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, said he expects his House Bill 1013 to die without a vote in May, when the Legislature adjourns for the year. His bill would have forbid the Forest Service from demanding that ski areas sign over their water rights in return for approval of their permits to operate on federal land. “I think it’s important for the state to tell the feds to stay out of our business,” Sonnenberg said.

Colorado law allows water right holders to sell the right to whomever they choose. But the Forest Service wants to make sure water used for snowmaking doesn’t get sold to condo developers or others who would use it for purposes other than skiing. “We’re committed to the long-term health of recreational opportunities and economic opportunities that the ski resorts provide for Colorado,” said Chris Strebig, spokesman for the Forest Service’s regional office in Golden.

But Sonnenberg’s bill would have amended Colorado water law to forbid the U.S. government from requiring anyone to surrender their water rights in order to get a land-use permit.

Legislators got calls urging them to kill the bill from Harris Sherman, who is the undersecretary of agriculture and the federal official who oversees the Forest Service. Many legislators know Sherman personally, because he directed the state Department of Natural Resources before he went to Washington…

Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, opposes Sonnenberg’s bill, which she thinks oversteps the state’s authority. “It’s a state law on what the federal government can do on a special use permit or lease on federal land. I don’t think Colorado has the power to pass a law to that effect,” Levy said.

Legislators worked out a deal, which both Levy and Sonnenberg confirmed: The House will vote on a symbolic resolution that disapproves of the Forest Service’s practice on water rights, but Sonnenberg’s bill will “die on the calendar” – legislative slang for being killed without a vote on the last day of the year.

From The Denver Post:

The U.S. Forest Service has scheduled public meetings next week as it works to craft a rule addressing ski resorts and water.

Dozens of resorts with permits to operate on national forests have bought or acquired rights to use nearby bodies of water for snowmaking. The Forest Service had adopted a clause that said those resorts had to transfer their water rights to the federal government, so that the water rights would stay with the land. After the National Ski Areas Association sued, a judge ruled last year that the agency violated procedure in not seeking public comment before adopting the clause.

The agency now plans open houses April 16 in Lakewood, Colo., on April 17 in Salt Lake City, and April 18 in Lake Tahoe, Calif., to get input.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.

[Drought] ‘It’s this slow, creeping death by 1,000 cuts’ — Chris Kraft #COdrought #ColoradoRiver

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From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Steve Lynn):

A record crowd of 250 people attended the spring meeting of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District at the Ranch in Loveland. Farmers pleaded with Northern Water officials for at least 70 percent of their share of water from the Colorado-Big Thompson Project…

“The worst thing in the world for agriculture is a drought, which we’re in right now,” said Chris Kraft, a Fort Morgan dairy farmer. “It’s this slow, creeping death by 1,000 cuts.”

Northern Water board members are scheduled to decide Friday how much water they will distribute. Northern Water provides water to portions of eight counties with a population of 850,000 people and serves more than 640,000 acres of irrigated farm and ranch land. Farmers use about two thirds of the water coming from the project while cities use one third, while cities use one third, Northern Water spokesman Brian Werner said…

…Eric Wilkinson, Northern Water’s general manager, said that this year would mark the second time in the water wholesaler’s history that it would base its quota on “availability” of water rather than “need.”

Officials from several Northern Colorado cities argued at Thursday’s meeting that a quota of any more than 50 or 60 percent would overextend the already scarce resource. Donnie Dustin, the city of Fort Collins’ water resources manager, believes the city will face having a lower quota in future years if Northern Water adopts more than a 60 percent quota. However, Fort Collins doesn’t want Northern Water to go too low. The city would have to pass further water restrictions if Northern Water adopted a 50 percent quota, Dustin said…

Farmers contend that a 60 percent quota will mean planting fewer fields with crops that use more water, such as corn. That will have consequences for Weld County’s dairy industry, they say. “We got so many dairies in this country,” said Bill Markham, who farms corn, barley and sugar beets in Berthoud. “I don’t know where they’re going to get their feed.”

Kraft said a lower water quota would lead him to downsize his dairy farm. “If we don’t get the feed we need, we have to sell animals,” he said. “We’ll be shrinking down.”

From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

For only the second time in 56 years, the quota set for the Colorado-Big Thompson Project will be limited by how little water is available, rather than based on the demands of the region. After hearing suggestions from its water users Thursday, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s board of directors will set a quota for the C-BT Project today to determine how much water will be released this year from the system — which, with its 12 reservoirs, is the largest water supply project in the region. But, because reservoir levels are low and snowpack in the mountains is limited, the board will be restricted in how much water it can allow farmers and cities to use in 2013.

In nearly all years, the board can set a quota of 100 percent — although it rarely does — and still have at least some water in storage for the following years. But this year, a quota of 87 percent would deplete everything in the C-BT Project’s reservoirs, according to Brian Werner, a spokesman and historian with Northern Water. And the limited runoff from this year’s meager snowpack isn’t going help much, Werner added. The only other year the board has been so limited in the quota it could set was 2003 — following the historic drought year of 2002, said Werner, who’s been with Northern Water for more than 30 years.

Although C-BT water is limited this year, it’s still needed — particularly by farmers, many of whom cut back on production last year while battling drought, and fear they’ll have to plant even fewer acres this year because of the water shortages.

The historic predicament now facing the 12-member Northern Water board was brought on by the combination of continued drought, the board setting a historically high C-BT quota last year, the expectation of more dry weather, and because the region’s water demands are continually growing due to increased population, according to some of the experts who spoke at Thursday’s water users meeting. And, as water demands have increased, the availability of stored water hasn’t kept pace, added Werner.

Since the C-BT project went into use in 1957, the Northern Water board has set a quota every year in April to balance how much water could be used through the upcoming growing season and how much water needed to stay in storage for future years. The historic average for the C-BT quota has been just above 70 percent, according to Werner. A 70-percent quota means that for every acre-foot of water a C-BT shareholder owns, they’ll get 70 percent of an acre-foot to use throughout the year. An acre-foot is approximately 326,000 gallons of water.

Differences of opinion

Before setting its quota each year, the board takes suggestions from its water users. Thursday’s water users meeting drew about 250 people — a record-high attendance for Northern Water’s April meeting, Werner said. At the meeting, officials from local cities generally pushed for a quota of about 50-60 percent, wanting to keep it relatively low and save as much water as possible for the future. However, many farmers in attendance — who either are or will soon be planting crops, and need to know soon how much water they’ll have for the growing season — asked for a quota of about 70 percent.

The difference between a 50 percent water quota and a 70 percent quota amounts to more than 20 billion gallons of available water to northern Colorado.

Farmers said they’ll need as much water as possible to raise their crops and the feed needed by the region’s many dairies and feedlots. Many are worried that cutting back on planting again this year will have a negative trickle-down impact on the region’s overall economy — especially in Weld County, where agriculture is a $1.5 billion contributor. Each year, about two-thirds of the C-BT Project’s water goes to agriculture uses, but farmers and ranchers only own 34 percent of the water. To make up that gap, farmers and ranchers lease water from cities. However, because of the water shortages, many cities have said it’s unlikely they’ll have any extra water available in 2013.

Water officials from Greeley and Fort Collins said this would be the first time in about 10 years — dating back to 2003 — that they wouldn’t be able to lease extra water to local agricultural users. “You can get a flavor for the dilemma our board is in,” Eric Wilkenson, general manager of Northern Water, said to the crowd after hearing comments from concerned water users. But, with the C-BT’s overall reservoir levels 27 percent below average as of April 1, and snowpack in South Platte Basin 29 percent below average on Thursday and 24 percent below average in the Colorado River Basin, the Northern Water board can only do so much.

C-BT water flows to more than 640,000 acres of irrigated farm and ranch land and about 860,000 people in portions of eight counties, according to Northern Water numbers.

Last April, concerns for farmers led the board to declare a 90 percent quota for C-BT water, the highest set in April since 1977. As drought persisted, the Northern Water board increased the C-BT water quota to 100 percent in May. The board could set that quota then because reservoir levels were high, due to above-average snowpack in previous years. With last year’s heavy water usage, reservoir levels dropped and are now expected to stay low since little snow has accumulated in the mountains.

More Northern Colorado Water Conservancy coverage here and here.