Snowpack news (% of average): South Platte = 147%, best in state #COdrought

Mage at the NRCS has been busy. Click on a thumbnail to view the gallery of graphics.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A better water supply outlook should make more water available for Arkansas Valley farmers this year, but the details still are being worked out. The Pueblo Board of Water Works, which generally leases the most water on the spot market, heard a favorable snowpack report Tuesday, but still is weighing its options.

“We will be looking at those options in the next 30 days,” said Terry Book, executive director of the Pueblo water board.

Specifically, the water board wants to find out how many of those who have asked for long-term contracts (more than one year) are serious. That will determine how much of this year’s pool of water could be leased, said Alan Ward, water resources manager.

Pueblo’s water supply should be ample this year because snowpack is expected to easily reach average peak levels this year. Right now, snowpack in the Arkansas River basin is 110 percent of median, and 182 percent of last year. In the Colorado River basin, from which much of Pueblo’s water is imported, levels are at 131 percent of median. Even better news, for Pueblo at least, is that in the headwaters of the Arkansas River and in the Upper Colorado snow levels are at 150 percent of average.

“It’s looking good for us, as well as for the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project,” Ward said.

Snowpack in the southern mountains which feed the Purgatoire River and Rio Grande are much lower, as recent storms have tracked mainly through the northern part of the state.

The water board typically leased 10,000-20,000 acre-feet of water on the spot market, but held off in 2013 because of continuing drought conditions. The long-term contracts are typically more than three times the rate for the spot market and provide more certainty of revenue for the water board. The downside is that when water is not available, long-term contracts might have to be suspended. The water board had nearly 37,000 acre-feet of water in storage at the end of January, up by about 10,000 acre-feet from last year at the same time.

From the Summit Business Journal (Robin Smith):

Shades of 2008 and 1980’s Big Wednesday – for once, weather forecasts corresponded with the snow amount smothering Aspen/Snowmass residents’ walkways and balconies, as over 30 inches accumulated in the last two days [January 29-30].

The initial 15-30 inch prediction was originally viewed as a jinx against any significant snowfall, particularly when Thursday morning dawned with only 2-6 inches on the slopes. However, the storm hunkered down and by twilight, 15 inches were verified. Out came the shovels and snow blowers – and out they came again today, as another 18 inches greeted the sunrise.

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