#ElNiño: The latest ENSO diagnostic discussion is hot off the presses

Mid-February 2016 plume of ENSO predictions via the Climate Prediction Center.
Mid-February 2016 plume of ENSO predictions via the Climate Prediction Center.

Click here to read the latest diagnostic discussion. Here’s an excerpt:

ENSO Alert System Status: El Niño Advisory

Synopsis: A transition to ENSO-neutral is likely during late Northern Hemisphere spring or early summer 2016, with close to a 50% chance for La Niña conditions to develop by the fall.

Sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies decreased across most of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during February. The latest Niño-3.4 and Niño-3 weekly values were near 2°C, while the Niño-4 and Niño-1+2 indices were 1°C and 1.4°C respectively. The subsurface temperature anomalies in the central and eastern Pacific decreased substantially in association with the eastward shift of below-average temperatures at depth. Low-level westerly wind anomalies and upper-level easterly wind anomalies continued, but were weaker relative to January. The traditional and equatorial Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) remained strongly negative. In addition, convection was much enhanced over the central and east-central tropical Pacific and suppressed over parts of Indonesia and northern Australia. Collectively, these anomalies reflect the continuation of a strong El Niño.

All models indicate that El Niño will weaken, with a transition to ENSO-neutral likely during the late spring or early summer 2016. Thereafter, the chance of La Niña conditions increases into the fall. While there is both model and physical support for La Niña following a strong El Niño, considerable uncertainty remains. A transition to ENSO-neutral is likely during late Northern Hemisphere spring or early summer 2016, with close to a 50% chance for La Niña conditions to develop by the fall (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome for each 3-month period).

El Niño has already produced significant global impacts and is expected to affect temperature and precipitation patterns across the United States during the upcoming months (the 3-month seasonal outlook will be updated on Thursday March 17th). The seasonal outlooks for March – May indicate an increased likelihood of above-median precipitation across the southern tier of the United States, and below-median precipitation over the Midwest and part of Pacific Northwest. Above-average temperatures are favored across the North and West, with below-average temperatures favored in the south-central region.

#Snowpack news

Westwide SNOTEL March 10, 2016 via the NRCS
Westwide SNOTEL March 10, 2016 via the NRCS

From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

Snowpack in the Rio Grande Basin has slipped below normal, Colorado Division of Water Resources Staff Engineer Pat McDermott told water leaders Tuesday afternoon in Alamosa.

“We are well above last year,” he said, “but we have dipped below average.”

He told members of the Rio Grande Roundtable that the basin has not had much snow since February 23 and only had two substantial snowfalls in February.

El Niño is not expected to bring much more moisture this month, he added, but perhaps April and May will be wetter months. He said the forecast for April through June predicts above normal precipitation for this area, near normal precipitation in July and August and a “heat wave” into the fall, followed by a dry spell through the end of the year.

“I hope we get something here soon,” he said.

McDermott said the streamflow forecast has dropped significantly since the last report, with Saguache Creek runoff predicted at 106 percent, Rio Grande near Del Norte at 101 percent , Alamosa River above Terrace at 91 percent, Ute Creek 88 percent; Conejos near Mogote 93 percent and Culebra Creek 87 percent.

As far as the Rio Grande Compact, Colorado is in good standing with its downstream neighbors, having delivered more than required in 2015, McDermott reported. The exact amount of over delivery is still being worked out among the division engineers , he added. That will be part of the agenda for the annual compact meeting , which this year will be hosted by Alamosa on March 31. The Rio Grande Water Conservation District’s new building will be open by then and will host the compact meeting.

Endangered species will also be part of the discussion during the compact meeting, McDermott said.

For example, since the compact storage reservoir at Elephant Butte has seen such low water levels , Southwestern Willow Flycatchers have taken up residence there on the delta, so money is being spent now to find additional habitat where the birds can relocate when the reservoir fills up again.

McDermott said this side of the New Mexico border is providing ample habitat. This area is required to host 25 pairs of the tiny birds and is currently up to 60 pairs.

The fate of the silvery minnow is also a concern along the Rio Grande, McDermott said. He added that Colorado sent more water than it had to downstream to try to keep the minnow afloat, but it has been a struggle in New Mexico to keep the minnow’s habitat from drying up.

“It’s been a tough five years on the Rio Grande for the silvery minnow,” McDermott said.

From CBS Denver (Chris Spears):

In a report released Thursday morning the National Weather Service said that El Niño was in the process of weakening and could be over by early summer.

El Niño is a phenomenon where a warming of the waters in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean can have significant impacts on the global weather pattern…

Mother Nature was very generous to Colorado between November and January with a series of soggy storm systems that brought above average snowfall to both the mountains and the Front Range.

But a dry weather pattern that developed after a heavy snow in early February has prevailed for several weeks, causing mountain snowpack to dwindle and the eastern plains to dry out…

Some of the driest conditions can be found in the Arkansas River Valley east of Pueblo where pre-drought conditions are being experienced.

As of March 1 nearly 9% of Colorado was considered to be “abnormally dry” or in pre-drought. That number jumped to 14% by March 8.

It’s a similar story in the mountains where snow is lagging behind during the most important month for snow accumulation in the central Rockies…

Current long-range forecasts show the possibility of a weather maker by the middle to end of next week.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

That taste of spring that western Coloradans have enjoyed for the past few weeks has taken a toll on the state’s snowpack.

Blue skies and warm days have contributed to Colorado’s snowpack falling to below normal, at 98 percent of median as of Monday, according to Natural Resources Conservation Service data.

That comes after what had been a strong start for snowfall accumulation in the state in recent months. But a drier midwinter also was expected by forecasters as part of this year’s El Niño weather pattern. And the good news from a snowpack perspective is that the experts also believe the odds are that moister weather lies ahead this month and next based on past El Niño patterns.

“Right now it does look like that we are looking toward a change in (weather) pattern right around the seventh of March,” said Joe Ramey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

He said that in recent weeks, a ridge of high pressure west of Colorado has weakened storms coming in from the Pacific Ocean.

“We just get light snowfall in the mountains, if any,” he said.

That ridge is expected to remain in place this week, which reduced the amount of snowfall expected with the weather system that moved in on Monday. But Ramey said the ridge should then get pushed east, at least for a while, opening the door for more generous snowfall in the mountains by next Monday or so.

“It does look like we’re heading back to a shift toward more winter-like conditions now that everybody’s thinking about, I don’t know, golfing and gardening,” Ramey said.

Painful as a weather change might sound to some, it would provide a welcome boost for the state’s water supplies. Statewide snowpack is down 19 percentage points from 117 percent as of Feb. 2. The Colorado and Gunnison river basins were respectively at 116 and 122 percent of median then, but by Monday both had fallen to exactly 100 percent of median, with the Upper Rio Grande and South Platte basins also at that amount.

The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins dipped to 98 percent of median, the Yampa/White basins are at 93 percent, the North Platte is at 92 percent and the Arkansas is at 99 percent.

Colorado’s winter so far has been doing pretty well at following the script for El Niño winters, a reference to winters with weather dictated by above-normal water temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. That script called for an above-average start precipitation-wise in the state, followed by a below-average period and then a wet end to the snowfall accumulation season, if a strong El Niño persists long enough, which Ramey said it’s doing.

Ramey said he had expected the dry period to arrive in January, but it showed up a little later.

“We’re still thinking that March and April overall have a tendency to be wet during especially strong El Niños,” he said.

He said the weakened high-pressure ridge next week could even result in snow in the Grand Valley.

“It will be a marked change from what we’ve had in the past few weeks,” he said.

“Since all of us like to drink water and wash our dishes and water our lawns, it has to be a positive aspect for most folks.”

Ramey is uncertain how long the moister trend next week may last, however, pointing to signs that the high-pressure ridge to the west could rebuild beyond March 10 and lead to a drier pattern again.

Erik Knight, a hydrologist with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Western Colorado Area Office, said he’s expecting Blue Mesa Reservoir to fill this year.

“Some of that is based on hoping the storms return in March and April,” Knight said.

He said it has helped that recent problems and maintenance work at power plants downstream from the reservoir led to reduced water releases from the reservoir and let it carry more water through the winter.

As of Feb. 1, reservoir storage across the state was at 110 percent of average. Storage was at 108 percent of average in the Upper Colorado basin and 109 percent in the Gunnison basin.

Knight said that outside of a storm at the start of February, “things have been pretty dry, not a whole lot of extra snow accumulation up there” for the month.

“Now we’re just kind of banking on El Niño producing in March and April, and if it does we’ll be good and if it doesn’t we might struggle to fill the (Blue Mesa) reservoir,” he said.

All of the snowfall in Grand Junction in February came at the start of the month, including 4 inches on Feb. 1 and small amounts on Feb. 4 and 6, Ramey said. The 4.7 inches in total amounted to above-average overall snowfall for Grand Junction for February, he said.

Melanie Mollack, an employee at The Board & Buckle, a ski and bike shop in Grand Junction, said this winter season couldn’t have started off better in terms of snowfall at Powderhorn Mountain Resort.

Now, “it’s spring skiing. There’s still snow up on the mountains and as long as you understand there’s not been anything fresh, there’s still a great time to be had. There’s no bad snow, there’s just a bad attitude,” she said.

She said her store has continued to be busy, particularly on the gear rental side.

“It’s just been all hands on deck, really,” she said.

Looking forward, Mollack chooses to believe that more good snow is on its way, prior to the true spring ski season beginning.

“You have to just say, yes, it’s going to happen, and then it will happen for us,” she said.

However this El Niño winter turns out, Ramey says Coloradans can expect a different kind of winter next winter, with indications that a La Niña weather pattern will occur as water temperatures in the eastern Pacific shift to below-average temperatures.

Whereas El Niños typically result in above-average snowfall in the southern part of the state, La Niñas tilt the odds in favor of higher snowfall north of Interstate 70, which is good news for ski areas in places like Steamboat Springs and Winter Park.

But that’s getting ahead of things, with some pivotal months left in this year’s snowpack season.

“Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a wet spring,” Ramey said.

#Drought news: D0 expanded in SE #Colorado

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:


Early in the period, a ridge of high pressure over the Southwest directed Pacific storm systems into the Northwest, bringing persistent unsettled weather to Washington and Oregon but dry and warm weather further south. Meanwhile, an upper-air trough of low pressure over the East steered these Pacific storms southeastward across the Midwest which then tracked northeastward into New England. Since these systems were moisture-starved and moving rather fast, precipitation that fell on parts of the Southeast, Ohio Valley, and Northeast was mostly light. Later in the period, however, a change in the upper-air pattern allowed Pacific storm systems to move farther southward into California. This brought the state some badly-needed precipitation after rather dry and mild conditions the past 3 weeks caused a sharp decline in the Water Year-To-Date (WYTD) precipitation and snow pack that were both above-normal in early February. In the meanwhile, warmer and drier weather enveloped the eastern third of the Nation. As the period ended, the California storm began to impact the southern Plains. Showers and thunderstorms developed in north-central Texas and eastern Oklahoma late Monday, and expanded and intensified across the southern Plains and Delta after the 12 UTC (7 am EST) Tuesday Drought Monitor cutoff time. Therefore, the appropriate improvements in these two regions will be made next week. Weekly temperatures averaged above-normal in the West and Plains, and subnormal in the eastern third of the Nation. Light to moderate showers fell across Puerto Rico, while Alaska and Hawaii were quite dry. Unseasonably mild air persisted across Alaska – just like much of this winter…

Southern Plains

Similar to the lower Mississippi Valley, the first 6 days of the period were dry and warm, with temperatures averaging 6 to 12 degF above normal. By Day 7, however, the California storm system had just entered the southern Plains, and showers and thunderstorms rapidly developed in parts of central and northern Texas and eastern Oklahoma overnight Monday into Tuesday (March 8) morning. However, the only D0 area to be impacted (improved) by the Day 7 rains was in west-central Texas (near San Angelo and Abilene), with the other rainfall occurring over non-drought portions. With many tools showing short-term dryness at the 2- and 4-month time frames, and where no rain fell before the 12 UTC Tuesday, March 8 cutoff, D0 was expanded in eastern Texas (and into Louisiana), D1 was slightly increased in extreme south Texas (Starr and Hidalgo counties) – where no February rain was measured at McAllen, Harlingen, Brownsville, and Port Isabel – new and expanded D0 in the Panhandle (which extended northward into Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas), and a new D1 area in the northeastern Texas Panhandle (and northwestern Oklahoma)…

Central and Northern Plains

In association with the D0 and D1 in the Texas Panhandle and no Day 7 rainfall, short-term dryness (at 30-, 60-, and 90-days), unseasonable warmth, low humidity, and occasional gusty winds, plus with less residual moisture from the November and December storms, abnormal dryness was increased into southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, north-central Oklahoma and the Panhandle. A new D1 area was drawn in Roger Mills and Ellis Counties where 90-day percentages were 25-50% of normal. Although February was quite dry in eastern Kansas (and southwestern Missouri), reports on the ground indicated no issues yet. Examples included intermittent streams still flowing, full ponds, and running springs as residual moisture from November and December storms persisted.

Farther north, adjustments were made to the D0 and D1 areas in the Dakotas, western Minnesota, and eastern parts of Montana and Wyoming based upon short-term dryness (or wetness) at 60- and 90-day station data (ACIS) using percent of normal (PNP) and SPI, the lack of decent snow cover this winter, and the greatest positive temperature anomalies during these periods. In general, the consensus for D0 is more of a concern for limited soil moisture in the near future if the temperature and precipitation patterns persist. With respect to changes, D0 was extended southward into south-central North Dakota, across extreme northern South Dakota (where 90-day PNPs were below normal and temperatures well above normal), and west-central Minnesota (similar conditions to South Dakota). In contrast, the short-term indicators were wet in southeastern Montana and northeastern Wyoming, thus D0 was removed there…

Rockies, Intermountain West, and Southwest

In the northern Rockies, a reassessment and update of monthly tools (with February now in the books) indicated modifications were needed in most of western Montana, southeastern Washington, Idaho, eastern Oregon, and northeastern Nevada. A continued active winter weather pattern brought 1 to 2 inches of precipitation to northern and central Idaho, northwestern Montana, and parts of eastern Washington and Oregon, keeping WYTD basin average precipitation above normal, and basin average snow water content (SWC) near normal. In much of the northern Rockies, most river basins have achieved 80% of their annual peak snowpack, with snows still accumulating in the higher elevations, and lower elevation snows melting out and filling reservoirs. Therefore, a 1-category improvement was made in much of the northern Rockies. Some D1 and D2 was kept in basins with lower WYTD precipitation and SWC, such as southern part of Idaho’s Big Lost River basin, and D2 in northwestern Montana where WYTD basin average precipitation is 76% and SWC at 68%. In southern Idaho, recent rains have started the melt out in the Owhyee basin, and the Mountain Home irrigation district in Elmore County is seeing reservoirs filling that were completely dry for the past few years. To the west in north-central Oregon, continued wet weather (0.5-1.5 inches) has maintained above-normal WYTD precipitation and SWCs that continue to fill reservoirs, thus D1 was removed. No changes were made in the central Rockies and Intermountain West as most locations received light precipitation (0.5-1 inches), not enough for improvement but enough to hold off deterioration. The WYTD basin average precipitation and SWC in this area remained near to above normal.

In the Southwest, however, moisture from the Western storms failed to reach southeastern California, southern Nevada and Utah, and most of Arizona and New Mexico. 3-month SPEIs (December-February) were driest in southern California, southern Nevada, and most of Arizona and western New Mexico. Although WYTD basin average precipitation was near normal in central Arizona and western New Mexico, the SWC had dropped to near zero in some areas, and 10-25% elsewhere. To the north and west, however (e.g. southern Utah and Colorado, northern New Mexico), WYTD basin average precipitation was above normal, and basin average SWCs were close to or above normal. Accordingly, D2 was expanded into the Yuma, AZ area, D1 was extended eastward into extreme southeastern California and western Arizona, and D0 now covered most of Arizona. Impacts from the short-term dryness were difficult to find as much of this region is irrigated. As of Feb. 29, percent of average reservoir storage ranged from 81-89% in central Arizona, but only 27-32% in western New Mexico and southeastern Arizona…

The Far West

Early in the period, a series of storms dropped ample precipitation on the Pacific Northwest, but bypassed most of California. Fortunately, a change in the upper-air pattern around mid-week allowed the storms to shift southward, bringing welcome precipitation to all of California except the extreme southeastern sections (see Southwest). Most locations from western Washington southward to south-central California, including the Sierra Nevada and Cascades, received 3 to 6 inches, with 8 to 12 inches locally in the Olympic Peninsula, portions of coastal northern and central California, and the northern Sierras. While the precipitation was beneficial in California, dry and warm weather during the previous 3 weeks halted the normal increase in snow pack in the Sierras, stalled the accumulated WYTD precipitation, and decreased the normal inflow into streams and reservoirs. In addition, the storm was rather mild, with freezing levels above 8000 feet in the Sierras, and not the best for building snow packs in lower elevations. For example, after decent December and January precipitation and snowfall, the Feb. 2 northern, central, and southern Sierras, and the state SWCs (inches) stood at 22.7, 21.3, 16.4, and 20.2, respectively, or above normal (107-120%) for this day. By March 8 (after the storms), however, they stood at 22.5, 23.2, 19, and 21.8, respectively, or below normal (79-86%) for this day. With February normally one of the wettest months of the year in California, the state was primed to see big increases in the WYTD precipitation and snow pack, but instead those last 3 weeks of the month stalled or lowered these figures. Precipitation-wise, as of March 9, the northern, central (San Joaquin), and southern (Tulare basin) Sierra station indices rebounded back above normal, standing at 42.1 inches (115%), 31.9 inches (109%), and 22 inches (105%), respectively. More good news from the recent storm was that reservoir storages did increase from the heavy rains and snowmelt from the lower elevations. For example, selected reservoirs depict the differences between Feb. 1 versus March 8 historical averages/capacities (percent): Shasta 52/77 vs 68/90; Oroville 44/67 vs 61/86; Don Pedro 41/59 vs 50/70; San Luis 34/43 vs 45/52; Exchequer 14/29 vs 23/43. Reservoirs in the south, however, lost capacity as significant precipitation fell to the north (e.g. Castaic 34/41 vs 30/34; Perris 36/44 vs 34/41). Therefore, considering that this storm basically negated the decline caused by the prior 3 weeks of dryness and warmth, no changes were made this week. However, with the state now recharged with short-term moisture, any additional precipitation, especially from a colder system (e.g. lower elevation snows), should provide some improvement to the state, especially in northern and central areas…

Looking Ahead

During the next 5 days (March 10-14), an ongoing storm in the southern Plains and Delta (as of Wed., Mar. 9) is expected to slowly track northeastward, dumping heavy rains (more than 2 inches, locally to 10 inches in Louisiana) on the southern Plains, lower and middle Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio Valleys, and New England. This is expected to cause localized flooding in many parts of the Delta (and did in northern Louisiana Tuesday night). In the Far West, Pacific storm systems are forecast to drop heavy precipitation (8-14 inches) on western sections of Washington, Oregon, and northern and central California, including the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, with lesser totals (up to 4 inches) in the northern Rockies. In addition, temperatures should be much lower with this set of storms as compared to the early March storm, producing more snow for the Cascades and Sierra Nevada. Unfortunately, little or no precipitation is expected in-between these two large events (Southwest, central and southern Rockies, northern and central High Plains). Temperatures will also average well above normal from the Rockies eastward.

For days 6-10 (March 15-19), the odds favor above median precipitation in the Rockies, northern Plains, eastern half of the Nation (except southern Florida), and southern Alaska. Below median precipitation probabilities were found in the Far West, Southwest, south-central Plains, southern Florida, and northern Alaska. The eastern half of the U.S. and southern Alaska will see good chances for above normal temperatures, while near to below normal readings are likely in the West and northern Alaska.

#ColoradoRiver Flows Reduced by Warmer Spring Temps — @UofA

Here’s the release from the University of Arizona:

A UA-led study, the first to examine the instrumental historical record, discovers that temperature has played a larger role in streamflow and in exacerbating drought since the 1980s.

Warmer-than-average spring temperatures reduce upper Colorado River flows more than previously recognized, according to a new report from a University of Arizona-led team.

Although climate models have suggested that spring temperatures affect streamflow, this study is the first to examine the instrumental historical record to see if a temperature effect could be detected, said lead author Connie Woodhouse, a UA professor of geography and development and of dendrochronology.

“Forecasts of streamflow are largely based on precipitation,” Woodhouse said. “What we’re seeing since the 1980s is that temperature plays a larger role in streamflow and in exacerbating drought.”

The bulk of streamflow in the upper Colorado comes from snowpack. However, temperatures during the “runoff season” of March-July can have a significant impact on the amount of water that ends up in the river, the researchers found. The team studied the records of temperature, cool-season precipitation and streamflow for the years 1906 to 2012.

“In certain years temperature became a very strong influence. It was a bit of a surprise,” Woodhouse said. “If we have a warmer spring, we anticipate that the river flows will be less relative to the amount of snowpack.”

Seven Western states and Mexico use water from the Colorado River for agriculture and for cities. Major U.S. cities that use Colorado River water include Denver, Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego.

The team’s paper, “Increasing Influence of Air Temperature on Upper Colorado River Streamflow,” is scheduled for online publication in Geophysical Research Letters today at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL067613/full.

Woodhouse’s co-authors are Gregory Pederson of the U.S. Geological Survey in Bozeman, Montana; Kiyomi Morino of the UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research; Stephanie McAfee of the University of Nevada, Reno; and Gregory McCabe of the USGS in Denver. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Southwest Climate Science Center funded the research.

From her previous work with water managers in the region, Woodhouse knows they are interested in how temperature affects streamflow in the Colorado River.

She and her colleagues wanted to determine how Upper Colorado River Basin winter precipitation, March-July temperatures and November soil moisture levels influence annual streamflow at Lees Ferry, Arizona.

For each year from 1906 to 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation estimates natural upper Colorado River flow based on data recorded from streamgages at Lees Ferry. At that location, Colorado River streamflow reflects water that has drained from the upper basin, which includes Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico.

Using the streamflow data, the researchers identified six droughts that occurred in the Upper Colorado River Basin from 1906 to 2012. A drought was defined by consecutive years with below-average streamflow punctuated by no more than one year of normal or above-average flow.

The drought periods were: 1931-1940, 1950-1956, 1959-1969, 1972-1977, 1988-1996 and 2000-2012.

For average winter precipitation and March-July temperatures for the Upper Colorado River Basin, the research team turned to a database that provides climatological data at very high spatial resolution for locations all over the U.S. The database goes back more than 100 years.

Soil moisture records don’t exist very back far into the 20th century. Therefore, the team used a hydrologic model, which is based on modern observations, to generate annual averages for November soil moisture going back to 1906.

The team found November soil moisture had only a small effect on streamflow.

The researchers found that winter precipitation and average runoff-season temperatures varied from drought to drought.

“The 1950s was the driest period, but also the coolest,” Woodhouse said. “In contrast, the most recent drought of 2000 to 2012 was the warmest, but only moderately dry.”

If the temperatures during the runoff season — March to July — were cooler than average, streamflow was higher than expected on the basis of winter precipitation alone, the team found. However, when runoff-season temperatures were above average, streamflow was less than expected on the basis of winter precipitation.

During and since the 1980s, average Upper Colorado River Basin temperatures during the runoff season have been increasing.

“If we have a warmer spring, we can anticipate that the flows will be less relative to the amount of snowpack,” Woodhouse said. “What we’re seeing is not just the future — it’s actually now. That’s not something I say lightly.”

For at least the past decade, climate models have indicated that warming temperatures have an increasing effect in modulating streamflow, she said. The team’s findings, which are based on real, observed data, mirror the predictions of the climate models.

Glen Canyon Dam
Glen Canyon Dam

#Colorado Springs’ 1st Stormwater Project of 2016 — KKTV.com

Flooding in Colorado Springs June 6, 2012
Flooding in Colorado Springs June 6, 2012

From KKTV.com (Jessica Leicht):

Wednesday marked this year’s first stormwater project, a detention pond at Woodmen Road and Sand Creek.

Unlike a retention pond, detention ponds temporarily store excess storm water. This project should help prevent flooding — and stop sediment from going downstream and ending up in places like Pueblo.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said this is just the beginning of the city’s stormwater commitment.

Suthers said since the city did away with the stormwater enterprise six years ago, the city hasn’t been spending the amount of money it should be spending on stormwater projects.

The city said it plans to commit $445 million over the next 20 years to projects that will benefit the city and our downstream neighbors in Pueblo County.

“We have a responsibility as the city grows and creates more impervious surfaces that drain into our creek basins; we have a responsibility to make sure that doesn’t damage property here, or downstream,” Suthers said.

The detention pond project costs $3 million and is expected to be completed by June.

The city said it plans to spend $19 million this year on stormwater projects.