@ColoradoClimate: Weekly Climate, Water and #Drought Assessment of the Intermountain West

Upper Colorado River Basin month to date precipitation through April 24, 2017 via the Colorado Climate Center.

Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.

#Snowpack/#runoff news: Yampa Valley providers will institute watering restrictions this season

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map April 26, 2017 via the NRCS.

From the City of Steamboat Springs:

Water Providers Announce Mandatory Water Restrictions

With minimal precipitation, above average temperatures and runoff steadily increasing, coupled with a very dry February and March, the four districts which provide water to the Steamboat Springs area – Mt. Werner Water, City of Steamboat Springs, Steamboat II Metro District and Tree Haus Metro District – will institute mandatory stage 2 water restrictions starting May 1, 2017.

“Even with our recent moisture, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone,” said Frank Alfone, Mt. Werner Water District General Manager. “With lower than normal precipitation so far this year and a still fluctuating summer forecast, the early adoption of stage 2 restrictions and a conservative approach made sense for the conditions we’re seeing at this point.”

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center is still predicting average precipitation this summer with a good chance (40%) for above average temperatures. Steamboat depends upon a combination of natural flows and reservoir releases from the Fish Creek watershed to carry it through the summer, fall and winter.

“It’s good to see the return of rain and snow this week,” said Jon Snyder, Public Works Director for the City of Steamboat Springs. “However, we’ll need consistent and steady precipitation for the foreseeable future to move away from restrictions and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation over the coming months.”

Early implementation of Stage 2 watering schedule will also allow lawns, shrubs and trees to adapt early in the growing season and enables automatic systems to be set by landscapers, businesses and homeowners to the Stage 2 schedule right from the start of the season.

Through these restrictions and continued efforts by water users to reduce water demands, the community is able to strike a balance between conserving water supplies in the reservoirs and maintaining the riparian health of Fish Creek and the Yampa River.

Stage 2 water restrictions are in accordance with the Steamboat Springs Water Conservation Plan adopted in 2011 by the Steamboat Springs City Council and Board of Directors of Mt. Werner Water District. Stage 2 mandatory restrictions were most recently enacted in 2015, 2013 and 2012.

From Steamboat Today (Matt Stensland):

According to the Tower weather monitoring station at 10,500 feet on Buffalo Pass, 12 inches of snow had fallen by Tuesday morning.

The weather station on Rabbit Ears Pass at 9,400 measured 8 inches of new snow.

The town of Yampa had 5 inches of snow while Clark had 2 inches.

Ski areas still operating benefited with Winter Park receiving 7 inches of snow. Loveland Ski Area saw 5 inches.

The current snow depth on Buffalo Pass is 105 inches. That’s the equivalent of 41.8 inches of water.

On average for April 25, there is 49.3 inches of snow equivalent water at the Buffalo Pass monitoring station, meaning snowpack is 85 percent of average, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Historically, snowpack on Buffalo Pass peaks on May 9.

Snow depth on Rabbit Ears is 43 inches with the equivalent of 16.7 inches of water. The snowpack for Rabbit Ears is 65 percent of average.

The snowpack for the entire Yampa and White river basins was at 78 percent of average as of Tuesday.

Watershed: It’s not a building for storing water – News on TAP

Denver Water celebrates Arbor Day with a tribute to Mother Nature’s own water filtration process.

Source: Watershed: It’s not a building for storing water – News on TAP

Strategies for sustainable water management in the western U.S.

From Earth & Space Science News (Scott Tyler, Sudeep Chandra, and Gordon Grant):

Much of the landscape of the American West is under federal and state management, and the [20th Annual Lake Tahoe Summit] identified five key initiatives that the research community, in partnership with management agencies, could implement to improve water management:

  • Implement a new cross-agency/cross-disciplinary audit of monitoring networks. An examination of our existing research networks, including critical zone observatories, long-term ecological research sites, and other experimental forest and range sites, would help determine their sustainability and value in assessing how extreme climate events influence hydrology and ecology.
  • Integrate research programs to design resilient forests. Research should focus on reducing water stress, quantifying the water storage potential in snow and the subsurface, and incorporating emerging science on ecophysiology and mortality, climate variation, and climate change.
  • Implement a major program to advance hydrologic monitoring in the mountains of the western United States. Measurements should focus on precipitation, snowpack, evapotranspiration, soil moisture, and groundwater across the West.
  • Couple atmospheric, terrestrial, and marine observatory networks to improve prediction. Linking offshore measurements to the land at both regional and river basin scales would improve predictions of atmospheric rivers, drought, El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and other episodic events ranging from days to decades.
  • Target field campaigns using novel technologies. Novel technologies (i.e., new sensors, drones, and airborne platforms) can help assess and fill data gaps that currently limit the accurate understanding of water availability at all geographic scales.
  • The workshop concluded that it is time for a western-focused, integrated center to develop science- and social science–based solutions for addressing water scarcity and resilience to change in the West. Such a center would bring state-of-the-art scientific, engineering, and socioeconomic findings to bear on critical water issues in the context of public policy, planning, and socioeconomic trends. And now given the swing to flood conditions as we enter the spring of 2017, the need for resilience is even more pronounced.

    Loveland: CPW hopes to renew Lonetree Reservoir lease

    Lonetree Reservoir near Loveland, Colorado | Photo credit photokayaker via Flickr.

    From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

    Colorado Parks and Wildlife has leased the land around Lonetree Reservoir and the body of water itself for recreation as a state wildlife area for decades, at least back to the 1970s. The reservoir, south of Loveland, is a popular fishing and wildlife viewing spot.

    The current lease with Consolidated Home Supply Ditch and Reservoir Co.expires June 30, and officials with the state wildlife agency and the ditch company have been talking about the future and negotiating a new lease.

    Nothing has been firmed up, but at this point, it looks as though they will agree to a one-year extension to allow for further talks about fair lease rates and the length of any new lease, said Larry Rogstad, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife…

    The ditch company was formed in 1882 in Loveland to deliver water to farmers through a system of ditches and reservoirs in both Larimer and Weld counties. At least two of those, Lonetree and Boedecker, are leased to Colorado Parks and Wildlife as state wildlife areas.

    The lease at Boedecker expires in 2020, while the previous 20-year lease at Lonetree ended last June. The ditch company and the wildlife agency extended that for one year to continue negotiations and, according to Rogstad, it looks as though the same thing will happen this year.