#Colorado #ColoradoRiver #runoff has peaked #COriver

Lake Powell April 12, 2017. Photo credit Patti Weeks via Earth Science Picture of the day.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

…officials expect Lake Powell to rise to 65 percent full, but that relatively high level won’t last long as the inflow into the reservoir will be sent downstream to Lake Mead and Mexico.

In all, Lake Powell is to release just under 9 million acre-feet of water downstream this year, or 7.5 million acre-feet to meet the terms of the 1922 Colorado River compact, and 750,000 acre-feet for Mexico under a 1944 treaty…

The high-runoff year ultimately won’t buy much insurance for the upper basin states, said Chris Treese, spokesman for the Colorado River Water Conservation District.

“It won’t make things worse,” Treese said. “We will continue to bump along about the 50 percent level” in Lake Powell.

While 9 million acre-feet amounts to a third of the capacity of Lake Powell, water continues to flow into the reservoir throughout the year, though well short of runoff levels.

The Bureau of Reclamation operates Lake Powell so as to keep enough pressure to generate electricity at Glen Canyon Dam. The dam’s eight turbines can produce up to 1,320 megawatts of electricity and the dam supplies power to 5.8 million customers.

The spring’s high runoff isn’t operationally significant, James Eklund, the former director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board who headed development of the Colorado water plan, said in an email.

From a strategic perspective, however, “it underscores that even in what seemed like a banner water year, we’re still a long way from recovery from the last 16-year dry spell” and highlights the need to keep enough water in Powell high enough to generate electricity, Eklund said.

From KOAA.com (Lena Howland):

The Arkansas River is expected to reach flood stage by the end of the night. That means it will be hitting right at seven feet, just starting to spill over the banks.

The National Weather Service in Pueblo says this is actually normal for this time of year and it’s something this area will see every spring.

The higher water levels are coming from spring runoff from places as high up as Leadville. Local hydrologists say this is also a result of more water that was released from Pueblo Reservoir on Wednesday morning.

“The Department of Water Resources is releasing water from the Pueblo Dam to match that flow coming in from up stream. This morning I believe they raised the flow several hundred feet per second, and that was just enough to push the Arkansas River at La Junta and at Avondale just above flood stage,” said Tony Anderson, a service hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Pueblo.

Minor flooding could start up as early as Wednesday night, but the good news is that it’s only expected to cause agricultural impacts. It’s not expected to affect any roads, homes or businesses at this point in time.

Flood warnings are expected to last through Friday in Avondale and through Sunday in La Junta.

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