#Runoff/#Snowpack news: In the #AnimasRiver Valley highs in the 60s and plenty of solar radiation have kicked off the snowmelt season

Screen shot of the USGS Water Watch streamflow map for Colorado March 30, 2019.

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

A water gauge on the Animas River near the Powerhouse Science Center saw levels rise from 300 cubic feet per second Monday to more than 700 cfs as of Friday afternoon.

Water levels came close, but not close enough, to a previous high for March 29 set in 1916 of 1,100 cfs. The water gauge near the Powerhouse has 108 years of records.

Throughout the past week, daytime highs have lingered in the mid-60s, prompting the first round of snowmelt and runoff…

But early next week, Kormos said temperatures will rise once again, and the river along with it. By late next week, the center calls for the Animas River to exceed 1,000 cfs, though Kormos noted forecasts that far out are difficult to predict.

According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Animas, Dolores, San Juan and San Miguel river basins are at 161 percent of historic, normal averages as of Wednesday, the latest available data. Those snow totals, however, are taken from weather stations placed in high elevations…

The rise in water and promise of a sustained spring runoff is a welcome sight to members of the boating community, especially after one of the lowest water years on record in 2018.

#SaltonSea: “It is a disaster in the making, yet it is an afterthought’ — The Los Angeles Times #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Here’s an editorial from The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

California’s largest internal body of water is steadily drying up, exposing a lake bed that threatens to trigger toxic dust storms and exacerbate already high levels of asthma and other respiratory diseases in Southern California.

Yet there is something about the Salton Sea that leads many lawmakers to ignore the urgency and put off remediation programs. It’s just so far south — off the mental map of officials who represent more densely populated urban areas to the north, like Los Angeles. It is hydrologically unconnected to the Bay Area and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, which supplies water for so much of the state’s agricultural and residential use. It is a disaster in the making, yet it is an afterthought.

That attitude is understandably galling to residents of the adjacent Imperial Valley, who are (for now) the ones most affected by the increasing dust and who have witnessed firsthand the degrading ecological conditions. They have heard officials promise repeatedly to fix this catastrophe by creating wetlands that moisten the exposed bed and sustain an ecosystem that continues to support migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway. They have repeatedly seen those promises broken.

The dimensions of the failure were for many years merely theoretical, but they became real in the winter just past. As the rain and snow washed away drought and at least temporarily diminished environmental problems in the rest of the state, the contraction of the Salton Sea accelerated. Increasing salinity kept the lake from sustaining even the salt-hardy tilapia. The birds failed to appear…

That leaves a shrinking lake, lots of broken promises and a looming disaster. Both California and the feds have to do better than this — especially if they want to encourage agreements such as the one that makes Imperial Valley farmers more water-wise while keeping San Diego residents from deep rationing. The Salton Sea is not going away, even if it goes away. It can become a wetland and wildlife preserve, or it can become — if we let it — a health and ecological catastrophe.