@USBR expects above average #runoff on the #RioGrande through #NewMexico this Spring

The headwaters of the Rio Grande River in Colorado. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

Here’s the release from the Bureau of Reclamation:

Irrigators, municipalities, recreation community and the overall ecosystem of the Rio Grande will experience the benefits of an above average spring runoff this year. That’s according to the Annual Operating Plan based on above average snowpack in the mountains that feed the Rio Grande and its tributaries released today by the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s April streamflow forecast predicts that Rio Chama flow into El Vado Reservoir will be 142% of average, up from just 18% of average last year. This is a forecast inflow of approximately 320,000 acre-feet, up from 41,000 acre-feet at the same time last year. Rio Grande streamflow at Otowi Bridge is similarly predicted to be at 142% of average.

“This is a complete turnaround from last year when we were preparing for drying in the Middle Rio Grande in April,” said Reclamation’s Albuquerque Area Office Manager Jennifer Faler. “We are looking forward to a good spring runoff that will improve storage supplies and help the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow spawn. Reclamation will continue to work closely with our water management partners at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, State of New Mexico, Bureau of Indian Affairs and irrigation districts to manage the Rio Grande safely and efficiently through the summer.”

The Rio Grande is currently operating under the Rio Grande Compact’s Article VII restrictions. Under Article VII when the combined usable Rio Grande Project storage in Elephant Butte and Caballo is below 400,000 acre-feet, storage in upstream reservoirs, like El Vado, is only allowed under limited circumstances. Reclamation expects Article VII restrictions to end in mid-May for several months, allowing for storage in El Vado during that time. Elephant Butte and Caballo Reservoirs ended the last irrigation season holding less than 3% of their combined storage capacity. They are already rebounding and are currently holding more than 288,000 acre-feet or about 13% of capacity.

The Elephant Butte Irrigation District, El Paso County Water Improvement District Number One and Mexico plan to begin irrigation the first week in June. Reclamation will begin releasing water from Elephant Butte to Caballo Reservoir on May 3 in preparation for the irrigation season. Releases from Caballo will begin on May 31. The dry riverbed between Elephant Butte and Caballo and below Caballo will take on water quickly. As such, it will be both unpredictable and very dangerous. The public is asked to stay out of the river channel for their safety.

Governor Polis signs long bill (budget)

Colorado Capitol building

Here’s the From Governor Polis’ office:

Governor Jared Polis today signed SB 19-207, FY 2019-20 Long Bill, into law. He was joined by sponsors and Joint Budget Committee members Senator Dominick Moreno and Representative Daneya Esgar. The budget funds top priority items including free full-day kindergarten, saving people money on health care, and investments for water and transportation.

SB19-207 establishes an operating budget of $31.9 billion total funds of which $11.8 billion is General Fund.

“This budget lays a strong foundation for a bold vision for our state, creating opportunity for all,” Governor Polis said. “A product of collaboration and teamwork with Colorado’s leaders in the General Assembly, this budget ensures that our state’s economic success can be realized by every child, adult, and business in our communities. My top priority in this first year as Colorado’s 43rd Governor was to provide access to free, full-day kindergarten to every Colorado family. I am proud to say that this budget makes that vision a rapid reality, with funding now available for the school year that starts this fall.”

To read the FY 2019-20 Budget letter transmittal click here.

From the Associated Press via The Denver Post:

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has signed into law a $30.5 billion state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Colorado Politics reports Polis signed the document on Thursday, his 100th day in office.

The budget includes $175 million to offer free full-day kindergarten throughout the state, a top Polis priority.

Tuition at Colorado’s public colleges and universities won’t rise in the 2019-2020 school year. Transportation needs get an extra $300 million. And state employees will receive a 3% pay hike.