The April 1, 2020 #Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report is hot off the presses from the NRCS

Click here to read the report. Here’s an excerpt:

#Colorado #Snowpack is Near Normal as Peak Accumulation Approaches — NRCS #runoff

Here’s the release from the NRCS (Brian Domonkos):

Despite below average precipitation across much of the state in March, Colorado’s snowpack is currently very near normal at 99 percent of median statewide. There is a south to north trend in snowpack with below normal snowpack across southern Colorado and above normal snowpack across the northern half of the state. The Gunnison, combined San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan, Rio Grande, and Arkansas basins have very similar snowpack amounts, near 90 percent of normal. The Colorado and combined Yampa and White River basins both have 104 percent of normal snowpack, right behind the North Platte at 106 percent of normal. The South Platte basin is holding the most substantial snowpack in the state at 110 percent of normal. NRCS Hydrologist Karl Wetlaufer notes “This is a very important time of the year when it comes to water resources because peak snowpack accumulation generally occurs in mid-April. Notable snowmelt has already been observed at a substantial amount of SNOTEL sites across the state”.

Colorado basin-filled snowpack map April 9, 2020 via the NRCS.

Despite a generally near normal snowpack, streamflow forecasts are mostly for lower values than would commonly be expected given snow amounts. These lower forecast values are the result of a very dry late summer and fall experienced by much of the state last year. “Those conditions led to very low soil moisture amounts going into the snow accumulation season, a deficit which will have to be replenished by melting snow and will likely reduce streamflow volumes.” Wetlaufer explains.

Reservoir storage has remained relatively steady over the last few months, with respect to normal. Only the Arkansas and Rio Grande basins in southern Colorado are currently holding below average storage volumes. Statewide reservoir storage is 107 percent of average.

While snow can certainly continue to accumulate in the high country this is a very pivotal part of the year when it comes to water resources. Much can still change over the coming months but it is an encouraging start to have near normal snowpack and reservoir conditions in most of the state. Now that substantial snowmelt is being observed at SNOTEL sites across the state it will be worth keeping a close eye on changing conditions given the dynamic nature of mountain weather conditions during the spring season.

For more detailed information about April 1 mountain snowpack refer to the April 1, 2020 Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report. For the most up to date information about Colorado snowpack and water supply related information, refer to the Colorado Snow Survey website.

Colorado River Basin Climate and Hydrology: State of the Science (2020) — Western Water Assessment #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Click here to go to the Western Water Assessment website to download the report:

Navigating a river of knowledge

In recent decades, increasing water demand, dry conditions, and warming temperatures have impacted the Colorado River, creating greater uncertainty about the future of the basin’s water supply. With support and guidance from over a dozen federal, state, and local water agencies, WWA researchers teamed up with leading experts to integrate nearly 800 peer-reviewed studies, agency reports, and other sources to assess the state of the science and technical practice relevant to water resources in the Colorado River Basin.

Colorado River Basin Climate and Hydrology: State of the Science aims to create a shared understanding of the physical setting and the latest data, tools, and research underpinning the management of Colorado River water resources. In identifying both challenges and opportunities, the report will guide water resource managers and researchers in efforts to improve the short-term and mid-term forecasts and long-term projections for the basin’s water system.

Editors and Lead Authors:

Jeff Lukas (WWA) and Elizabeth Payton (WWA)

Graphic credit: Western Water Assessment

Protecting farm labor during the COVID-19 pandemic — Purdue University

Photo credit: Purdue University

From Purdue University (Abby Leeds):

Maintaining a healthy farm workforce is more important than ever to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure a successful harvest. Purdue Extension recommends the following procedures to protect farm labor from COVID-19.

Farms should continue to enforce food safety best practices already in place such as proper hand-washing, monitoring for employees with symptoms of illness and training them on proper procedures if they experience any sickness.

It is imperative that growers review and follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. Guidelines include keeping workers at least six feet apart to comply with social distancing, frequent hand-washing, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and staying home if you are sick. If a task doesn’t allow for workers to maintain social distancing, farms could consider using personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect their workforce. Growers are encouraged to repurpose PPE that is already on the farm such as dust masks, face shields and nitrile gloves.

If possible, PPE must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after every use. PPE that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized should be designated for use by a single employee, and it should not be shared. Directions for sanitizing PPE can be found here.

Growers may also need to adjust transportation methods at the farm to maintain social distancing. If possible, workers should refrain from driving personal vehicles to production areas. If that is unavoidable, the farm needs to provide a designated parking area away from harvesting activities. All vehicles need to be cleaned and sanitized frequently.

Supervisors must continue to review and enforce proper hand-washing and educate workers on recognizing COVID-19 symptoms. A list of COVID-19 symptoms can be found here.

Finally, it is recommended that supervisors and owners monitor and document the health of their workforce. A daily health check could include asking workers prior to their shift if they are experiencing respiratory illness symptoms or using a touchless thermometer to take their temperature. Supervisors should use PPE to limit the spread of COVID-19 if they are within six feet of employees during these health checks.

“Our best chance for having a healthy labor force to bring in the crops at harvest time is to start at the beginning of the season by aggressively managing and monitoring the health of our workers,” said Scott Monroe, food safety extension educator for Purdue Extension.

Additional COVID-19 resources for produce growers can be found at Safe Produce Indiana and Purdue Extension.