Vail-area #snowpack is lagging behind averages — The Vail Daily #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

From The Vail Daily (Scott Miller):

The latest data from snow measurement sites on Vail Mountain, Copper Mountain — the nearest measurement site to Vail Pass — and Fremont Pass — the closest site to the headwaters of the Eagle River — shows snowpack is far below the 30-year averages.

The Vail Mountain site is at just 69% of the average “snow water equivalent” snowpack. Copper Mountain Mountain and Fremont Pass are better, but not by much.

Upper Colorado River River Basin High/Low graph January 14, 2021 via the NRCS.

Johnson noted that the snowpack at this point in the season was worse in 2012, 2013 and 2018. But, she added, this year so far makes four significant low-snow years since 2010. There have been several other drought years since 2000.

“This comes back to the aridification of Colorado and the Colorado River Basin,” Johnson said.

What that means is that the district — which serves the upper valley west to Edwards — has to continue to work to change customers’ behavior. That means being more efficient about outdoor watering and ultimately using less water for that purpose.

“We’re always reminding folks of where we live,” Johnson said, adding that this part of Colorado always has been a semi-arid zone…

“We need water in local streams, to take care of the community and to take care of those streams,” Johnson said. “The water in the streams is so important… we know already it’s going to be tough.”

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map January 19, 2021 via the NRCS.

No Pipe Dream, Save Rural NoCo Corp. and Save the Poudre challenge Larimer County’s #NISP decision in court — The Loveland Reporter-Herald

U.S. Highway 287 runs through the future site of Glade Reservoir. The Larimer county Board of County Commissioners approved the 1041 Land Use Permit for NISP in September, 2020. Photo credit: Northern Water

From The Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Johnson):

No Pipe Dream, Save Rural NoCo Corp. and Save the Poudre filed a lawsuit in 8th Judicial District Court last week against the county commissioners, naming former commissioners Tom Donnelly and Steve Johnson specifically, as well as the NISP Water Activity Enterprise.

The lawsuit asks the judge to reverse the decision to grant a 1041 permit for the project, throw it out or send it back to the Larimer County Board of Commissioners for a new hearing.

It targets Johnson and Donnelly, the two yes votes in a split decision, saying that both Republican commissioners, who have since left office, should not have voted on the permit because of a “decade-long” record of advocacy and support for the proposed reservoir project.

And the suit also offers 44 examples of why the organizations believe the permit exceeded the county’s jurisdiction or abused its discretion, ranging from decisions around streamflow to pipeline routes to the number of alternatives considered.

The suit claims that the commissioners did not adequately look at the overall picture of how the project would affect residents, the environment, wildlife and the Cache la Poudre River…

Jeff Stahla, spokesman for Northern Water, pointed out that county staff members and the nonpartisan appointed Larimer County Planning Commission recommended approval of the permit based on the county’s regulations and the specific criteria that county officials were required to consider.

“We’re confident that the strength of the entire permitting process, local, state and federal, will prevail,” said Stahla…

“Basically the lawsuit is total crap,” Johnson responded in a text message. “Tom (Donnelly) and I were no more biased in favor of the project than John (Kefalas) was biased against the project. But as we said in the hearing, we put aside all of our opinions of the project and commented completely and exclusively on the criteria in the land use code.

“I am confident the county will have no problem defending the propriety of our actions,” he said.

Stahla pointed out that Save the Poudre also appealed the state water quality certification that was granted for the project, and the Colorado Water Quality Control Division rejected that challenge.

He added, “We look at this as another attempt to delay an important project for the long-term water supply in Northern Colorado.”

Early season snow doesn’t erase severe statewide #drought – News on TAP #snowpack

The lingering effects of months of hot, dry weather in 2020 have water planners preparing for wet and dry scenarios this year.

Source: Early season snow doesn’t erase severe statewide drought – News on TAP