From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Clayton Chaney):
On Wednesday, June 30, Gov. Jared Polis formally declared a drought emergency for 21 counties in the western portion of the state by proclamation.
The proclamation states that Colorado is now in phase 3 activa- tion of the State Drought Plan for 21 counties, including Archuleta, Hinsdale and La Plata counties.
Mineral County was not in- cluded in the governor’s proclamation.
However, a press release from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) explains that counties along the Continental Divide in abnormally dry conditions or a moderate drought “will continue to be closely monitored and added to the drought emergency proclama- tion as appropriate.”
The CWCB press release explains that phase 3 is the highest level of activation under the State Drought Plan.
The CWCB press release notes that on June 22, 2020, phase 2 of the State Drought Plan was activated for 40 counties and expanded to all 64 counties by September 2020…
According to the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), as of 10 a.m. on June 29, 100 percent of Archuleta County remains in a moderate drought stage, with more than half of the county in extreme drought.
The NIDIS website notes that under a moderate drought stage, dry-land crops may suffer, rangeland growth is stunted, very little hay is available and risk of wildfires may increase.
The NIDIS website also notes that 71.17 percent of the county is in a severe drought stage.
According to the NIDIS, under a severe drought stage, fire season is extended.
Additionally, the NIDIS website notes that 51.04 percent of the county is in an extreme drought, mostly in the western portion of the county.
The NIDIS website notes that under an extreme drought stage, large fires may develop and pasture conditions worsen.
According to the NIDIS, 6.24 percent of the county, in the southwestern portion, is in an exceptional drought stage…
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the San Juan River was flowing at a rate of 149 cfs in Pagosa Springs as of 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 7.
Based on 85 years of water re- cords at this site, the average flow rate for this date is 482 cfs.
The highest recorded rate for this date was in 1995 at 2,080 cfs. The lowest recorded rate was 17.5 cfs, recorded in 2002.
As of 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 7, the Piedra River near Arboles was flowing at a rate of 119 cfs.
Based on 58 years of water records at this site, the average flow rate for this date is 372 cfs.
The highest recorded rate for this date was 1,920 cfs in 1975. The lowest recorded rate was 8.05 cfs in 2002.