From email from Reclamation (James Bishop):
On Wednesday, July 3, releases from Green Mountain Dam to the Blue River will increase according to the following schedule:
12:00 p.m. (noon): Adjust release from 2,100 cfs to 2,300 cfs
4:00 p.m.: Adjust release from 2,300 cfs to 2,500 cfs
Releases will remain at 2500 cfs after 4 p.m. until further notice.
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From The Nevada Independent (Daniel Rothberg):
Pueblo Water’s decision comes after four states and Denver’s municipal water agency accused the Arizona agency — the Central Arizona Water Conservation District — of undermining Lake Powell elevations by manipulating the complicated supply-and-demand rules that govern water orders.
“Given our recent knowledge of the actions taken by [CAWCD] we cannot, in good conscience, participate in the program,” Seth Clayton, Pueblo Water’s executive director, wrote in the letter.
The letter, dated April 18, comes as the Arizona agency is set to meet next week with negotiators for the Upper Basin states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The Colorado River is split into two basins with two main reservoirs. The Upper Basin stores water in Lake Powell and the Lower Basin stores water in Lake Mead, 30 miles outside of Las Vegas.
The Arizona agency at the center of the controversy, CAWCD, has kept quiet in recent days, despite increasing media attention, so as not to affect the outcome of those discussions.
The Lower Basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada are also scheduled to meet on May 2, although that meeting had been scheduled before the letters to CAWCD were reported last week. The commissioner for the Bureau of Reclamation had been invited to that meeting.
The Pueblo letter confirms what Upper Basin water managers feared — that Arizona’s actions would dissuade water users from joining the conservation program. The program, which is in its pilot phase, pays water users to conserve. The hope is that the conserved water, by not leaving the system, will boost the elevation of Lake Powell. The Arizona agency has said it wants to maximize the amount of water it gets from the Upper Basin, which stores water in Lake Powell.
“[Upper Basin water users] do not want to be putting water into Lake Powell if it gets immediately pulled down to feed this policy that the district is trying to advance,” said James Eklund, who represents the state of Colorado on the Upper Colorado River Commission.
CAWCD has said its strategy is to help Arizona prepare for shortage, noting that its actions are permissible under current Colorado River rules. In a statement last week, a spokesperson said: “We have been reaching out to our partners in the Upper Basin, hoping to clarify apparent misunderstandings, and to facilitate in-person, collaborative discussions aimed at finding solutions that will benefit the communities and environment served by this mighty river.”
From The Durango Herald (Jim Mimiaga):
Mountain snowpack is sparse, with more brown ground showing than snowy white. Snotels situated at various elevations in the Dolores Basin are recording 18 percent of normal precipitation for this time of year, according to the National Resource Conservation Service. Last year at this time the basin was at 122 percent of normal.
“We are concerned about lack of snowpack, but it is still early in the season,” said Mike Preston, general manager for the Dolores Water Conservancy District that manages McPhee.
A silver lining is that McPhee has strong carryover storage of 137,000 acre-feet because of above average snowpack and runoff last winter.
Active storage of 270,000 acre-feet is needed to provide full water supply for farmers in 2018, “so we are already at half the supply needed,” Preston said.
Enough excess water for a 2018 boating release below McPhee Dam would require at least an average winter snowpack. While full farmer supply is anticipated even with a below average winter snowpack, a weak winter could create a lack of carryover at the end of the season, putting the 2019 season more at risk, Preston said.
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that western Colorado and eastern Utah have moved into the moderate drought category. And the dry trend is expected to continue, according to forecasts.
A strong high-pressure ridge stretching across the western U.S. is preventing storms from reaching Colorado, said Megan Stackhouse, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.