frogs jumped in
sound of water
~by Matsuo Bashô
SUMMIT COUNTY — Water is rippling up as an early issue on the Colorado gubernatorial campaign trail, as Republican candidate Scott McInnis is being watchdogged by the Bigmedia.org blog regarding some water articles he may wrote on behalf of the Hasan Family Foundation, apparently for a fee of $150,000.
We’re also covering Lake Powell water levels and the right-to-float battle in Colorado Rivers in this water blog.
Bigmedia publisher Jason Salzman reckons that, since water is a Big Deal in Colorado, people might be interested in the McInnis papers, so he tried to track them down, querying a list of knowledgeable water experts to see if they’d come across the writings. So far, the trail dead ends in every direction, Salman says.
Read more at Bigmedia.org.
It’s also the time of year when water managers around the West start tallying up streamflows to calculate how the region’s big buckets will hold up for the long, hot summer ahead. The biggest of them all is Lake Powell, where the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the official runoff forecast is calling for an inflow of 5.2 million acre-feet. That sounds like a lot of water, but it’s only about 66 percent of average.
April inflow is well ahead of the volumes forecast at the beginning of the month. That raised Powell’s level two feet above projections at the start of May, but the Bureau cautioned that the high April volume wasn’t due to a bigger-than-expected runoff volume, but because runoff came earlier than expected. The peak projected elevation for Lake Powell is expected to come late July or early August, at about 66 feet below full pool.
Since 1999, inflow to Lake Powell has been below average in every year except water years 2005 and 2008. In the summer of 1999, Lake Powell was close to full with reservoir storage at 23.5 million acre-feet, or 97 percent of capacity.
During the next 5 years (2000 through 2004) unregulated inflow to Lake Powell was well below average. During that span, storage decreased to a low of 8 million acre-feet in April 2005. Drought conditions in the Upper Basin eased somewhat in 2005, 2008 and 2009, bringing storage back up to 57 percent of capacity as of May 10, 2010, with overall storage in the Colorado River Basin at 55 percent, which is “below desired levels,” according to BuRec. Get all the Lake Powell/Colorado River information here.
And thanks to NASA’s Earth Observatory program and the miracle of satellite photography, you can seem pictures of the water level in Lake Powell rising and falling. Click here to visit the NASA page.
Right to float
Aspen Daily News correspondent David Frey reported on the demise of a much-ballyhooed right-to-float bill that ran into some rough waters at the State Legislature this year. The measure was intended to end a dispute between private riverside landowners and commercial rafters, but ended up failing when strong emotions on both sides of the issue flared.
Boaters want the right to float through private land, while some property owners say that any encroachment amounts to trespassing. There’s been talk of a statewide ballot initiative to address the issue, but some water experts think lawmakers should step up and deal with the question once and for all. State courts have nibbled around the edge of the question, and the University of Colorado’s Mark Squillace said the courts have been practically begging lawmakers to resolve the issue. Read the Aspen Daily News story here.