Resource managers urge conservation
*Editor’s note: Local water experts are writing a weekly series to raise awareness about potential drought impacts of low stream flows and falling reservoir levels. This is the first installment.
By Troy Wineland
“Uncharted territory.” “Driest year on record!” “Seeing things that have never occurred before.”
These were the headlines and quotes in 2002, the last time we experienced conditions comparable to the current dry spell.
Uncharted … The Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Green Mountain Reservoir, placed its “start of fill” call April 1, the earliest possible date and the earliest on record.
The basis? Even assuming above average precipitation this summer, which is not in the forecast, Green Mountain will fall more than 20 feet short of filling this year. This equals a 40,000-acre-foot shortfall in wet water storage.
Driest year … The entire state is experiencing drought conditions to a varying degree, from abnormally dry to extreme drought. Summit County is under severe drought and will remain there, or worsen, without substantial precipitation.
Never occurred before … My conversations with ranchers revealed a mutual consternation. Not one of them can recall an earlier or drier spring. Headgates were opened weeks early and the irrigators are struggling to capture a fraction of what they typically divert.
Why the shortfall?
What should we expect this summer?
Look for this column every Monday throughout the summer. Articles will focus on drought, water conservation and the perspectives and realities of water management in Summit County.
You can also anticipate a countywide outreach effort requesting voluntary water conservation in the near future. I urge everyone to join together in establishing a new benchmark for resourcefulness, and creativity while navigating these uncharted waters.
Due to drought conditions in the Blue River watershed, water providers in Summit County are implementing increased levels of water conservation. Please go to your water provider’s website to see how these changes will affect you. For additional water conservation tips visit: www.blueriverwatershed.org.
Troy Wineland is the Division 5, District 36 (Blue River Basin) water commissioner for the Office of the State Engineer.
- ‘Extreme’ drought expanding in Colorado (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Colorado: Key reservoirs unlikely to fill this year (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Summit County: Low May precipitation adds to drought woes (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Parts of NW Colorado now in extreme drought (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Summit County: State of the River session set for May 8 (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Drought conditions expand in north-central Colorado (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Colorado: Heading for the driest March on record (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Colorado drought watch: Poudre River goes dry (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Colorado: Critical April 1 survey shows snowpack melting away; runoff to be well below average across the state (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Colorado: Water providers eye drought measures (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Colorado: Green Mountain Reservoir not likely to fill this year (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Colorado: Spring meltdown looks like 1910 drought (summitcountyvoice.com)