Posted on May 18, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Quagga mussels growing on a flip-flop. Photo courtesy NPS.
Biologists hopeful that the alien invaders haven’t started breeding yet
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Non-native quagga mussels have gummed up waterworks and fouled ecosystems across the country and now, for the first time, they’ve been confirmed in Lake Powell, the great southwestern reservoir that is a key part overall water storage in the Colorado River Basin.
The National Park Service recently identified 14 adult quagga mussels attached to moored vessels and dock structures at the Wahweap Marina in Lake Powell. None of the adult mussels were close enough together to mate for successful reproduction. All of the mussels were physically removed from the lake. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, invasive species, Lake Powell, National Park Service, quaga mussels | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 1, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Lake Powell will be drained in the coming years, the federal government announced April 1.
Drought-stricken reservoir to revert to pre-diversion conditions within 10 years
By Snob Beerwhine
SUMMIT COUNTY — In a classic “see-you-later” political move, outgoing Interior Secretary Ben Malabar announced that the federal government will start decommissioning Glen Canyon Dam and draining Lake Powell as soon as this summer.
Malabar announced the change in U.S. water policy in an April 1 memo that outlined how communities that depend on the stored water in Lake Powell can adapt.
“Recent studies make it clear that, because of global warming, Lake Powell only has a few decades left anyway, so we’re going to get ahead of the curve on this issue,” Malabar said, adding that it’s high time that the Colorado River flows to the sea the way God intended. (more…)
Filed under: April Fools | Tagged: April Fools, drought, global warming, Lake Powell, water | 5 Comments »
Posted on March 13, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Lake Powell has dropped to below 50 percent of capacity. Photo courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Colorado River Basin storage expected to drop to 50 percent of average by end of summer
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Lake Powell won’t be looking its best for its 50th birthday this year. The key reservoir in the Colorado River Basin is almost 100 feet below full pool and recently dipped to below 50 percent capacity, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s operations update.
Specifically, the reservoir level was 98.5 feet below full as of March 11, and at 49 percent of capacity. Water managers expect the reservoir level to continue dropping for at least several more weeks before it begins to refill with spring snow melt and runoff.
But just how much it refills remains to be seen. Snowpack in the Colorado River Basin has been bumped up by February and March storms, but BuRec estimates that inflow for the key April to July runoff season will total just 3.4 million acre feet, which is 47 percent of average. Releases for the 2013 water year are projected to total 8.23 million acre feet, which would draw the reservoir down to about 44 percent of capacity by the end of the current water year.
Based on current conditions and projections for the next few months, the Colorado River Basin is expected to deliver just 49 percent of the average annual flows, with basin-wide reservoir storage dropping to about 50 percent of capacity by the end of September.
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Colorado River, Colorado River Basin, Lake Powell, Lake Powell water level, water | 6 Comments »
Posted on February 24, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Southwest, Great Plains most vulnerable to future water shortages
Under some climate change scenarios, Lake Powell is at risk, according to a new study from the US. Forest Service. Photo courtesy Mission 31, ISS, via the Wikimedia Commons.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Some of the West’s biggest reservoirs could dry up completely as the region gets warmer and drier in coming decades, and major increases in storage capacity probably won’t help address regional water shortages, according to a new study authored by researchers with Colorado State University, Princeton and the U.S. Forest Service.
In the Colorado River Basin, “Lakes Powell and Mead are projected to drop to zero and only occasionally thereafter add rather small amounts of storage before emptying again,” the scientists concluded, adding that smaller upstream reservoirs might still be useful.
The report, published by the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, combined climate projections with socio-economic scenarios of population growth and water use to determine future water supply and demand, to assess the likelihood of future water shortages region by region. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, Environment, water | Tagged: climate change, Colorado River, Colorado State University, drought, global warming, Lake Powell, Southwest, United States Forest Service, water | 7 Comments »
Posted on November 20, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Federal water managers simulate flooding flows in Colorado River
Bypass valves open to release a huge surge of water into the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam. Photo courtesy Bureau of Reclamation.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Water may be in short supply in the West this year, but that didn’t stop federal officials from cranking open the valves of Glen Canyon Dam to unleash what’s unromantically being called a high-flow experimental release. The release won’t change the overall water balance in the Colorado River system, as adjustments are made at other times.
The five-day high-flow regime will lower Lake Powell by up to 2.5 feet in just a few days and send more than 42,000 acre feet of water surging through Glen, Marble and the Grand Canyon before it ends up Lake Mead. A detailed FAQ is online here.
This year’s release is the first since 2008 and is intended to rebuild depleted sandbars and beaches. Under the concept of high flow experimental releases, sand stored in the river channel is picked up by high-volume water releases from the dam and re-deposited in downstream reaches as sandbars and beaches. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Colorado River, Glen Canyon Dam, high-flow experimental release, Lake Powell, rivers, water | 3 Comments »
Posted on August 19, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
2012 headed for 3d-driest year on record
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — In a blunt reminder of the severity of this year’s drought, the Colorado River for the second month in a row delivered less than 15 percent of its average flows to Lake Powell.
Water managers are now forecasting a total inflow for water year 2012 of about 5.15 million acre feet, which is less than half (48 percent) of average. That would make it the third-driest year on record, but still much wetter than 2002, when total inflow was only 2.64 million acre feet (24 percent of average).
The water level in the key reservoir — which helps balance competing demands from the upper basin and lower basin states — has dropped fast, to 24 feet below the maximum 2011 level. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: climate, Colorado River, drought, Lake Powell | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 20, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
(or reservoirs … )
Clinton Gulch Reservoir at twilight. Summit County, Colorado.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — For the purposes of my environmental reporting, I’m often careful to make a clear distinction between lakes and reservoirs — for good reason here in Colorado, where the majority of the population depends on stored water to drink, shower and for watering lawns.
Lakes follow a natural life cycle and rhythm, driven by precipitation, temperatures, inflows and other natural factors. But reservoirs are completely controlled by human actions and their levels rise and fall depending on human needs.
It’s an interesting distinction, and a lot of people still don’t get it, as evidenced by the fact that Dillon Reservoir, near my home in Frisco, Colorado, is still called Lake Dillon by many locals and visitors, and some still appear surprised when the water level falls by several feet within a few short weeks during dry years (like now).
But for the sake of the popular #FriFotos Twitter chat, I’ve included pictures of both lakes and reservoirs, focusing on their aesthetic qualities rather than technical definitions. Join the fun by posting your own photos, tagged with #FriFotos and enjoy lake pictures from around the world. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Morning photo, photography, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Colorado, Dillon Reservoir, Frisco Colorado, Gore Range, Lake Powell, lakes, photography, reservoirs | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 12, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Lake Powell from a NASA satellite in 2000.
2012 on track to be third-driest year in Colorado River Basin
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Showing just how little snowpack there was, and how early it melted, June inflows into Lake Powell totaled just 13 percent of average, according to the Bureau of Reclamation’s latest update. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, Environment, La Niña, rivers, water | Tagged: Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado, Colorado River, Colorado River Basin, Lake Powell, water | 4 Comments »
Posted on June 4, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Snowpack is gone, streamflows forecast to be well below average
Some level of drought conditions encompass all of Colorado in this Ma9 update from the U.S. Drought Monitor.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY —Extreme drought conditions are expanding in northwest Colorado, covering most of Garfield, Rio Blanco, and Routt counties as well as portions of Moffat, Pitkin, and Mesa counties — encompassing about 10 percent of the state in a region with critical watersheds for downstream water users.
Eagle and Summit and Grand counties are designated as being in a severe drought, with streamflows forecast to be well below normal across the region.
The latest update from the U.S. Drought monitor shows all of Colorado now experiencing some level of drought, with Eagle County, for example, experiencing pre-drought, moderate drought and severe drought conditions, depending on the exact location. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, Summit County snow and weather | Tagged: Colorado drought expands, Colorado weather, drought, Lake Powell, snowpack, Summit County Colorado, summit county weather | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 2, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Lake Powell inflow projected to be less than half of average
Colorado's snowpack is in the red zone.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal water managers have significantly lowered their expectations of runoff into Lake Powell this year in the past couple of months, as a lack of spring snowfall and an early snow-melt season combined to shrink the snowpack in the Upper Colorado Basin to just a third of average.
March inflow into the key reservoir was about 10,000 acre feet higher than forecast, mainly due to the early snow-melt season, but still only 84 percent of average. Through July, the inflow is only expected to be 49 percent of average. For the water year, the inflow is now projected to be about 63 percent of average. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, Environment, La Niña, Snow and weather, water | Tagged: Colorado River, Colorado water, drought, Lake Powell | 1 Comment »