Colorado’s snowpack is 66 percent of normal statewide, forcing an expansion of the federal drought designation to cover nearly 25 percent of the state.
Stream flows are predicted at half of average. Water suppliers are urgently trying to secure supplies as the state’s population continues to spike along the Front Range.
“There’s going to be people without water. It’s going to be a tight year,” said U.S. Department of Agriculture snow survey supervisor Brian Domonkos.
Denver Water is seeking federal approval to expand its storage in the Gross Reservoir, a controversial effort, as the snowpack in the South Platte River Basin remains very low.
State water managers, meanwhile, are considering using federal drought funds and implementing a program to ensure streamflows to protect endangered fish.
“We’re very closely monitoring the situation for impacts to make decisions about what we need to do next,” said Colorado Water Conservation Board climate change specialist Taryn Finnessey.
“Water providers are concerned. Those who have more storage are in a better position than those who rely more on direct flows,” she said. “This is something everybody from the agency level up to the governor’s office is closely watching to make sure we are ready to respond” (Bruce Finley, Denver Post, April 5). — NB