Ag Talk 4-19-10 |

Ag Talk 4-19-10

There’s bad news and good news, and the combination is driving water planners batty.

That was the hot topic recently at the 2010 Spring Water Users meeting of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District at the Radisson Conference Center, a meeting that drew more than 150 water providers and others from the eight-county area of northern Colorado.

Karen Rademacher, a senior water resources engineer with Northern Water, said reservoir storage within the district’s boundary is at record high and soil moisture is in excellent condition going into the growing season. But the high-mountain snowpack, in particular that area of the upper Colorado River where Northern gets its supplemental water supply for the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, is dismal at best.

That bad news, however, has improved somewhat in the past week, Rademacher said, with early spring storms dumping a lot of snow in the mountains.

“But even with that, it will take a major (storm) event to get us back up to average,” Rademacher said.

That’s the scenario Northern’s board will face when it meets to set this year’s quota for the C-BT, and while Rademacher said the staff decision has not yet been set in stone, chances are good for a 70 percent quota to start the year. That means for every acre-foot of water a C-BT shareholder has, it will get 0.7 of an acre-foot it can use. An acre-foot is enough water to supply two families with a year’s supply of water.

That water goes to both agricultural, as well as municipal and industrial users.

Rademacher said the other good news is that the three-month outlook for the mountains calls for better than average precipitation, “but I’ve been seeing that all year long and it seems like that’s a mirage.”

Because of the low snowpack, streamflow from the snowpack runoff is forecast at about 50 percent to 80 percent of average in the tributaries for both the Colorado and South Platte rivers.

However, Rademacher and Jim Hall, head of the Division 1 office of the Colorado Division of Water Resources in Greeley, Colo., said reservoir storage throughout northern Colorado is at record levels.

“It’s the best storage I’ve seen in the last 10 years,” Hall said of eastern Colorado reservoirs. And because of soil moisture, he said there has not yet been a call for water from the South Platte, which is unusual.

“I won’t say we’re in a great situation, because streamflow at this point isn’t looking good. But soil moisture is good, and since we haven’t had a call on the river, so I would say that I’m very optimistic,” Hall said.


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