Tue February 22, 2011

Reservoir Levels Strong, but Eastern Colorado Still Thirsty

Colorado water officials say reservoir levels across the state are strong, but the next few months will determine how much water is available for the spring and early irrigation season.

Although Colorado’s northern mountains have seen above-average snowfall this winter, precipitation for southern Colorado and the eastern plains has been lacking.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 58 percent of Colorado is experiencing drought conditions ranging from moderate to severe. 

“The good news is that reservoir storage is good across the state, for the most part,” says Veva Deheza with the Colorado Water Conservation Board and co-chair of the state’s Water Availability Task Force.  “However, if we start going into a dry spring and summer, those reservoirs will be drawn down a lot more; there’ll be more demand for that water if there’s no precipitation coming out.”

Deheza says the next two to three months will be key, especially when it comes to the impact on dryland farming of crops such as winter wheat and millet.  Snowpack in the Colorado mountains – which provides much of the state’s water – stands at about 115 percent of average statewide, with all but the Rio Grande basin near or above average levels. 

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