Grand County a bright spot for West Slope water supply
While a dry April and May hurt western Colorado runoff forecasts, Grand County’s remains above average for this time of year.
According to the Colorado River District, a winter of near-average snowfall withered prematurely and West Slope runoff has suffered.
The hot, dry summer and fall of 2019 set a poor stage for whatever snow was to come because of the dry soil that absorbs snowmelt before the streams can benefit.
“We are now in year 20 of an extended dry period that we should start accepting as the new normal,” Andy Mueller, general manager of the Colorado River District, said in a news release. “Warmer temperatures, dry soils and disappointing spring and summer moisture are defining how we look at future policies to determine how best to protect Western Colorado water security.”
The Colorado River District did mention that Grand and Summit counties continue to be bright spots for the West Slope water supply.
Snowpack peaked in Grand at above average in mid-April and continues to be above average for this time of year. This is good news as the county’s water feeds the Upper Colorado River and important reservoirs.
The Colorado River is expected to peak this week at Cameo at 12,900 cubic feet per second, aided by upstream reservoir releases to support endangered fish habitat.
Granby and Green Mountain reservoirs are expected to fill, the river district said, while Wolford Mountain Reservoir is already full.
The situation is much different to the west and the south, which have below normal snowpack and seasonal runoff forecasts at half of what is normally expected. Western Colorado contributes about 70% of inflows to Lake Powell, where the runoff forecast has now fallen to 56% of normal.
The river district expects the drought that began in 2000 to continue through 2020.
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The Board of Grand County Commissioners is planning a public comment session for a proposal to rename the Gore Range to the Nuchu Range.