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Wed May 16, 2018, 08:14 AM

4/9 Normally CO's Peak Snowpack Day; This Year, Upper Rio Grande 46%, Gunnison 57%, Arkansas 63%

It wasn’t just a low snow season. It was another low snow season, the latest in what is becoming an increasingly common occurrence in Colorado. As skiers across the state bemoaned the lack of fresh powder this winter, climate scientists and hydrologists recognized something more acute: The dry winter exacerbated water scarcity in the Centennial State, placing more stress on our rivers and increasing the likelihood of an active fire season.

To put things in perspective, on April 9—which is historically the peak day for snowpack in Colorado—almost the entire state was sitting at below-average levels. Southern Colorado had it worst. The Upper Rio Grande basin, for instance, boasted a meager 43 percent of its normal snowpack. The Gunnison basin sat at only 57 percent. The Arkansas basin was at 63 percent. Only the North and South Platte River basins approached normal levels.

A month later, little has improved. “We’re staring down a pretty bleak water year,” says Matt Rice, director of the American Rivers’ Colorado Basin Program. And what’s worse, he says, is that “This is absolutely part of a trend.” According to river and conservation scientists, Colorado is in the midst of a drought that dates back to the record-dry year of 2002. Although we have had some wet winters over the past two decades, dry seasons are now becoming “the new normal.” And that’s a problem—not just for our ski resorts, rivers, and lakes, but also for our farmers, cities and our neighboring states.

Ask a climate scientist why water scarcity in Colorado has become so dire, and their most simple answer will likely be a two-part explanation: Climate change and population growth. Over the past several decades, Colorado has seen warmer temperatures with dryer winters and diminished snowpack. It doesn’t help that, since 2000, Colorado has gained approximately 1.3 million residents, all of whom in some way rely on the state’s water sources. “The population growth is very much compounded by climate change,” Rice says. “There is increasing demand on rivers for municipal and industrial water use.”



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Reply 4/9 Normally CO's Peak Snowpack Day; This Year, Upper Rio Grande 46%, Gunnison 57%, Arkansas 63% (Original post)
hatrack May 2018 OP
asiliveandbreathe May 2018 #1
hatrack May 2018 #2
asiliveandbreathe May 2018 #3
meadowlark5 May 2018 #4

Response to hatrack (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2018, 08:47 AM

1. This is all too common these days in some parts of country, thanks for the article..

Friend stopped by yesterday (in AZ) on way to ski tomorrow - Dillon CO..not far from Breckenridge..
Hubby and I were there couple years ago..I fell in love with area..especially Frisco...but to live there, I would need a helicopter to take me down the mountain - that road, I swear, is +10 degree down..

We are in AZ, drought is taking hold - moderate-severe - hubby on job in Lakewood Co. last couple weeks..he is too accustomed to predictable, dry and warm AZ...he said he is cold...of course, we already hit 100....

thanks again...

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Response to asiliveandbreathe (Reply #1)

Wed May 16, 2018, 08:53 AM

2. There's a better map giving snowpack in basins throughout the west

Also from 4/9. Beyond that northeastern 1/3 of the NW/SE track, not much of a season.

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Response to hatrack (Reply #2)

Wed May 16, 2018, 09:08 AM

3. Thank you again for the map..and info - eom

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Response to hatrack (Original post)

Wed May 16, 2018, 09:30 AM

4. There is absolutely no consideration for water when these developers come to town

I live in a rural area outside of Denver but within 14 miles of two suburban towns that are sprawling in every direction of land available.

There is nothing where I live, it's a crossroads but many pass through it commuting. It was all ranch land that no one ranches anymore so land is cheap and developers want it. Because if you build it, they will come. Then everything just fills in with more homes, apartments and commercial development.

Our little area fought the development and won for now. But what we found along the way, the republican majority county commisioners took away a very important requirement for new development -- you don't need to show water longevity. Developers used to have to show what their development was going to use for water and how long the supply would last (most of the southern and eastern suburbs of Denver are fed by aquifers). But the zoning commissioners got rid of that requirement. A developer just needs to say there is enough water at present time to supply the apartment complexes or housing development.

They hit and run. They get their profit and leave the residents with the long term issues. I don't know if the situation has changed, but there was a neighborhood south and west of Denver where the aquifer was drained and the homes were without water. They have probably since figured out a way to tap them into some water district but the damage to that aquifer is done.

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