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Is it time to worry yet?
I feel confident in saying that last year (Water Year 2012) for the Arkansas valley was one of the four worst since the Dust Bowl. 2012 was right up there with 1977, 1981, and 2002. Guess what. So far Water Year 2013 is worse. At the moment, we are matching 2002.

Here are two charts. (OK, I can't paste the graphs here, you'll have to look it up yourself) One compares this year so far with the past 6 years and the second compares it with 1981, and 2002 the average and the maximum. (Can’t get the data for ’77.) This is based on Snotel sites. Some of the Snotel sites are far downstream an don’t impact whitewater, but collectively they are a good measure of central tendency. The upper Snotel sites, more indicative of what’s in store for Granite and on down through Browns (for example, Bromely) are even worse that the average. If you want to play this game yourself, check out:
http://www.cpachecojr.com/cgi-bin/work/get_basin.cgi


then select Basin SWE line graphs

You can run the numbers for all the Colorado drainages and pick up to 6 years to compare on the graph. Have fun. It’s supposed to snow Friday and Saturday.
 

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Yes it's time to worry Zipbak. We have significantly less snow and less water stored in reservoirs than we did last year at the same time. It is going to take monster snows just to get us back up to average. Frankly I'm very concerned about our boating season on the Ark for 2013...

 

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I told my Dad that if we don't get any snow here (Colorado) then I'm spending my summer in Montana (work makes it easy that way).
Not so sure Montana will have it any better. You can kiss my 'climate change' a$$...this be global warming. :(
 

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Yes. I'm concerned about the snowpack.

That site linked by the OP is a really cool one. I hadn't seen that before.

When I plotted this year, max and average and did some fiddling (south platte drainage).... it looks like if we get as much snow from today to peak pack as the max year, we could get this year back to average. Odds are its going to be another very low water year, which sucks royally.
 

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I told my Dad that if we don't get any snow here (Colorado) then I'm spending my summer in Montana (work makes it easy that way).
Not so sure Montana will have it any better. You can kiss my 'climate change' a$$...this be global warming. :(
44 and raining in Missoula all day yesterday
 

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The issue with worrying is that it doesn't actually help. What does help is paddling all of the good runs in Colorado that have water even in dry years.
 

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I wonder how much cloud seeding is affecting snowfall in different regions. I know the Grand Mesa is getting pounded this year and I'm curious how much of this is due to the cloud seeding they are trying. Anyone have more information on this topic?
 

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lmyers, isn't the Ark water meeting coming up? Are you going?
Yes I will be there, but it's not specifically a "water meeting". It is a meeting of the Citizen's Task Force administered by the AHRA. Many players will be there including BLM, Front Range Water entities and city representatives. It will be the best opportunity for the public to voice concerns and obtain information regarding upcoming operations related to the river.

The actual meeting where the decisions are made concerning rationing and releases of next years' water will take place very soon, but behind closed doors that are not open to the public.
 

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What is Denver going to do if we don't get more snow? Dillon is already so low - I don't think we can count on another summer of 300 cfs north fork runs all day every day.
 

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Brian- Last year, we had so much water in the south platte because Denver didn't really put any water restrictions in place. I think you are right, if the snowpack doesn't shape up then Denver will have to start restricting peoples' water usage instead of bringing tons of water over. After all, farmers in the Grand Valley will still be calling for their water and it has to come from somewhere.
 

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don't bogart that
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Yes I will be there, but it's not specifically a "water meeting". It is a meeting of the Citizen's Task Force administered by the AHRA. Many players will be there including BLM, Front Range Water entities and city representatives. It will be the best opportunity for the public to voice concerns and obtain information regarding upcoming operations related to the river.

The actual meeting where the decisions are made concerning rationing and releases of next years' water will take place very soon, but behind closed doors that are not open to the public.
Right on, I would like to hear your opinion on the Citizen's Task Force administered by the AHRA meeting. I would like to join you, but it sound like you got it handled.
Robert
 

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Re: Denver water and the north fork...

Upper South Platte Drainage snowpack is very low currently. Something like 37% of average. This portion of the south platte basin is where denver water gets its front range snowmelt that goes into cheeseman, elevenmile etc, and is the primary water storage and supply for denver water. Upper blue river is around 60% of average last time I looked.

I spoke with the Denver Water folks about this just this week. In 2002, reservoir storage was low, and snowpack was really bad. The north fork ran at very similar flows (tunnel and total flows) to what it did last year. Lots of days in the 250-350 range. I would expect similar this coming year unless something big happens.

Dillon is low, but they will have water to deliver to Denver. People forget that dillon isn't a sailboat lake, its a water storage reservoir.

One interesting tidbit is what happens if there is a colorado river compact call. Denver Water noted that if lower basin states make calls for water that there is a disagreement on what happens. Denver Water thinks that it could divert stored water from dillon through the tunnel, and let natural runoff inflow pass through to feed the call. Others interpret it differently as say that roberts tunnel should be shut off completely. There is apparently something in the colorado compact that says that out of basin diversions should be the first to stop if there isn't enough water in the colorado to support downstream states. It would probably end up in litigation as its a thorny issue with major impacts.

I agree with Jmack... worrying doesn't do anything... On the other hand... steeling yourself for the reality that we will likely have a repeat of last year, start taking some prozac or something like that and get ready for bummer season 2.0.

Gore and Bailey really saved last year for me. They will be around from march/april until the snow starts falling the the fall. I really miss high water clear creek, manking down SSV, big south when the gate is open...
 

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Right on, I would like to hear your opinion on the Citizen's Task Force administered by the AHRA meeting. I would like to join you, but it sound like you got it handled.
Robert
I am not a member of the CTF (although I would like to be) and haven't really contributed anything to the meetings other than asking a few questions. You are certainly welcome to sit in on the meeting as anyone is. I find them interesting and will continue to attend every one, even if I am not on the panel. There is always a short time period where you can ask questions or give input.
 

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You need to start re-calibrating what is % of normal. This year the agencies that do this data collection and reporting started using a new base line to determine % of average. The base line is a 30 year period and it shifted starting with this water year, forward 10 years. This left out several wet years in the 70s and now includes many recent dryer years. The effect is an overal skew down of what is "average" or "normal", which ultimately skews upwards any % of average stats. There can be some signifcant differences when using the old and new baseline for calculating these stats. For example, in the owyhee the current % of average SWE estimate is about 17% greater under the new baseline than using the old baseline.
a good discussion is found in the Idaho water outlook report, but isn't just speciic to Idaho, but everywhere in the U.S. for reports generated by these agencies.
ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/ID/snow/watersupply/bor/2013/borid113.pdf

Bottom line, things are even worse than they appear, especially for areas that are currently significantly below average, and of concern for my favorite place, the Owyhee
 

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I am not a member of the CTF (although I would like to be) and haven't really contributed anything to the meetings other than asking a few questions. You are certainly welcome to sit in on the meeting as anyone is. I find them interesting and will continue to attend every one, even if I am not on the panel. There is always a short time period where you can ask questions or give input.
Since these meetings are of statewide interest and because time, cost and/or scheduling conflicts make it difficult for those who would otherwise participate, comment, etc., how about setting up one- or, preferably, two-way live, remote videoconferencing via, say, Skype, FaceTime, GoToMeeting, UStream, etc on iPhones, iPads, etc.?
 
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