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1 <br />2008 WATER UPDATE FOR COLORADO <br /> <br />SEO FORUM <br /> <br />September 11, 2008 <br />Thornton, Colorado <br /> <br />By <br />Dick Wolfe, State Engineer <br /> <br />General Water Supply Conditions <br /> <br />We experienced the best runoff since 1997 due to the excellent snow pack. There <br />were three or four distinct periods of warm up and cool down, which extended the <br />peak runoff three to four weeks minimizing the occurrences of flooding. The snow <br />pack also allowed for most of the reservoirs, even on the tributaries, to fill. There <br />were some notable exceptions. In Water Division 3, the cold weather during spring <br />runoff on the Rio Grande and Conejos River did not allow the reservoirs to fill <br />because they did not come into priority. In Water Division 4, Blue Mesa Reservoir <br />did not fill. Due to initial anticipated high runoff and the unanticipated delayed runoff, <br />water was released early from the reservoir. In Water Division 5 most if not all of the <br />reservoirs filled except for Lake Granby. <br /> <br />The below average rainfall, especially along the Front Range and Eastern Plains, <br />caused a heavy draft on the reservoirs and the recent rains have eased the demand <br />somewhat but we still expect that the major irrigation reservoirs along the South <br />Platte River will be empty by the end of the irrigation season. August has been <br />wetter and has provided some relief to reduce the need for reservoir supplies and <br />allowed for more junior users including recharge rights to come into priority in the <br />South Platte River basin. Staff of the Division of Water Resources remain vigilant to <br />take advantage of the opportunities to store excess storm water in these reservoirs. <br /> <br />Because of the cool weather in May and June irrigators started later than normal. <br />Most areas of the West Slope did not experience any calls this year except for a few <br />areas on some tributaries. In some areas, this is a rare occurrence. There were no <br />free river conditions in Water Divisions 1, 2 and 3. Of special note on the Colorado <br />River Basin were the high inflows into Lake Powell. We gained about forty-five (45) <br />feet this year which will help support our compact obligations for years to come. <br /> <br />Many wells in the South Platte continue to be curtailed. It is unlikely that most of <br />these wells will be allowed to pump in the future as there is inadequate water for all <br />the users. However, in Water Division 2, high capacity well pumping is 120% to <br />134% above average due to increased availability of replacement water supplies and <br />the increased availability of water in the basin. <br /> <br />Despite record low rainfall in July and record use of water by municipalities the per <br />capita water usage is lower than existed prior to the drought of 2002. This would <br />appear to indicate that sustained conservation has occurred. Municipal supplies