Streamflow Forecasts for 2017
May 2, 2017
By Anne Janicki, Transactions Specialist, Colorado Water Trust
AHHHH – springtime in Colorado - 80 degrees one day, cold and snow the next – sometimes you just don’t know what the week will bring! Here at the Colorado Water Trust, we ponder similar uncertainties for our rivers each spring. Did winter bring enough snow to sustain healthy streams? Will we see July monsoons bring our streams the cooler temps and moisture that they rely upon?
In Colorado, most of our streamflow is derived from snowmelt, and snowpack conditions in late March and early April can be a good indicator of whether instream flows and other water rights will be met, whether fish populations will be stressed by low water levels and high temperatures, and whether low stream flows might affect the state’s recreational floating and boating industries.
Keeping our mission in mind, to restore flows to rivers and streams in need, the Water Trust monitors snowpack and streamflow forecasts to identify potential flow-impaired rivers each year. We can then look for or implement market-based flow restoration tools and strategies to help maintain stream flows and minimize environmental impacts.
To help us peer into the crystal ball of our water future, our staff attends the monthly Water Availability Task Force (WATF) meetings hosted by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. This group monitors conditions that affect Colorado’s water supply and gives in-depth presentations from snow scientists and climate experts. They summarize snowpack conditions, precipitation, and reservoir storage levels, and also project streamflow and climate conditions for the coming season.
The Water Trust also monitors conditions reported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service for Colorado (NRCS) and NOAA’s Colorado River Basin Forecast Center (CRBFC), and tracks information into the summer season as forecasts become more reliable.
So, how are things shaping up for THIS year? Click on the file below to read on for the full details ...