Denver Water watching snowpack runoff closely

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DENVER (KDVR) — Lack of soil moisture across Colorado could severely impact how much water makes it to streams, rivers and reservoirs according to Denver Water and a state hydrologist with Natural Resources Conservation Services.

Denver Water told the Problem Solvers snowpack at their locations improved through March with the South Platte collection system at 99% of average. Currently within the Colorado River collection system snowpack is at 93%. 

“Understanding snowpack levels is critical to operating the system in a way that captures, stores and delivers water to 1.5 million customers in its service area,” said Todd Hartman, a Denver Water spokesperson.  

Reservoir storage for the utility is at 76% full with normal for this time of year being 79%. Water agencies fear the last two years dry conditions will soak up a huge percentage of the run off.

“Currently conditions are favorable but, the next few weeks will be critical in determining 2021 the water supply picture,” Hartman said.

The utility’s water restrictions currently limit watering to three times weekly starting May 1 and running through October.  The rules also prohibit watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. but that could change depending on the run off. 

“As to what other steps may be considered, that will depend on conditions. We are watching those closely over the next few weeks,” said Hartman. “We will be watching runoff forecasts and weather patterns closely over the next several weeks.”

Denver Water measuring snowpack monthly in locations in Grand, Park and Summit counties from January through May. Employees gather water depth and weight across the back country by snowshoeing, skiing and riding snow cats to reach remote locations. The large utility also uses Airborne Snow Observatory flights to measure snow depth in the Blue River Basin which flows into Dillion Reservoir. 

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