FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMay 27, 2012
Contact: Diane Johnson, 970-477-5457 Communications and Public Affairs Manager Drought “extreme” in part of Colorado River Basin Eagle River Water & Sanitation District closely monitoring water supply variables
VAIL, Colo. – Extreme drought conditions have been introduced in the Yampa, Colorado, and Gunnison River basins according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The latest map, released Thursday, shows 96 percent of Colorado is experiencing some level of drought condition, with drought intensity in northwestern Colorado “extreme.”
The U.S. Drought Monitor classifies drought intensity on a scale of D0 to D4. Drought intensity in Eagle County remains at D2, severe, while points just west were elevated to D3, extreme, from the previous week. The area includes most of Garfield and Rio Blanco counties and is the only region in Colorado currently categorized as extreme. The covered area comprises 7.27 percent of the state.
Governor Hickenlooper expanded the activation of Colorado’s Drought Mitigation and Response Plan last week to include the Yampa/White, Colorado, and Gunnison River basins. Phase 2 of the State plan was activated over a year ago due to deteriorating drought conditions in the Arkansas and Rio Grande River basins and it remains active for those portions of Colorado.
According to Colorado’s Water Availability Task Force, April 2012 was the fourth warmest on record in Colorado. March 2012 was the third warmest for Colorado and tied 1966 for the driest on record. Records date back to 1895. The last two months temperatures have been five degrees above average for most of Colorado.
This winter’s warmer and drier than normal weather resulted in record low snowpack which has been melting earlier than normal, leaving streamflow forecasts well below average. Statewide streamflow forecasts have dropped 5-15 percent since April 1.
SNOTEL (snow telemetry) data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) showed the Colorado River basin had its lowest May 1 snowpack on record (45 year record) at 21 percent of average for that date. The NRCS May 1 streamflow forecast puts the entire Colorado River basin at less than 50 percent of average, with the Eagle River below Gypsum forecasted to be at 43 percent of average.
Eagle River Water and Sanitation District continues to closely monitor variables affecting local water supply. Should drought conditions persist, water available for irrigation and other outdoor uses may be less than normal this year. Currently, normal year-round Water Use Regulations are in effect.
ERWSD encourages all customers to take action to lessen the impact of drought on our community by carefully considering their outdoor water needs and adhering to the regulations, which allow up to three days per week of outdoor water use, per the odd/even schedule.
For more information contact ERWSD Customer Service at 970-477-5451. Drought Monitor terminologyDryness CategoriesD0: Abnormally Dry – used for areas showing dryness but not yet in drought, or for areas recovering from droughtDrought Intensity CategoriesD1: Moderate DroughtD2: Severe DroughtD3: Extreme DroughtD4: Exceptional Drought # # #