Eric Brown

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April 4, 2014
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Weld water situation still looking good based on new snowpack report

Weld County’s water supplies are still looking good after the end of a critical snowpack month, according to a Natural Resources Conservation Service report.

Snowpack on April 1 in the South Platte River Basin — which supplies northeast Colorado — was 142 percent of historic average, according to NRCS figures released Thursday evening.

Reservoir levels were also above normal as of April 1, according to the report. Collective reservoir levels in the South Platte basin were at 108 percent of historic average.

Snowpack and reservoir measures have been at normal levels or better for a while, but many water users were reluctant to get their hopes up, for months saying there was still a long way to go before the water outlook would be clear enough for farmers and cities to know what they’d be working with during the 2014 growing season.

But those good numbers are really starting to mean something now that we’re in April, water experts said.

A healthy water supply is vital for Colorado’s agriculture industry which, according to the Colorado Division of Water Resources, uses about 85 percent of the state’s water.

And it’s especially critical for Weld County, where the ag industry makes about a $1.5 billion economic impact annually and ranks eighth nationally.

Like other water users, March is particularly critical for the ag industry, as farmers typically begin spring planting in April and make planting decisions largely based on water-supply forecasts.

In addition to being good for the South Platte basin, the NRCS report showed that water supplies are in good shape on the western side of the state, which has an impact locally.

The Colorado River Basin — which flows in the opposite direction of Greeley and Weld County but still supplies a large chunk of the region’s water needs through transmountain tunnels that cross the Continental Divide — had similar numbers to those of the South Platte basin.

Snowpack for the Colorado basin increased to 131 percent of average on April 1, while reservoir levels were 93 percent of average.

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My Windsor Now Updated Apr 5, 2014 01:23PM Published Apr 7, 2014 11:17AM Copyright 2014 My Windsor Now. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.