Blizzard hasn’t quenched Denver’s thirst |

Blizzard hasn’t quenched Denver’s thirst

Greg Masse
Post Independent Staff

Colorado’s blizzard of ’03 was big enough to bury cars and close down much of Colorado’s urban corridor. But despite this deep, moist snowfall, Colorado’s largest water utility, Denver Water, is still expected to seek a reduction in the Shoshone Hydroelectric Power Plant’s Colorado River water call in order to fill reservoirs that supply H2O to the urban corridor.

A tentative agreement was reached March 12 between Denver Water and the Colorado River Water Conservation District to allow spring runoff that normally flows down the Colorado River to be used instead to fill half-empty reservoirs.

The plan, which would allow flows to be reduced from March 21 to May 21, is expected to be voted upon by the river district’s board of directors on Friday.

“I don’t think this storm would have an effect one way or another,” river district spokesman Peter Roessmann said Wednesday. “The storm seems to be dumping most of its moisture on the east side of the Continental Divide.”

The moisture from the storm is good news for the parched Front Range and Eastern Plains, but the water from the call reduction is aimed at filling Western Slope reservoirs.

“Hopefully the Front Range’s reservoirs have a better chance of filling,” Roessmann said.

If the Shoshone plan is approved by the river district, it’s up to Denver Water and Xcel Energy, the owner of the power plant and the senior water right, to finalize the deal.

This week’s storm brought many of the U.S.D.A.’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Snotel sites – places with meters that measure how much snowpack there is – up to and above the average snowpack for this time of year. Especially sites on the Front Range.

Here in the Western Slope some snow fell, but the snowpack is still somewhat below average. From Monday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon, Sunlight Mountain Resort received 7 inches of snow, while Aspen, Vail and Powderhorn mountains each were slammed with 16 inches.

The Upper Colorado River Basin was listed at 94 percent of average on Wednesday and the Roaring Fork River Basin was down to 83 percent of average.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

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