Water expert: Snowpack dangerously close to drought levels

Badly needed snowfall is expected in Colorado’s high country this week, but one expert says the state will need much more than the amount in the forecast to stave off drought on par with the one that marked the parched year of 2002, which saw reservoirs depleted to record-low levels and raging wildfires.


Colorado River Water Conservation District board member Dave Merritt told the Garfield County commissioners Monday that the Colorado River basin, which supplies water to much of the southwestern United States, is “way behind in snowpack” and only “a little bit better than 2002 right now,” according to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

Right now the basin is only at 72 percent of its average annual snowpack for this date, compared to 74 percent statewide. Merritt added that weather patterns could change, leading to a typically wetter March and April, which would rectify the situation to some degree.

But until that happens, stakeholders from the energy industry to the agricultural sector to skiers and rafters to people who like just green lawns should be eyeing the skies nervously.

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About the Author

David O. Williams

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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