How Bad Are Colorado's Snow Depths?

January 20 2010, 10:36 AM

Some ski resorts may be promoting plenty of snow, but overall, the Colorado high country needs more, says Dave Merritt, a member of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, a group that works to help the state get all the water to which it is entitled. "We're running way behind in snow pack," Merritt says (via the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent). As snow melts in spring, it fills reservoirs, ditches, and rivers that run all the way to the Gulf of California. On Monday, Merritt told Garfield County commissioners the snow depths in the Colorado River basin are "a little bit better than 2002 right now." That's not good: 2002 was "essentially the worst year we've had on record" for snow depths. Other basins are at less than 80 percent, and Merritt says state water officials, worried about the prospect of another record drought year, already are discussing whether there will be sufficient water to raise Lake Powell in Utah above its present level of 60 percent full. The lake is a reservoir that serves as storage for the seven Western states that belong to the Colorado River Compact of 1922. Meanwhile, last week a judge overturned a deal allowing California to transfer enough water for millions of families from farm use to city use. The transfer would have allowed California to enter into a landmark 2007 agreement with Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming on managing the Colorado River during droughts, writes the Associated Press. An appeal is planned.