Reservoirs Help in Flood Prevention

By: Jeff Morrow Email
By: Jeff Morrow Email

This past winter the Western Slope saw above average snowfall causing some flooding concerns.

But where does all that snow go when it melts? Well most of it ends up in the area's reservoirs which are used to try to control flooding. While high amounts of rain have caused flooding in the Midwest and Ohio River Valleys.

Jim Pringle with the National Weather Service says in Colorado the flooding risk is from mountain runoff. Pringle says, "We also issue flood warnings when waters rise above bank full into the flood stage and start flooding during the spring snow melt season."

Many snowpacks are at 10 year highs. Dan Crabtree says the Bureau of Reclamation is working overtime to make room for the additional runoff. Crabtree says, "We've been increasing our releases this year from Blue Mesa Reservoir Aspinall Unit to make room for this increase runoff we're seeing this year."

Even with the increases the national weather service is still worried. They anticipate issuing some flood watches and flood warnings on account of the snow melt.

The Bureau of Reclamation expects 1 million acre feet of runoff just from April to July. Crabtree says, "One acre foot is about 326,000 gallons so you multiply that times a million and that's how many gallons we're talking about in runoff." Crabtree says one family of four uses about 1 acre foot of water in a year.

The Ute Water Conservancy District wants to remind water users that higher snowpacks do not necessarily reflect an abundant water supply for the community. Abundance will typically rely on the temperatures and rainfall in April and May.

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