With no end to the drought in sight, Steamboat Springs has joined many other Colorado communities in announcing upcoming water restrictions.
A task force composed of 17 engineers, property managers, hydrologists and city officials has embarked on its mission to help the city chart a course for millions of dollars' worth of potential improvements to its stormwater system.
Yamcolo Reservoir, with a capacity of 9,000 acre-feet of water, was tapped early in 2012 when every drop of water committed to agriculture was used.
Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District General Manager Jay Gallagher said he plans to consult City Council about invoking watering restrictions in Steamboat Springs four to six weeks earlier than in 2012.
Summer 2013 stands to be another like summer 2012, when irrigation water was in tight supply on Elk and Yampa river valleys farms and ranches.
Feathers were ruffled in August when eight irrigation ditches in the Elk River Valley were shut down because they didn’t have flow-measuring devices. This year, the Routt County CSU Extension is working to get ahead of the drought.
Time is growing short if the snowpack — water content in the standing snow — surrounding Steamboat Springs is to reach the historic norm by the end of winter.
Snowpack in river basins throughout western Colorado is well below average for Jan. 9, but the driest conditions are in the headwaters of the Roaring Fork, Fryingpan and Eagle rivers.
Planned studies that would look at potential impacts on migratory birds and raptors, ground water, a recreation management plan and a fisheries management plan could get under way in early spring with many more to follow. People have until Feb. 3 to comment on the preliminary plan.
Jay Gallagher of the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District said Monday that although the level of Fish Creek Reservoir could dip to 35 percent by April 1, he is confident the city's primary source of municipal water will fill this spring.
Routt County's proposal would have required energy companies to check for pollutants in new monitoring wells between the oil wells and water wells.
There is a chance of snow showers in the Elkhead Mountains along the Colorado-Wyoming border in northwest Routt County sometime after midnight Wednesday.
The Elk River got a bounce out of last week’s twin snowstorms but is not faring as well as the Yampa.
Engineers are trying to determine why the dam at the reservoir between Steamboat Springs and Kremmling is settling faster than expected. Denver Water controls 40 percent of the water in Wolford Mountain Reservoir.
Water samples are being tested for chemical content, nutrients, E. coli and alkalinity, among other properties.