John Martin Dam Water Elevation When at 316,600 a/f 2018

Drought Free Colorado


Water Year 2018 (Oct 2017- Sept 2018) was the warmest and second driest on record for Colorado, with significant loss to crops and livestock, and multiple large wildfires. Since the onset of the drought and throughout 2018, the State’s Drought Task Force, in collaboration with the Agricultural Impact Task Force has been closely watching conditions and the impacts to all sectors- actively engaged in drought response efforts. Back in October we hoped for a banner snow accumulation season to replenish our reservoirs, parched soils, and put us on a road to recovery– wow did we get it!

Since the start of Water Year 2019, Colorado has experienced a dramatic change in conditions with persistent moisture and near normal temperatures. Snow accumulation has continued well into May, enabling ski areas to remain open far longer than anticipated. The snow and spring rains have resulted in significant drought improvements statewide; with an 82% reduction in drought & dry conditions since Jan 1, drought concerns in even the most heavily impacted regions have been eliminated. In fact, conditions have improved so much that for the first time in the 19 year history of the US Drought Monitor, Colorado is completely free of all drought and abnormally dry conditions.

Reservoirs, half emptied last year are returning to normal levels, and water providers are not anticipating watering restrictions. Perhaps most encouraging is that large wildfire risk for May through August is average to below average because of these cool and wet conditions, and the fact that long-range forecasts indicate an increased likelihood of wetter than average conditions for both the one and three month timeframes.

As a result, Governor Polis, in consultation with the Drought Task Force, has deactivated the state’s Drought Mitigation and Response Plan as well as the Agricultural Impact Task Force. While formal drought response efforts have concluded, we will continue to assess the economic impact of last years drought with results expected later this summer.

We know, even as we revel in all this moisture, that the next drought is always just out of sight and that in Colorado we must always remain good stewards of our most precious resource.

(Source: June 2019 CWCB Confluence Newsletter)


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