May 2018 Streamflow & Climate Outlook

Colorado’s snowpack is melting quickly, following a lackluster winter that produced below average precipitation for the majority of the state. While streamflow forecasts for the northern part of Colorado are looking close to average, streamflow forecasts in the southern half of the state are grim. The May – July runoff forecasts from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for streams in Water Divisions 3 and 7 range from 3% to 36% of average.

The May 1 NRCS Water Supply Outlook Report also anticipates record low flows this year at several forecast points in southwest Colorado. Water Divisions 2 and 4 are in slightly better shape, but will also likely suffer from well-below average streamflow conditions. Higher elevation basins in the northern part of the state (Water Divisions 1, 5, and 6) can expect closer to average runoff conditions, but lower elevation areas will likely experience below-average streamflow conditions.

The Colorado Water Trust works to keep Colorado’s rivers healthy every year, and in years like 2018 with expected shortages, our work is vitally important. The Water Trust is the only entity in the state solely dedicated to the development of market-based transactions to benefit the natural environment and keep rivers and streams flowing. We work with willing water users to provide options for alternative water management that may offer benefits not only to streams, but also to water users. We work hard to ensure that water users are compensated at market rates for any project, in addition to offering water users significant flexibility regarding the operational terms for any agreement.

Learn more about the Water Trust’s new Request for Water Acquisitions Pilot Process with the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which provides an opportunity for water rights owners to learn more about voluntary water sharing arrangements or acquisitions that can help sustain agriculture, maximize water use, and restore rivers. This is an exciting opportunity, particularly during this dry year.

For the rest of the outlook, including all the data and charts as of May 15, please see the document below.