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Jan 25 2013

Transmountain Diversions and the Drought in Colorado (Video)

“As bad as last year was and everybody complaining, this year we’re behind it; we’re worse,” Gates said. “We have less snow this year than last year. The bases at the resorts are only like 21 inches right now, which is terrible. That’s pathetic.” (Aspen Times, HT: Coyote Gulch)

In Colorado, we are in the middle of a drought. Last year was below average but this year looks even worse, less than 90% of what last year was at this time. The video this week is about the transmountain diversions used in Colorado between the western slope and the front range (east) and then a link to a video and article about some of the solutions applied in the Yampa River valley to sustain the riverine habitat during the low flows of 2012.

Transmountain Diversions explains how water moves from west to east, across the Continental Divide, to support agriculture and population on Colorado’s Front Range. About 25 percent of the Colorado River that Colorado can consume finds its way to the east side of the state. When water is used outside of its basin of origin, it is 100 percent gone. No return flows from irrigation or treatment plans bolster stream flows and become somebody else’s water supply.

The video shows the evolution of transmountain diversions and the transition of water use from agriculture to municipal. The video explores the question of future transmountain diversions to meet Front Range population growth needs and the issues the question raises. (Colorado River District)

Besides rescuing a river and its dependents, the Yampa drought-lease set a precedent in Colorado.  It was the first use of a 2003 state law, passed in part in response to the devastating 2002 drought, that allows farmers, ranchers, water districts or other entities to temporarily loan water to rivers and streams in times of need. (National Geographic)

How the Yampa River, and its Dependents, Survived the Drought of 2012

With Drought Looming, Colorado River Basin Needs Solutions (Video)

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