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Climate, Water Supply, & Drought

Gore Creek & Mts

Colorado is a semi-arid, landlocked state with the highest average elevation in the United States. Elevation, combined with the presence of mountain ranges, results in large statewide differences in yearly precipitation, temperature, humidity, and wind, among other variables. This is especially true of the mountainous, high-country regions of Colorado including the Eagle River Valley. Continual climactic variations also add an element of complexity to operations, as water supply, quality, and demand are all affected.

The gradual melting of the high-country snowpack sustains the water flow in mountain streams and rivers throughout the year. Drought which results in low or insufficient snowpack produces low streamflows, which may be inadequate to fulfill an area’s normal water consumption. Although drought is a natural occurrence, its continued presence is cause for heightened awareness of the potential effects of availability of a lower-than-normal water supply. 

Water supply in Colorado and around the west continues to be a concern as the climate warms, more people move to the region, drought persists, and uses continue to be overallocated. The District continues to partner with local governments, NGO’s, businesses, and others to create comprehensive, equity-based solutions to ensure our limited water resources are used efficiently and effectively.  

Snowpack Data 

SNOTEL (Snow Telemetry) data and reports are produced from snow survey sites in the western United States that contain automated monitoring devices. These reports include information regarding snow water equivalent (how much water is contained in the snowpack), snow depth, precipitation, temperature, and other climate-related data. ERWSD monitors these sites to track annual snowpack and gauge the potential water supply conditions for the following season. 

Streamflow Data 

The District monitors streamflow levels using data from United States Geological Survey (USGS) gauges in locations pertinent to District operations. Streamflow data is used for a variety of reasons including operational strategies, water quality purposes, historical comparison, and water rights administration, among others. 

Drought Resources