With most of the state only dreaming of a white Christmas, on Dec. 25, 2017, caretakers at Dillon Reservoir woke up to their very own Frosty the Snowman.
Snow is always an exciting sight for Denver’s water managers, as snowpack in the watersheds surrounding mountain reservoirs, like Dillon, feeds the water supply for 1.4 million people in the metro area.
Unfortunately, this was the last measurable snow around Dillon until this past weekend, where the storms left snowpack in Denver Water’s collection system slightly below average at 89 percent of normal in the Upper South Platte watershed and 87 percent of normal in the Upper Colorado River watershed.
Not where water managers want it to be, but it could be worse. Snowpack in Denver Water’s collection system is faring better than some parts of the state, which is tied for the worst start in 33 years.
But it’s not all bad news for Denver Water’s supply. Reservoir levels are in great shape after a couple of good snowpack years and continued efficient water use by customers throughout the Denver metro area. The water storage supply system currently sits around 88 percent full, higher than the 83 percent full that’s typical this time of year.
And, if there is one thing we all know about Colorado weather, it’s that it can change in the blink of an eye. Like in 2013, when snowpack levels were 6 feet behind what would have been considered “normal” for that time of year, and by the end of May, watersheds received enough snow and precipitation to eclipse the normal mark.
Bottom line: It’s too soon to speculate on snow totals or reservoir operations for the year because it’s still early in the snow season. But know that water managers are nimble. They are always watching and preparing to adapt to the changing Colorado conditions.
You can help too! Continuing to use water efficiently keeps more water in the storage system, which will help if this is in fact the beginning of Denver’s next drought.
Let’s just hope that we’ll all be building more snowmen in the New Year.