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Reservoirs dropping as drought concerns rise

5:47 PM, Feb 18, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - One look at the Dillon Reservoir will tell you why Denver Water is making plans for the worst. The reservoir is one of the primary water sources for Denver and other communities in the metro area.

"Currently, our reservoirs are sitting at about 63 percent full and normally this time of year we'd see them at 80 percent," Travis Thompson with Denver Water said.

The hot and dry conditions that persisted through last year forced Denver Water to declare a stage one drought last spring. They asked customers to voluntarily cut back on water use. If conditions continue to worsen voluntary may become mandatory.

"We're working on what a stage two drought would look like right now and what that would look like for our customers," Thompson said. "If we did go to stage two drought we would ask our customers to cut back their outdoor water use with mandatory water days and times."

The concerns are not limited to Denver. In Northern Colorado the diminished status of water storage is also of grave concern.

"Our storage is about 75 percent for what we would consider normal for this time of year. It's looking pretty bad," Dana Strongin with the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District said.

The water storage levels have gotten so low there is concern about whether normal spring moisture will be enough to curb the drought conditions.

"We look over time and the snow pack has been dire now for the entire season. We had a little blip on the screen that improved things, especially for the northwest and southwest parts of the state with the little storms we had this month, but otherwise we're really looking at not being able to catch up this year," Strongin said. "As far as we see it, to get past this we would need extraordinary levels of precipitation to come our way and the outlook for that is pretty dire."

Strongin says while the prospects for a prolonged drought will have an impact on residential water users the impact on farmers will be significant. Last year's drought placed many Colorado farms in a declared disaster situation. With water storage much lower this year going into the planting season it could be worse.

"They really need as much as possible to even plant their crop and get them growing. So it is possible we'll have some farmers who don't even plant this year," Strongin said.

For more information and tips for conserving water visit Denver Water's website at:

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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