Environmental News and Policy Alert – Update from Somach, Simmons & Dunn

June 30, 2021

Historic Drought Year Leaves Colorado River Basin Water Users High and Dry

While arid conditions have prevailed in the Colorado River Basin since the turn of the century, 2021 stands out as a particularly dry year across all of the seven basin states, and Colorado’s western slope provides insight into the depth of the drought.  Despite near- to above-average precipitation along Colorado’s Front Range/Denver-metro area this year, Colorado’s western slope is facing water supply conditions that are among the worst in generations.  The US Drought Monitor currently classifies more than 17% of the state, all on the western slope, as experiencing “Exceptional Drought,” which means that possible impacts include widespread crop losses and water shortages creating emergencies.  Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) streamflow forecasts for many of Colorado’s western slope streams predict that annual runoff volumes will be less than 50 percent of average, some even below 30 percent of average.  If you are a water user in the Colorado River Basin whose use has been or might be curtailed, you may be looking for solutions in what is likely to be a drought year of record. … Read More

Written by Daniel J. Condren