Pagosa still in voluntary drought stage

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    By Clayton Chaney
    Staff Writer

    Pagosa Country is still in a voluntary drought stage, according to a May 11 press release from Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) Manager Justin Ramsey.

    The voluntary drought stage was first announced in a press release on April 12.

    Ramsey notes in his May 11 press release that the area has seen “higher than normal temperatures” this spring, which “will lead to a quicker than normal melting of the snowpack reducing our available water and could lead to water use restrictions.”

    There are no water use restrictions in place under the voluntary drought stage; however, PAWSD does encourage responsible water use.

    Also outlined in Ramsey’s report are the current water levels in the local lakes.

    According to the press release, Lake Forest is 1 inch from full.

    Hatcher Lake is 2 inches from being full. 

    Stevens Lake is the lowest of the five local lakes at 18 inches from full.

    Lake Pagosa is 5 inches from full.

    The Village Lake water level is 6 inches from full.

    Total diversion flows are listed at 8 cubic feet per second (cfs).

    The West Fork diversion flow is listed at 3 cfs and the Four Mile diversion flow is listed at 5 cfs. 

    Water production from April 30 through May 6 was listed at 13.46 million gallons.

    This is down from total water production for those dates in 2020, for which production was listed as 15.15 million gallons.

    The Snowball water plant contributed 3.34 million gallons, while the Hatcher plant contributed 8.24 million gallons and the San Juan water plant contributed 1.88 million gallons.

    Last year, the Snowball water plant contributed 4.91 million gallons and the Hatcher water plant contributed 10.24 million gallons. The San Juan water plant was not used during those dates last year.

    River report

    According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the San Juan River was flowing at a rate of 684 cfs in Pagosa Springs as of 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12. 

    Based on 85 years of water records at this site, the average flow rate for this date is 1,150 cfs. 

    The highest recorded rate for this date was 3,920 cfs in 1941. The lowest recorded rate was 156 cfs, recorded in 2002.

    As of 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12, the Piedra River near Arboles was flowing at a rate of 536 cfs.

    Based on 58 years of water records at this site, the average flow rate for this date is 1,140 cfs.

    The highest recorded rate was 3,460 cfs in 1973. The lowest recorded rate was 92.7 cfs in 2002.

    Snow report

    According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Water and Climate Center’s snowpack report, the Wolf Creek summit, at 11,000 feet of elevation, had 20.8 inches of snow water equivalent as of 3 p.m. on May 12.

    That amount is 63 percent of the May 12 median for this site.

    The average snow water equivalent for this date at the Wolf Creek summit is 33.2 inches.