The Grand Water and Sewer Service Agency has informed irrigation water users that, due to low water levels in Ken’s Lake, the start of the irrigation water season is likely to be delayed even further, possibly as late as April 22.
GWSSA Manager Mark Sovine said a letter, dated March 25, was mailed out to the agency’s nearly 170 irrigation customers on Friday, March 22. The letter was a follow-up to a Feb. 21 correspondence sent out by the GWSSA informing customers of possible delays and restrictions for the 2013 water year.
“The lake is still essentially empty,” Sovine said this week.
The Ken’s Lake reservoir had a measured level of 368 acre-feet as of March 19, only slightly up from a month ago and still far below the average of 1,300 acre-feet typically found in March. The lake’s current levels are the lowest ever on record for March, Sovine added.
“We’re supposed to be starting the system now, but there’s just not any water yet,” he said, noting that the spring runoff has not yet begun.
Sovine said while there has been some melting of the snowpack in the La Sal Mountains to date, much of it has been absorbed into the ground. “The ... saturation level has gone from 7 percent to 20 percent,” he said.
The measurement of snow water equivalent is currently 11.3 inches, less than an inch below the average of 12.1 inches, according to Sovine. He said the total year-to-date precipitation is currently 14.6 inches, which is below the average of 17.9 inches.
Eventually, as the weather warms, the reservoir should begin to fill, he said.
Even after irrigation water does become available, users are likely to face restrictions similar to those last year, when a 40 percent reduction was imposed, meaning that users were allocated 60 percent of their usual allotment of irrigation water, Sovine said.
Sovine said he expects similar restrictions will also be imposed for 2013, but noted, “That is subject to change, based on conditions.”
The March 25 GWSSA letter indicates that all of Grand County is currently considered to be in a “severe” drought classification, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and also states that the National Climate Center forecasts little or no additional precipitation for the area during the last month of possible snowfall.
The GWSSA board, which discussed the issue at its March 21 meeting, is scheduled to address the topic again at its next regular meeting, scheduled for Thursday, April 4, at 7 p.m., at the GWSSA office, 3025 E. Spanish Trail Road.
While he has not received any complaints or concerns regarding the information in the letter sent out last week, Sovine said concerned irrigation customers are welcome to attend the April 4 meeting, contact the agency, or visit the www.grandwater.org website for further information.
“We will continue to monitor the water situation and notify you in advance of the exact start-up date and restrictions,” Sovine wrote in the letter.