When Forecasting the Water Year, Managers Must Strike A Delicate Balance

Feb 8, 2018

A few storms have brought some relief from this year’s very dry winter, but water managers say it’s still not easy to predict how much water will be available in the Dolores River watershed this summer.

Dolores Water Conservancy District General Manager Mike Preston tells KSJD his office is negotiating a delicate balance of weather forecasts to determine the amount of inflow to McPhee Reservoir. Current predictions say snowmelt will be on track to meet all of DWCD’s allocations. But the forecast assumes precipitation will follow the seasonal average of one storm every seven to ten days. If those storms don’t arrive, Preston says that could lead to a “modest” shortage, though water stored from last year would help lessen impacts to farmers. He says forecasts will become more refined as the season continues, but the final decision for how much water is available lies with Mother Nature.