How Much Of All That Rain Does Colorado Actually Get To Keep?
By Kareem Maddox
Jun 16, 2015
This past May was Colorado's rainiest in recorded history. Though many Coloradans were frustrated by the soggy spring, 18 other states and the country of Mexico were likely pleased. That's because a lot of the rain that falls in Colorado goes to them.
James Eklund is the director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. He explained how interstate compacts, and the infrastructure between Lake Powell, in Utah and Arizona, and Lake Mead, in Nevada, determine how much water leaves the state.
Click the audio player above to hear the full conversation, and read highlights below.
On how much water Colorado gets to keep:
"A third of the water in Colorado is what we get to keep and two-thirds has to go downstream to one of these other states. We've talked about this before, but 18 downstream states and Mexico rely on water from Colorado snow pack and precipitation."
On the wettest May in Colorado history:
"Just by virtue of the May rain, at Chatfield Reservoir we've risen 10 feet in storage, so that's 27,000 acre-feet of storage to 43,000 acre-feet of storage. That's a big bump up. So this amount of water is a lot of ways unprecedented. I was just looking at a map of the states and we in Colorado have enjoyed the wettest May in recorded history. So, I think it's 221 years we've been keeping records and this is the wettest May we've seen."
On whether all that rain means the end of drought:
"As much rain as we are seeing, we are only putting the proverbial drop in the bucket compared to the amount of shortfall we've seen in the drought over the last several decades."
On a continued need for water conservation:
"You can't talk about storage without talking about conservation in the same breath. And we've got to make all this rain doesn't deter us from conserving water and aggressively conserving in metro areas conserving water. We got to get better as a state at doing that and having a conversation about it. We got to be more agile at building storage so we can capture that water in years like this one."