Water outlook & drought

 Water outlook & drought

As your local water provider, we have a responsibility to protect your water supply and help ensure the health, safety and economic vitality of our community. We carefully monitor several factors, including levels of our reservoirs, snowpack and forecasted stream flow.

As of May 5, 2015

Current reservoir levels
System wide, total water storage is at 78 percent of capacity, which is 4 percent above average (1981 through 2010).

Current situation
In April, the average temperature was above average and precipitation was below average as measured at the airport. Snowpack made a moderate recovery in April. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows the development of moderate to severe drought in western Colorado. The southern part of the state remains in moderate to severe drought.

We have 2.6 years of demand in storage.

Lower demands have kept storage levels higher than expected. Above average yield was experienced throughout our system in 2014. Snowpack levels are currently below average; however, with current storage and expected yields, we expect to maintain above average storage.

Currently, the Water Shortage Ordinance is set at Stage 1 Voluntary Restrictions, which means customers are asked to continue to use water wisely. At this time, we do not anticipate mandatory water restrictions for 2015; however, we always encourage the wise use of water.

See the full report.

Reservoir levels

Pikes Peak​ 69 percent (1981 to 2010 avg. 68 percent)​
Rampart​ 95 percent (1981 to 2010 avg. 89 percent)​
Local total​ 85 percent (1981 to 2010 avg. 81 percent)​
​System total ​78 percent (1981 to 2010 avg. 74 percent)


How does Colorado Springs Utilities determine that we are in are in a drought?
There are a variety of factors used to determine when we are in a drought including: long range forecasts, storage levels, snowpack, operational constraints, soil moisture and others. If total system storage is projected to be below 1.5 years of demand in storage on April 1 then the results are reported to the City Council with a recommendation for implementation of water shortage response measures.

How do we determine what Water Shortage Ordinance stage we are in?
Our water supply staff create a forecast of water storage levels.  If the forecast shows that storage will get below our risk tolerance threshold of one year of demand in storage, experts estimate how much water savings will be needed to keep us at or near that threshold. Each stage of drought response has a corresponding estimate of expected water savings associated with it. We set the Water Shortage Ordinance stage by matching the amount of savings needed with the amount of savings expected from the various stages.

(Click on image to enlarge or for more information from NOAA.)