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 Dec. 5, 2016

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 November, the average temperature was well above average, as measured at the airport. Precipitation was well below normal for the month at the airport.
  • The Drought Monitor shows drier conditions are moving into Colorado with drought conditions persisting across the front range and lower Arkansas Valley.
  • We currently have 2.7 years of demand in storage.
  • Long range forecasts predict hotter and dryer than normal conditions to persist through the next 8 to 12 weeks.
  • Conditions predicted to improve in our mountain watersheds in the January through March timeframe.
  • We are monitoring streamflow, demand and storage to maximize the available water supply.
  • Currently, the Water Shortage Ordinance is set at Stage 1 Voluntary Restrictions, which means customers are asked to continue to use water wisely.

See the full report.

Reservoir levels

Pikes Peak​ 68 percent (1981 to 2010 avg. 72 percent)​
Rampart​ 61 percent (1981 to 2010 avg. 70 percent)​
Local total​ 64 percent (1981 to 2010 avg. 71 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.)