May 24, 2012--Wariness in wake of low snowpack (Durango Telegraph)

As mountain towns in Colorado move into summer, they continue to consider what lies ahead as the result of the incredibly low snowpack this year. By some measures, the drought is far worse than the epic summer of 2002. In 2002, says The Aspen Times, the Roaring Fork River was reduced to a “series of puddles connected by a trickle of water.” As a result, new legislation was adopted in Colorado that allows water-rights owners to donate their water to the river without fear of losing legal entitlements. Administrators of the White River National Forest, which includes the Aspen, Vail and Breckenridge ski areas, warn of heightened risk from wildfires. “Everything’s lining up for a fire season that could be pretty severe,” forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams told local officials in Aspen last week. Soil moisture in Aspen is at 5 to 10 percent, whereas average is at 60 to 70 percent, he said. Drought conditions are predicted for western Colorado through July. At issue, too, is whether water agencies should ration supplies. Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, was quoted recently as saying that agencies should be more aggressive in restricting outdoor water use.

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