While May precipitation lessened drought severity in Colorado, the entire Arkansas River Basin continues to experience drought conditions – ranging from Abnormally Dry in parts of Chaffee, Fremont, Teller, El Paso and Pueblo counties to Exceptional Drought in part of Baca County – according to the latest latest U.S. Drought Monitor report.
The National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) reports Arkansas Basin snowpack, measured as snow-water equivalent, just above median at 101% as of May 5.
Current reservoir data from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation show Pueblo Reservoir is 63.4% full as of June 6 with 204,906 acre-feet
of water in storage. Twin Lakes Reservoir is 77.9% full at 109,793 acre-feet. Turquoise Lake is currently 63.5% full and stores 82108.8 acre-feet of water, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers data show 27,042 acre-feet of water currently stored in John Martin Reservoir.
Arkansas River flows appear to have reached their peak for 2022 with current flows of 164 cfs near Leadville, 1,030 cfs below Granite, 1,380 cfs at Wellsville and 1,500 cfs at Cañon City. Below Pueblo Dam and near Avondale, flows are 1,350 cfs and 1,640 cfs, respectively. Flows are 584 cfs near Rocky Ford and 623 cfs below John Martin Reservoir. At Lamar, flows are currently 106 cfs. Voluntary Flow Management Program releases from upper basin reservoirs are on track begin in 3-1/2 weeks to support recreational boating.
Currently, the Arkansas Basin has 12 active calls. Four calls are on the mainstem – the 1887 Amity and Lamar canals, the 1889 X-Y Irrigating Ditch and the 1949 Arkansas River Compact. The most senior calling right is the Hardscrabble Ditch with an 1860 priority date on Hardscrabble Creek. The 1866 Gonzales Ditch right continues to call for Apishapa River water. Other tributary calls are the 1866 Hoehne Ditch right on the Purgatoire River, the 1867 Titsworth Ditch right on Fourmile Creek, the 1869 Sefton Ditch No. 1 right on the Huerfano River, the 1873 Denton and McAuliffe Ditch right on Wahatoya Creek, the 1880 Waggoner Ditch right on Stout Creek, and the 1884 Lake Miriam Ditch right on the Cucharas River.