CLEAR CREEK COUNTY - At the Grizzly Creek Galley in Georgetown photographer Gary Haines's pictures will show you every Colorado season. But in a town on the banks of Clear Creek, a creek that in past years has had minor flooding, these days the photographer is eyeing the growing snowpack, wondering what kind of picture the runoff season will look like this spring.
"We have had a lot more snowfall than last winter - a harsher winter depending on the spring runoff. We could have a lot of water come in," said Haines.
He's trying to frame up the kind of spring Colorado rivers will have. Snow surveyors from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, local water managers and Sen. Michael Bennett made a point to check out a snow survey sight on Berthoud Pass for the same reasons.
"It's important that we have an informed view," said Bennett.
Putting on snowshoes and hiking into the powder, they watched as the snowpack in that area was measured, coming in at 77 inches. Then calculations were made to see exactly how much water is in the snow, which came out to be about 140 percent above average. That's good news for central Colorado but down south snowpack levels are down as much as 90 percent. So the question many are asking is how much water will eventually come down to fill reservoirs around the state.
"We are standing on a place that's had a really good snowpack this year - southwest Colorado, southeast Colorado. We are still facing significant droughts and farmers and ranchers are looking to this data," said Bennett.
Overall water storage in Colorado reservoirs are below average but in some case's reservoirs are being lowered to make room for more spring runoff.
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