With a solid snowpack in all of my rivers, we’ve got a pair of solid March 1 forecasts for 2023 runoff.
102 percent at Otowi, the main forecast point for water entering New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande Valley.
Implications: While we don’t have a formal Annual Operating Plan for the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority yet, the army wavy Fleck assessment is that this means Albuquerque will be able to use river diversions all year this year, and won’t need to fall back on groundwater. +1
Note (see below) that the numbers also are good for the San Juan-Chama Project headwaters, which feed the transbasin diversion for Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.
(The New Mexico outlook reports are here, but it March isn’t posted yet. Probably somewhere on the web where I can’t find it, drop it in the comments if you know a link, I got the numbers from the NRCS email blast).
April-July unregulated inflow forecasts for some of the major reservoirs in the UCRB include Fontenelle 620 KAF (84% average), Flaming Gorge 880 KAF (91%), Green Mountain 255 KAF (91%), Blue Mesa 665 KAF (105%), McPhee 345 KAF (135%), and Navajo 735 KAF (117%). The Lake Powell inflow forecast is 8.0 MAF (125% of average), which is a 500 KAF increase from February
Implications: The Powell numbers reduce the pressure for crisis actions, create an opportunity to hold water back in Flaming Gorge and the other Upper Basin reservoirs that have been somewhat depleted by Drought Response Operations Agreement actions, maybe make the paper move of water held back last year in Powell down to Mead. Combined with the cabin-crushing snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, this also could give the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California some breathing room to leave more water in Mead, though the politics are complicated right now around all of this because of all the pissed off-ness and dysfunction in the basin.