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Deep snowpacks promise ample water supplies

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By Stephen Knapp

Although March’s warm, dry weather put a dent in statewide snowpack levels, Colorado’s spring runoff prospects are still looking up.

According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, heavy snows earlier this winter raised snow accumulations to an encouraging 135 percent of average. Last month’s below-normal precipitation knocked that figure down to 123 percent of average, but near-average and above-average runoffs are still expected across the state.

Experts predict volumes 130 percent to 160 percent of average across southern Colorado, while northern river basins should see runoffs from 100 percent to 130 percent of average. At present, South Platte River basin snowpack stands at 108 percent of average, down 7 points from this time last year.

Add to those ample snowpacks the state’s near-average reservoir storage levels, and 2008 could well be Colorado’s best year for water supplies in more than a decade.