Reservoirs Filling, Still Below Normal
March 27, 2009
Reservoirs in the Platte and Republican river basins have been recovering over the past year and two are near or at capacity.
Platte River Reservoirs
For the first time since the late 1990s, runoff from snow melt in the upper Platte River basin was above normal. Even with improved runoff and current projections for near normal runoff in the upper Platte basin, it will take at least one more winter of normal to above normal snowfall to bring these basins back to full pool.
Wyoming Platte River reservoirs had dramatic lake level rebounds during the last year. As of March 20, Seminoe Reservoir has 515,000 ac/ft of storage compared to just under 200,000 ac/ft at this time last year. Pathfinder Reservoir has 406,000 ac/feet compared to 180,000 ac/ft at this time last year. Glendo Reservoir has 317,000 ac/ft of storage which is nearly identical to last year's total.
|Table 1. Current reservoir storage as percent of capacity.|
|Republication River System|
|Platte River System|
The total storage in the Platte River reservoir system stands at 2.1 million ac/ft compared to 4.3 million ac/ft when full. The entire system stands at 48.6% of capacity compared to 37% of capacity at this time last year. This represents a 600,000 ac/ft improvement from this time last year. With normal moisture in the Platte basin through late April, total reservoir storage could approach 2.8 million ac/ft.
Republication River Reservoirs
Republican River basin reservoirs also have seen improvement during the past year, with Harlan County Reservoir at full pool. Harry Strunk Reservoir stands at 95% of capacity, Hugh Butler Reservoir at 76% of capacity, Swanson Reservoir at 51% of capacity, and Enders Reservoir at 36% of capacity. Harry Strunk and Hugh Butler likely will fill to capacity, with an outside chance for Swanson Reservoir to reach capacity if ample moisture falls during the next six weeks. Enders Reservoir has little chance of recovery and will require several years of favorable moisture patterns before significant recovery can be expected.
Extension State Climatologist