Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Groundwater a Huge Factor in Sustaining Colorado River Flows

By Garry Rogers @Garry_Rogers

Groundwater a huge factor in sustaining Colorado River flowsSummit County Citizens Voice

New study helps resource managers plan for climate change

Evening clouds along the Yampa River in northwestern Colorado.
Groundwater is a huge factor in assessing climate change impacts on the Colorado River. @bberwyn photo.

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Resource managers need as much information as possible about Colorado River flows to make sustainable management decisions.

Staff Report

Resource managers grappling with the vexing question of how to allocate Colorado River water to the thirsty cities, ranches and farms of the Southwest have some new food for thought. A new U.S. Geological Survey study published this week in the journal Water Resources Research shows that more than half the streamflow in Upper Colorado River Basin originates as groundwater.

The information is especially important in the context of how climate change — through increased temperatures and evaporation, as well as changing precipitation patterns — will affect the river. One recent study, for example, showed that warmer spring temperatures are reducing flows independently of winter…

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