WESTERN SAN JUANS – A new $1 million study suggests snowier and rainier winters in the northern mountains and drier ones in the southern mountains by the mid-21st century. But everywhere across the Western Slope, summers will be hotter, longer and drier, putting more stress on reservoirs.Those tentative conclusions are found in the draft Colorado River Water Availability Study, a $1 million effort described by state water officials, who commissioned it, as cutting edge.“I don’t know of any other state that is putting the time, resources and money into this,” said Jennifer Gimbel, executive director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, a state agency charged with overseeing protection and development of Colorado’s waters. About three-quarters of the state’s water originates west of the Continental Divide, in the headwaters of the Colorado River and its tributaries, much of it in the form of snow.“This breaks new ground,” said Eric Kuhn, executive director of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, an agency based in Glenwood Springs. “Will it happen that way? We don’t know. But from a planning perspective, there is good information from these models.”
By Allen Best, May 27, 2010 Telluride Watch

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