Drought Stages

This Drought Preparedness Plan includes Drought Watch, Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3, as described below. See the Drought Preparedness and Indicator Charts for more information.

Drought Preparedness Plan Presentation - September 2020 (1)



Drought Watch

Drought will be declared when indicators point to conditions that are abnormally dry. A drought watch will increase communication to County residents and visitors to alert them that water supplies and streamflows are below average, conditions are dry, and continued dry weather could lead to mandatory watering restrictions.

Indicators:

  • Snowpack/snow‐water equivalent is less than 90% of average on April 30th.
  • Streamflows are less than 90% of average June 1st through September 1st. Flows will be checked at Fraser River @ Winter Park, Fraser River @ Granby, Colorado River @ Windy Gap, Colorado River @ Hot Sulphur Springs, and Colorado River near Kremmling.
  • The US Drought Monitor Index has Grand County in abnormally dry (DO) conditions.
  • Weekly average stream temperatures on the Fraser River at Crooked Creek or at the Colorado River at the USGS gage above the confluence with the Williams Fork River exceed 65 degrees F.
  • Neighboring West Slope counties or Front Range entities using water diverted from Grand County rivers are in drought watch response.
  • Grand County residents believe that a Drought Watch and its corresponding actions are appropriate.

Recommended Responses:

  • Increase communication and outreach to residents and stakeholders to explain that Grand County is beginning to see indicators of drought.
  • Encourage residents to continue to use water efficiently and provide suggestions for further reducing water use in order to reduce the risk of progression to mandatory restrictions.
  • Warn of and prepare for the possibility of mandatory watering restrictions.
  • Enhance water use education.


Stage 1 Recommendations

Stage 1 recommends watering reductions and efforts on the part of all Grand County residents. This is the first stage during which the Drought Preparedness Committee will begin making recommendations to water providers and users.

Indicators:

  • Watershed characteristics such as precipitation, snowpack, streamflow, stream temperature, wind, and soil moisture indicate severe and prolonged dryness.
  • Circumstances warrant possible adverse impacts on water‐dependent businesses.
  • Snowpack is less than 80% of average on April 30th.
  • Streamflows are less than 80% of average June 1st through September 1st. Flows will be checked at Fraser River @ Winter Park, Fraser River @ Granby, Colorado River @ Windy Gap, Colorado River @ Hot Sulphur Springs, and Colorado River near Kremmling.
  • The US Drought Monitor Index has Grand County in moderate drought (D1) conditions.
  • Weekly average stream temperatures on the Fraser River at Crooked Creek or at the Colorado River at the USGS gage above the confluence with the Williams Fork River exceed 68 degrees F. Other West Slope counties or Front Range entities that divert water from Grand County are already in a stage 1 response.

Use Reduction Target: Sport fields, parks, golf courses, and agriculture will be encouraged through education and outreach to reduce water use.

Stage 1 Recommendations: See Drought Preparedness Program Elements.


Stage 2 Recommendations

This is a more severe level of drought and recommendations from the Drought Preparedness Committee will be more stringent as outlined in the recommended Drought Preparedness Program Elements.

Indicators:

  • Percent of snowpack is less than 65% of average on April 30th.
  • Streamflows are less than 65% of average June 1st through September 1st. Flows will be checked at Fraser River @ Winter Park, Fraser River @ Granby, Colorado River @ Windy Gap, Colorado River @ Hot Sulphur Springs, and Colorado River near Kremmling. The US Drought Monitor Index has Grand County in severe drought (D2) conditions.
  • Weekly average stream temperatures on the Fraser River at Crooked Creek or at the Colorado River at the USGS gage above the confluence with the Williams Fork River exceed 71 degrees F. State water officials have declared a drought emergency for the Grand County region.
  • Grand County residents believe that severe water‐use restrictions are appropriate.
  • Other West Slope counties or Front Range municipalities diverting water from Grand County have already declared a stage 2 drought.

Use Reduction Target: Sport fields, parks, golf courses, and agriculture will be encouraged to further reduce water use through education and outreach.

Drought Pricing: Municipal water providers may choose to use drought pricing as a tool to help reduce water use.

Stage 2 Recommendations: See Drought Preparedness Program Elements.


Stage 3 Recommendations

Stage 3 indicates exceptionally dry conditions and will recommend water rationing. Conditions that would lead to a Stage 3 drought are highly unlikely. However, if conditions warrant, the Drought Preparedness Committee would make recommendations as outlined in the recommended Drought Preparedness Program Elements. Outdoor watering may not be allowed, and indoor water use may be restricted. Stage 3 drought recommendations could affect the quality of life in Grand County and will result in the long term loss of landscapes.

Indicators:

  • Percent of snowpack is less than 50% on April 30th.
  • Streamflows are less than 50% of average June 1st through September 1st. Flows will be checked at Fraser River @ Winter Park, Fraser River @ Granby, Colorado River @ Windy Gap, Colorado River @ Hot Sulphur Springs, and Colorado River near Kremmling. The US Drought Monitor Index has Grand County in an extreme (D3) drought or exceptional (D4) drought.
  • Weekly average stream temperatures on the Fraser River at Crooked Creek or at the Colorado River at the USGS gage above the confluence with the Williams Fork River exceed 74 degrees F.
  • News media are sending messages that we are in exceptionally dry conditions.
  • Grand County Residents believe that we are in exceptionally dry conditions.
  • Elected officials are calling for water rationing.
  • The situation suggests that severe impacts to water‐dependent businesses are unavoidable.
  • Other West Slope counties and Front Range entities diverting water from Grand County are already in Stage 3 restrictions.

Use Reduction Target: Municipal water users, sports fields, and parks will reduce water consumption by 40%. Golf courses and agriculture will reduce water use as much as possible while still maintaining the viability of their business.

Drought Pricing: Drought pricing is recommended for Stage 3 restrictions.

Stage 3 Recommendations (See Drought Preparedness Program Elements):

  • No outside municipal water use.
  • Indoor water rationing.
  • Golf courses and agriculture will reduce water use as much as possible while still maintaining the viability of their business. Agriculture interests are encouraged to participate in an instream flow program so that water rights are not endangered.
  • Other recommendations to be determined at a future drought management plan meeting and/or Drought Preparedness Committee meeting.