Lack of rain, high temps could make drought worse

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCo/KJCT)-- Mesa County is in a severe drought right now and the forecasts for rain aren’t good. If things get worse, voluntary water restrictions could become mandatory.

The Colorado River is flowing at a much lower level than normal, according to experts.

"We're running at 6,500 CFS today, normally we're double that this time of the season,” said Aldis Strautins, the service hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

The low water levels and lack of snow on the Mesa are side effects.

"You're behind for many months and seasons and then that ends up and that's why we're in a severe drought,” said Strautins.

It’s from simply a lack of rain.

"We went into this year down 4 inches,” said Strautins.

Ute Water is feeling those impacts along with the other water providers in the Grand Valley.

"We made the decision to move the community into voluntary water restrictions. So at that point, we’re asking people to be very aware of their water use,” said Joseph Burtard with Ute Water.

If this drought were to get any worse, those restrictions could potentially change.

“That’s when we start to consider and evaluate mandatory water restrictions,” said Burtard.

The next two drought levels above severe are extreme and exceptional.

"We're not there yet but there is a chance we can move that way,” said Strautins."We're hoping we can get some more rainfall."

"We are really asking both commercial and residential customers to evaluate their [water] usage and turn off their ornamental fountains and maybe consider not filling up their swimming pools this summer,” said Burtard.

The water providers have all been talking about this drought for some time. Ute water and the City of Grand Junction have to pull from different sources for water, which could result in some quality changes for those customers.

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