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Favorable outlook for North Platte River basin

Bureau of Reclamation Wyoming Area Manager Coleman Smith

A long cold winter has meant a favorable outlook for farmers and irrigation districts. A smaller, happier crowd was on-hand this morning for the North Platte River Water Operations meeting in Scottsbluff. Bureau of Reclamation Area Manager Coleman Smith delivered the 2014 outlook.

"We are expecting just a little above average so we will be able to meet the demand of the irrigators and have a little left over at the end of the season to store for next year and that's always a good thing," Smith said.

The Bureau of Reclamation is forecasting 950 thousand acre feet infow above Seminole Reservoir. That's almost 250 thousand acre feet above the 30 year average.

In a interview with KNEB/Rural Radio Network, Smith says this will help make up for recent drought impacted years.

"The past two years 2012, 2013 were well under average and we saw that in the numbers at the end of the season where are our reservoirs Pathfinder and Seminole both at at one-third of capacity," Smith said. "This year we're expecting to come up to about 40 percent of capacity".

Currently snowpack for the Upper North Platte basin is at 127 percent, Lower North Platte is at 129, Laramie Range is at 137 percent and South Platte basin is at 142 percent. Smith says the above average outlook looks to help rebuild system storage, but how much will determine by snow and rain event between now and July.

Smith says with a more than adequate supply of water the districts that took out water loans last year will be able to replace that water without impact their water supply for this year.

With this outlook Smith says there will not be any allocations this year. Smith is confident there will be adequate water supplies for the 2014 water year and there will some water to carry over for 2015.

In the presentation, Smith shared the National Weather forecast is predicting above average temperatures for all of Wyoming with equal chances of above or below average precipitation.

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