Governor Jared Polis has formally declared a drought emergency for western Colorado by Proclamation of the Governor as counties continue to face evolving impacts and water shortages from a multi-year, severe drought episode affecting industries and citizens.
On June 22, 2020, Phase 2 of the State's Drought Mitigation and Response Plan was activated for 40 counties and expanded to all 64 counties by September. As extreme drought and record setting fires expanded across the state, drought response moved into Phase 3 (the highest level of activation) of the State Drought Plan. Spring 2021 precipitation resulted in the stark contrast between significant drought relief for counties east of the continental divide and deepening drought and fire danger for the entire west slope.
Colorado’s Drought Task Force, Agriculture Impact Task Force, and Municipal Water Task Force will remain active and responsive to local needs and emerging concerns throughout the year. The drought emergency is declared for the following counties experiencing severe (D2) to exceptional (D4) drought conditions: Moffat, Routt, Jackson, Rio Blanco, Grand, Garfield, Eagle, Summit, Mesa, Delta, Pitkin, Gunnison, Montrose, Ouray, San Miguel, San Juan, Hinsdale, Dolores, Montezuma, La Plata, and Archuleta. Counties impacted along the continental divide in abnormally dry (D0) conditions and moderate (D1) drought will continue to be closely monitored and added to the drought emergency proclamation as appropriate.
While Colorado can face a range of shortages across the state every year, the cumulative impacts of drought stress our landscapes, reservoir storage, wildfire risks, and capacity of many water-dependent economies to rebound from previous year impacts and debts. We continue to work with our neighboring states to implement interstate agreements and consider additional potential solutions.