Nov 1, 2013
by WLJ

“Silver lining behind historic flooding” (September 30) misrepresents Colorado’s hydrology and geology.

Colorado’s mountain snowfall is elevation-dependent and accumulates in nearly equal amounts on the east and west faces of the Continental Divide. Snowfall is greater in the mountains than in the plains and accounts for much of the difference in annual precipitation between the east and west; April to September rainfall totals are comparable between the east and west.

Northeastern Colorado’s Ogallala aquifer underlies the Republican River basin that received only moderate rains during the series of storms. Virtually none of the South Platte River drainage in Colorado is underlain by that aquifer. Colorado’s Ogallala aquifer will have no increased recharge from flooding in the South Platte River basin, and Colorado will get little credit in the Republican River Compact Settlement Agreement for increased flow in the Republican River or recharge to the underlying Ogallala aquifer.

The devastating flooding was mostly in Colorado. The “silver linings” named will occur in Nebraska. That will be small consolation for thousands in Colorado who suffered devastating losses from floods.

Finally, the National Weather Service description of the rains as “biblical” only shows that they failed to consult the Book of Genesis. — Kenneth L. Wahl, P.E.

(Wahl is a Colorado rancher and a civil engineer with 50 years of hydrologic experience.)