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Winter’s snowy gift

Denver Water employees weigh a sample of snow captured in a hollow tube to calculate how much water it contains. Photo credit: Denver Water.

Since 90% of our water supply comes from snow, counting snowflakes and the frozen water they hold is serious business at Denver Water

Our planners use information gathered through the winter to calculate how much water might flow into our storage reservoirs in the spring. This helps determine if additional watering restrictions might be needed during the summer.

Airborne data collection: Planes stuffed with high-tech equipment fly over hundreds of square miles of mountain snowdrifts and provide information about the snow below.

Boots on the ground: January through April, our crews snowshoe — or ride snowcats and snowmobiles — into the forests in Grand, Summit and Park counties to measure the snow’s depth and weight.

Silent sentries: More than 900 snow telemetry sites, or SNOTELs, across the Western U.S. report the weight of the snow falling on a sensor many times a day, providing information about how much water the snow contains. Our planners use 15 SNOTEL sites throughout our collection system.