Bureau of Reclamation projects Lake Mead to stay above shortage trigger
BULLHEAD CITY — The Bureau of Reclamation has updated its 24-month study projections for the reservoirs throughout the Colorado River Basin which includes Lake Powell and Hoover Dam-Lake Mead.
According to the BOR, the snowpack in the Upper Basin is nearly 140% above average as of April 15 and it forecasts that seasonal inflow to Lake Powell will be at 128% of average.
“We are pleased to see the above average snowpack conditions in the Upper Basin and the improvement in the inflow forecast for Lake Powell,” said Brent Rhees, BOR’s Upper Colorado regional director. “Significant risks and uncertainty persist and storage at Lake Powell remains essential to the overall well being of the basin.”
The BOR, based on April’s 24-month study, projected Lake Powell to release up to 9 million acre-feet in water year 2019. Lake Powell’s elevation at the end of the calendar year is projected to be 3,607.49 feet above sea level.
“These developments may lessen the chance of shortage in 2020,” Terry Fulp, BOR’s Lower Colorado regional director, said in a prepared statement. “However, one near or even above average year will not end the ongoing extended drought experienced in the Colorado River Basin and does not substantially reduce the risks facing the basin.”
In the same 24-month study, the BOR stated that Lake Mead’s elevation at the end of the 2019 calendar year is projected to be at 1,084.72 feet above sea level, nearly 10 feet above the shortage determination trigger of 1,075 feet.
The BOR said that operating tiers for Lake Powell in the water year 2020 and operating condition for Lake Mead in the calendar year 2020 will be determined based on the projected conditions on Jan. 1, 2020, as reported in this coming August’s 24-month study.