Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lake Mead water level to increase 20-feet with increased water flow from Lake Powell by feds

Kip White in The Department of the Interior announced Tuesday that over the next six months, the Bureau of Reclamation expects to release a projected additional 3,330,000 acre-feet of water from Lake Powell in Utah and Arizona to Lake Mead in Nevada. This new projection, boosted by a significant snowpack in the Upper Basin of the Colorado River, supplements the previously projected release of 8,230,000 acre-feet for a total of 11,560,000 acre-feet to fulfill the guidelines of the historic agreement reached between the Department and the seven Colorado River Basin States in 2007.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said, “Drought conditions over the past 11 years had raised the possibility of water shortages in the Lower Basin over the next year, but thanks to good precipitation, wise planning, and strong collaboration among the states, we are able to release additional water and avert those shortages."

…“The Colorado River is an important resource for seven states in the Southwest as well as Mexico,” said Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science Anne Castle. “Continued engagement between the seven Colorado River Basin states and the Department of the Interior has ensured the management process continues to function as planned and will continue to be essential. Today’s announcement demonstrates the importance of having operational rules in place to guide management of the Colorado River under varying conditions.”

In noting that total releases in Water Year 2011 (which ends September 30, 2011) are now projected to total 11,560,000 acre-feet, Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor pointed out that the current April-through- July inflow forecast for Lake Powell from the spring runoff is 9,500,000 acre-feet, which is 120 percent of average. This is also an increase of 300,000 acre-feet over the March 2011 inflow forecast.

“The Colorado River Basin has experienced historic drought, and while this winter’s snowpack will benefit river flows, we cannot say that the drought is over,” cautioned Commissioner Connor. “Given the potential for extended dry years, and the effects of climate change on snowpack and runoff in the Colorado Basin, we must continue to work with the states, tribes and other stakeholders in the Basin to meet the water needs in the future.”…

Shot just downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam, which holds back Lake Powell, by Brian Thomas, under the Creative Commons 3.0 license

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