Falling water levels affect recovery in Blue Mesa | news
Recreation seekers on the Blue Mesa Reservoir can expect the effects of sinking water levels in the coming months as releases are made to replenish the amount of water in Lake Powell.
As the waterline drops at Blue Mesa, visitors should expect boat ramps, marina slides, and other related facilities to close in August, the National Park Service said in a recent press release. The agency manages the Curecanti National Recreation Area, which includes the reservoir, the largest body of water in the state.
“The National Park Service intends to maintain recreational opportunities for as long as possible, in balance with the safety of boaters and taking into account the adaptation of our infrastructure. Docks have to be relocated, fuel lines disconnected and floating toilets … removed, “the agency said in its release.
The Bureau of Reclamation recently announced plans to lower the water levels at Blue Mesa, the Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Utah-Wyoming border, and Navajo Reservoir on the Colorado-New Mexico border, to aid Lake Powell. The Bureau of Reclamation is trying to prevent Powell from falling so low that Powell’s hydropower production and operating obligations to Arizona, California, and Nevada are jeopardized. A 1922 Interstate Compact divides the water of the Colorado River between the Upper Basin states, including Colorado, and the downstream states.
The water level at Lake Powell has just fallen to its lowest level since the reservoir began to be filled.
Water releases from the three upstream reservoirs are scheduled to come under a 2019 drought control agreement for the Upper Colorado River Basin. A total of 181,000 acre-feet of water are expected to be released by December, including 125,000 acre-feet from Flaming Gorge, 36,000 acre-feet from Blue Mesa, and 20,000 acre-feet from Navajo. Blue Mesa releases are slated to begin next month.
Blue Mesa water level is already suffering from the drought. Seasonal snowmelt runoff into the reservoir is expected to be only about 45% of the average from April to July, and the reservoir is currently only 44% full.
The publications for Powell are expected to drop Blue Mesa by two meters, Flaming Gorge by four feet, and Navajo by two feet, raising Powell’s levels by one meter.
The Park Service said Blue Mesa water levels will be 7,423 feet in elevation by the end of October, 96 feet lower than when the reservoir is full.
Park Service says Blue Mesa “will remain open for recreational activities on land and hand-launched watercraft as the boat ramps are closed. Expect muddy and unstable shorelines. Do not ride near the mudline. Be extremely careful when you go.” try to approach the reservoir nearby launching watercraft or fishing from the bank. “
The agency recommends checking their website at nps.gov/cure or the Curecanti Facebook page for the latest information.