Lake Powell could reach critically low water levels by July – CBS Denver
(CBS4) – The latest projections by the US Bureau of Reclamation on river flow and reservoir storage suggest that Lake Powell surface levels will fall to the “power pool” mark and that the power-generating turbines of Glen Canyon Dam are at risk as early as July damaged next year.
“As a result of this update, the average water year 2022 inflow forecast into Lake Powell decreased by 800,000 acre-feet,” USBR said in a press release distributed Thursday.
CONTINUE READING: Trace the Blue Mesa to help the arid west
Lake Powell is the key element of the Colorado River Storage Project. It is a major contributor to the water supply and power grid in the American Southwest
It depends on water sources in Colorado and the neighboring states.
But Lake Powell’s current water level is the lowest since it was first filled almost 60 years ago.
The power pool mark is at 3,490 feet. On Saturday the reservoir measured 3,545 feet. That is 29 percent of the capacity described as full capacity.
“We have had tough decisions to make this year, and we will all have to make tougher decisions if it stays dry next year to protect Lake Mead and Lake Powell,” said Jacklynn Gould, Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Basin regional director.
To make matters worse, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published its US Winter Outlook 2021 on Thursday. It predicted persistent drought conditions in the American Southwest due to the La Nina weather phenomenon.
“This winter season,” the NOAA press release said, “chances are that conditions in southeastern Utah and western Colorado will be warmer and drier than normal.”
CONTINUE READING: Outlets in Blue Mesa, other upstream reservoirs opened to raise the near-critical water level at Lake Powell
Authorities countered low Powell levels three months ago with a plan to increase releases downstream from three reservoirs in the Upper Colorado River Basin – the Blue Mesa Reservoir in central Colorado, the Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Utah and Wyoming border the Navajo Reservoir in the Colorado-New Mexico border.
Blue Mesa releases should close by the end of this month.
The National Park Service said the Blue Mesa Reservoir was 26 percent full on Thursday. It’s just three feet above its record low from 1984.
The 181,000 acre feet provided by the three reservoirs were intended to raise the surface of Lake Powell by one meter.
USBR is currently carrying out models of the effects of additional compensatory water releases from upstream storage sources. The storage capacity of the Colorado Basin is currently 88 percent of the capacity. However, the USBR predicts that it will be 36 percent by that time next year.
Combined reservoir storage at the end of September was 81% of the Colorado average, which is 84% of last year’s storage capacity (NRCS map). To view a USGS gage map of the streamflow versus normal (just close the popup, the legend is in the top right corner): https://t.co/lYvNH5YCzg #cowx pic.twitter.com/S3iurEb4j6
– NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) October 21, 2021
However, the snowpack in southwest Colorado has got off to a good start this winter. Deeper snow cover in Colorado is an important first step towards higher rivers that can replenish reservoirs.
MORE NEWS: Boat ramps closed at 3 reservoirs on the western slope of Colorado, closings expected at Blue Mesa when the water level drops