Colorado River Basin storage expected to drop to 50 percent of average by end of summer
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Lake Powell won’t be looking its best for its 50th birthday this year. The key reservoir in the Colorado River Basin is almost 100 feet below full pool and recently dipped to below 50 percent capacity, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s operations update.
Specifically, the reservoir level was 98.5 feet below full as of March 11, and at 49 percent of capacity. Water managers expect the reservoir level to continue dropping for at least several more weeks before it begins to refill with spring snow melt and runoff.
But just how much it refills remains to be seen. Snowpack in the Colorado River Basin has been bumped up by February and March storms, but BuRec estimates that inflow for the key April to July runoff season will total just 3.4 million acre feet, which is 47 percent of average. Releases for the 2013 water year are projected to total 8.23 million acre feet, which would draw the reservoir down to about 44 percent of capacity by the end of the current water year.
Based on current conditions and projections for the next few months, the Colorado River Basin is expected to deliver just 49 percent of the average annual flows, with basin-wide reservoir storage dropping to about 50 percent of capacity by the end of September.