Wet spring and summer help avert worst of water shortages for now
FRISCO — Water storage in Lake Powell peaked on July 14 this year and has started its annual seasonal decline that will continue until spring runoff starts early in 2016, according to an Aug. 18 update from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
This year’s spring runoff season was better than projected, with April to July inflow at 94 percent of average (6.71 million acre feet). At the end of July elevation and storage of Lake Powell were at 3,612.6 feet (87 feet from full pool) and 13.00 million acre feet (53 percent of full capacity), respectively.
The relatively wet spring and summer in the Colorado River Basin helped delay the simmering water crisis, as federal officials last week announced that there’s enough water in the basin’s storage system to avoid serious cuts in deliveries for now, as reported by John Fleck.Overall, Lake Powell has seen below average inflows in 12 of the last 15 years, representing the driest 15-year period since the closure of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963. During that span, annual inflows have average about 8.39 million acre-feet, about 78 percent of the 30-year average (10,83 million acre-feet).
Showing the incredible variability in annual flows, the Colorado delivered nearly 16 million acre-feet of water in 2011, and 2.64 million acre-feet just a year later.