From The Arizona Republic (Shaun McKinnon):
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said Friday that runoff from snow in the mountains of Wyoming and Colorado is expected to increase storage on the river enough to adjust water levels at two key reservoirs and avert drought restrictions. The decision comes just six months after Lake Mead dropped to within 7 feet of a level that would have triggered drought restrictions. Under those restrictions, Arizona would have lost about 11 percent of its allocation for at least one year.
Arizona officials had prepared contingency plans that included forfeiting a small amount of the state’s allocation as a hedge against larger losses. Those plans are no longer necessary. “We still want to be somewhat cautious,” said Tom McCann, assistant general manager of the Central Arizona Project, which delivers Colorado River water to Phoenix and Tucson. “We’ve been in drought for 11 years. We’ve had a good year, and that’s very helpful. It pushes us further away from shortages, but it doesn’t mean the drought is over.”
Still, Friday’s action will give the CAP and other water users more time to plan for future shortages. The extra water should postpone the potential for shortages until about 2016, even if conditions turn dry again, McCann said.
More Colorado River basin coverage here.