Runoff news: Lake Powell will peak at 75% of capacity this summer, Lake Mead to rise 51 feet over the season


From the Arizona Republic (Shaun McKinnon):

The huge reservoir near Page, which shrank to one-third of capacity during the decadelong drought, will peak for the summer at 75 percent full, more than enough water to help Arizona and Nevada escape forced shortages this year.

Lake Mead, the river’s other major reservoir, will also recover some of its losses as federal officials shift water that has accumulated in Lake Powell downstream into Mead. By the end of the year, Lake Mead is projected to rise 51 feet above the record low level it reached last November…

Lake Powell is expected to reach its summer peak in the next seven to 14 days, said Rick Clayton, hydraulic engineer for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Salt Lake City. The reservoir’s elevation, about 3,661 feet above sea level, will be its highest since November 2001, when Powell began losing water to the drought…

At the same time, water is being released through Glen Canyon Dam at the highest rate possible without opening the floodgates as the bureau moves water downstream into Lake Mead to begin equalizing water levels at the two reservoirs. The water flowing downstream is in addition to what is usually released for use by Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico and will keep Lake Mead above levels that would trigger rationing on the lower river under a 2007 drought plan.

“This has been a great water year,” Clayton said…

By the end of the year, Mead and Powell are projected to hold between them 31.3 million acre-feet, about 6.6 million acre-feet more than the same time a year earlier.

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