Lake Powell/Lake Mead news: 2011 water year on track to be the third wettest since 1963


From the Las Vegas Review-Journal (Henry Brean):

The river system that fills Lake Mead and supplies 90 percent of Las Vegas’ drinking water is on track for its third wettest year since Lake Powell was filled for the first time in 1963…

Snowpack expert Randy Julander chalked up this summer’s massive flows on the Colorado to a near-perfect combination of heavy snow, unseasonably cool weather and above-average rainfall in the mountains that feed the river. “It has been a phenomenally good year for reservoirs and for Lake Powell in particular,” said Julander, who supervises the federal snow survey program in Nevada, Utah and California for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “One good year like this one goes a long way toward fishing us out of the toilet.”

Already, the surface of Lake Powell has risen to its highest level in a decade, while Lake Mead is back to where it was in early 2009. The surface of Lake Mead is now 20 feet higher than it was a year ago, and current projections — ones now likely to be adjusted upward — call for it to rise another 33 feet by Aug. 1, 2012…

Last month’s inflow ranked as the second largest Lake Powell has ever seen in July. The 4.35 million acre-feet of water that poured into the reservoir on the Utah-Arizona border that month was almost three times the July average, and the flow in June was even greater — 5.4 million acre-feet, or almost 24 times the amount of water used in the Las Vegas Valley all of last year…

…Lake Mead is expected to finish the year at about 56 percent of capacity.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

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