Drought news: Lake Powell pool elevation rises two feet in September #ColoradoRiver

Glen Canyon Dam -- Photo / Brad Udall
Glen Canyon Dam — Photo / Brad Udall

From the Arizona Sun (Todd Glasenapp):

“September’s abundant rains that fell across eastern Utah, western Colorado and northern New Mexico in addition to recent snow in Colorado have helped saturate soils in the Lake Powell watershed,” Page-based Friends of Lake Powell said in a news release Monday. “This is an important factor in setting the stage for more normal runoff in the spring of 2014.”

Page, located above Glen Canyon Dam at the lake’s southern end, received 2.73 inches of rain in September, more than three times its monthly average. The 4.21 inches that Page had in August and September amounted to half of its annual average precipitation.

Further north, and in the Colorado River Basin that drains into the lake, the Animas River at Cedar Hill in New Mexico was resembling spring conditions by Sept. 22. The river topped 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), a faster rate than the peak of the spring runoff. The river’s normal flow rate for this time of year is 300 to 400 cfs, according to Friends of Lake Powell’s Paul Ostapuk.

Instead of gradually falling through September, Lake Powell gained two feet of surface elevation. The National Park Service had planned to close the Antelope Point launch ramp on Sept. 23, but called the move off on the 19th…

Reclamation released 801 thousand-acre feet (kaf) of water through the dam to the Colorado River in August and 600 kaf in September, with plans to reduce even further for October (480 kaf) and November (500 kaf)…

“This is the worst 14-year drought period in the last hundred years,” Upper Colorado Regional Director Larry Walkoviak said in mid-August, before the heavy rains.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

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