From American Rivers (Sinjin Eberle):
Certainly, California’s statewide snowpack numbers are great – over 160% of average in early April – even inspiring Governor Jerry Brown to recently declare the end of the current drought. Upper Basin states are rolling in the numbers as well – the Colorado River basin is currently at 122% and every major river basin in Utah is at or above historical average. But not to throw a wet blanket over this year’s good news, we still have a long way to go before taking our foot off the gas in encouraging everyone across the Colorado Basin towards greater conservation measures, smart water sharing agreements, and stabilization of the system overall.
The Colorado River is currently over allocated to the tune of more than a million acre feet (one acre foot is about 325,000 gallons) per year – there is physically not as much water in the river as is being taken out. The main storage reservoirs in the system, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are both under 50% of their capacity. In order for the system to be sustainable, and in preparation for the uncertainty of more bouts of lingering drought and climate change, we must all work together to support a stable and reliable Colorado River system – from the headwaters in the Colorado Rockies to the lettuce fields of Yuma and beyond.
Here’s the Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map from the NRCS.