From The Las Vegas Review-Journal (Henry Brean):
Despite worsening conditions in the mountains that feed the Colorado, forecasters still expect the reservoir east of Las Vegas to contain just enough water by the end of the year to avoid a first-ever federal shortage declaration.
A month ago, the Colorado River Basin was on track for its seventh-driest winter in more than half a century. Now forecasters say this winter will likely go down as the sixth-driest on record for the river system that supplies 90 percent of the Las Vegas Valley’s drinking water.
“This entire water year has been characterized by way below-average precipitation,” said Paul Miller, service coordination hydrologist with the National Weather Service’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center in Salt Lake City. “It’s bad everywhere.”
It’s especially bad in Arizona, where snow levels across much of the state are roughly one-third their normal levels, Miller said.
In the entire basin, only the Upper Green River area in Wyoming has seen more snow than usual this winter.
Officials in Nevada, California and Arizona have spent the past several years negotiating a drought contingency plan, under which the states would voluntarily reduce their use of Colorado River water to prop up Lake Mead.
Right now that plan is stalled by internal squabbles among water users in Arizona and California over how to share those voluntary cuts.
Click here to read the March 15, 2018 Colorado River Basin Forecast Center’s Water Supply Forecast Discussion.