A million-acre feet of #water won’t save #LakePowell. But the deal is still a win — AZCentral.com #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Colorado River Basin Plumbing. Credit: Lester Doré/Mary Moran via Dustin Mulvaney and Twitter

Click the link to read the opinion piece on the AZCentral.com website (Joanna Allhands). Here’s an excerpt:

Opinion: It’s an imperfect plan that solves nothing. But it’s significant that all seven Colorado River states have agreed to temporarily boost Lake Powell.

The seven Colorado River basin states have a plan to temporarily stabilize Lake Powell. It contains some pain and not a lot of gain. Yet no one balked. And that’s a win. That should signal how dire the circumstances have become…

Interior proposed taking the unprecedented action of withholding 480,000 acre-feet (that’s more than 156 billion gallons) in Lake Powell that otherwise should have flowed to Lake Mead, among other measures. Two weeks later, the seven states responded with a singular voice: We get how dire this is, and we’re on board.

“We recognize the urgency created by current conditions in the Basin; in fact, hydrologic conditions in the Basin have continued to decline since your April 8, 2022, letter to the Governors’ representatives,” they wrote in an April 22 response. “It is our collective judgment that additional cooperative actions should be taken this spring to reduce the risk of Lake Powell declining below critical elevations.”

[…]

The idea, however ill-conceived, is not to use Mead’s actual elevation to determine which shortage tier we’d be in, but rather as if that 480,000 acre-feet were in Mead and not Powell. It’s not clear how the federal Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the reservoirs, would make that calculation, but the outcome could have real consequences…

The most recent forecast projects elevations as if that 480,000 acre-feet had flowed from Powell to Mead. It puts Mead a few inches above the trigger elevation of 1,045 feet in August, when the following year’s shortage determination is made. That would put us in a deeper Tier 2 shortage, regardless. But depending on which side of 1,045 feet we land, we could either fall in a Tier 2a or Tier 2b shortage – which for Arizona is the difference between making previously agreed cuts of 592,000 acre-feet or 640,000 acre-feet.

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