The August 2022 #ColoradoRiver 24-month Operating Plan is hot off the presses from USBR #COriver #aridification

Click the link to access the operating plan on the USBR website.

The operation of Lake Powell and Lake Mead in this August 2022 24-Month Study is pursuant to the December 2007 Record of Decision on Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and the Coordinated Operations of Lake Powell and Lake Mead (Interim Guidelines), and reflects the 2022 Annual Operating Plan (AOP). Pursuant to the Interim Guidelines, the August 2021 24-Month Study projections of the January 1, 2022, system storage and reservoir water surface elevations set the operational tier for the coordinated operation of Lake Powell and Lake Mead during 2022.

The August 2021 24-Month study projected the January 1, 2022, Lake Powell elevation to be less than 3,575 feet and at or above 3,525 feet and the Lake Mead elevation to be at or above 1,025 feet. Consistent with Section 6.C.1 of the Interim Guidelines the operational tier for Lake Powell in water year 2022 is the MidElevation Release Tier.

The August 2021 24-Month Study projected the January 1, 2022 Lake Mead elevation to be at or below 1,075 feet and at or above 1,050 feet. Consistent with Section 2.D.1 of the Interim Guidelines, a Shortage Condition consistent with Section 2.D.1.a will govern the operation of Lake Mead for calendar year (CY) 2022. In addition, Section III.B of Exhibit 1 to the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) Agreement will also govern the operation of Lake Mead for CY 2022.Efforts to conserve additional water in Lake Mead under a 2021 Lower Basin Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate near-term actions to maintain the water surface elevation of Lake Mead will also take place in CY 2022.

In light of the prolonged drought, low runoff conditions, and depleted storage at Lake Powell, the Department of the Interior implemented an action under Sections 6 and 7.D of the 2007 Interim Guidelines specifically reducing the Glen Canyon Dam annual releases to 7.00 maf in water year 20221. This action was undertaken in conjunction with the 2022 Drought Response Operations Plan actions which together are anticipated to add approximately one million additional acre-feet of storage to Lake Powell by April 2023. The Department of Interior and Reclamation will work to determine the manner in which to operate Glen Canyon Dam to ensure the benefits of these actions are preserved.

The reduction of releases from Lake Powell from 7.48 maf to 7.00 maf in water year 2022 will result in a reduced release volume of 0.480 maf that normally would have been released from Glen Canyon Dam to Lake Mead as part of the 7.48 maf annual release volume, consistent with routine operations under the 2007 Interim Guidelines. The reduction of releases from Glen Canyon Dam in water year 2022 (resulting in increased storage in Lake Powell) will not affect future operating determinations and will be accounted for “as if” this volume of water had been delivered to Lake Mead. The August 2022 24-Month Study modeled 2023 and 2024 operations at Lakes Powell and Mead as if the 0.480 maf had been delivered to Lake Mead for operating condition purposes both for the U.S. Lower Basin and for Mexico. The elevations listed in this report reflect the projected physical elevations at each reservoir after implementing operations as described.

Using the approach described in the immediately preceding paragraph, the August 2022 24-Month Study projects the January 1, 2023, Lake Powell elevation to be less than 3,525 feet. Consistent with Section 6.D.1 of the Interim Guidelines, Lake Powell’s operations in water year 2023 will be governed by the Lower Elevation Balancing Tier with an initial projected water year release volume of 7.00 maf. Because the 2022 operations were designed to protect critical elevations at Lake Powell, Reclamation will implement Lower Elevation Balancing Tier operations in a way that continues to protect these critical elevations, or preserves the benefits of the 2022 operations to protect Lake Powell, in water year 2023. Specifically, Reclamation modeled operations in WY 2023 as follows in the August 24-Month Study:

• The Glen Canyon Dam annual release has initially been set to 7.00 maf, and in April 2023 Reclamation will evaluate hydrologic conditions to determine if balancing releases may be appropriate under the conditions established in the 2007 Interim Guidelines;

• Balancing releases will be limited (with a minimum of 7.00 maf) to protect Lake Powell from declining below elevation 3,525 feet at the end of December 2023;

• Balancing releases will take into account operational neutrality of the 0.480 maf that was retained in Lake Powell under the May 2022 action. Any Lake Powell balancing release volume will be calculated as if the 0.480 maf had been delivered to Lake Mead in WY 2022; and

• The modeling approach for WY 2023 will apply to 2024.

Consistent with the provisions of the 2007 Interim Guidelines, and to preserve the benefits to Glen Canyon Dam facilities from 2022 Operations into 2023 and 2024, Reclamation will consult with the Basin States on monthly and annual operations. Reclamation will also ensure all appropriate consultation with Basin Tribes, the Republic of Mexico, other federal agencies, water users and non-governmental organizations with respect to implementation of these monthly and annual operations.

Reclamation will continue to carefully monitor hydrologic and operational conditions and assess the need for additional responsive actions and/or changes to operations. Reclamation will continue to consult with the Basin States, Basin Tribes, the Republic of Mexico, and other partners on Colorado River operations to consider and determine whether additional measures should be taken to further enhance the preservation of these benefits, as well as recovery protocols, including those of future protective measures for both Lakes Powell and Mead.

The August 2022 24-Month Study projects the January 1, 2023 Lake Mead elevation, determined as if the 0.480 maf had been delivered to Lake Mead in water year 2022, to be below 1,050 feet and above 1,045 feet. Consistent with Section 2.D.1 of the Interim Guidelines, a Shortage Condition consistent with Section 2.D.1.b will govern the operation of Lake Mead for calendar year 2023. In addition, Section III.B of Exhibit 1 to the Lower Basin DCP Agreement will govern the operation of Lake Mead for calendar year 2023. Efforts to conserve additional water in Lake Mead under the 2021 MOU will also continue in CY 2023.

Current runoff projections into Lake Powell are provided by the National Weather Service’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center and are as follows.

The observed unregulated inflow into Lake Powell for the month of July was 0.491 maf or 51 percent of the 30-year average from 1991 to 2020. The August unregulated inflow forecast for Lake Powell is 0.250 maf or 66 percent of the 30-year average. The preliminary observed 2022 April through July unregulated inflow is 3.75 maf or 59 percent of average.

In this study, the calendar year 2022 diversion for Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) is projected to be 1.08 maf. The calendar year 2022 diversion for the Central Arizona Project (CAP) is projected to be 0.997 maf. Consumptive use for Nevada above Hoover (SNWP Use) is projected to be 0.238 maf for calendar year 2022.

Due to changing Lake Mead elevations, Hoover’s generator capacity is adjusted based on estimated effective capacity and plant availability. The estimated effective capacity is based on projected Lake Mead elevations. Unit capacity tests will be performed as the lake elevation changes. This study reflects these changes in the projections. Hoover, Davis, and Parker Dam historical gross energy figures come from PO&M reports provided by the Lower Colorado Region’s Power Office, Bureau of Reclamation, Boulder City, Nevada. Questions regarding these historical energy numbers can be directed to Colleen Dwyer at (702) 293-8420.

Slides from yesterday’s virtual meeting.

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