With the Colorado River forecasts out this week, I’m ready to call it: there won’t be enough water in the river for an extra water release this year from Lake Powell to help bolster the levels in the shrinking Lake Mead. Those declining red dots, month by month in the graph above, tell the story.
The official word won’t come until Friday at the earliest, when the Bureau of Reclamation releases its April “24-month study”. But the forecast data from the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center shows a median inflow into Lake Powell of just 63 percent of normal for the April-July period.
Under the river’s operating rules, if there is extra water in Lake Powell, it can be released downstream to bolster levels in Lake Mead. But 63 percent doesn’t leave any extra. The decision on this year’s releases is done now, based on the best forecast of what Powell’s levels will be at on Sept. 30.
As I’ve written previously, this means that come June, Lake Mead could unequivocally drop to its lowest levels since the it was first filled in the 1930s. I think I’ll plan a trip out that way, to see it for myself.