River Beat: It Could Be Worse

I guess the best you can say about the updated forecast for Colorado River flows for the rest of the 2010 water year is that it could have been worse.

Colorado Basin Forecast, CBRFC

Colorado Basin Forecast, CBRFC

A wet April in the northern reaches of the Colorado River basin has pushed the Lake Powell inflow forecast, out today from the Kevin Werner and the crew at the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, to 66 percent of average. That may sound terrible (and it is), but it’s up from a 63 percent forecast a month ago.

Some other key points on the system:

  • Navajo Reservoir, in northwest New Mexico: 87 percent
  • San Juan River at Bluff: 77 percent
  • Green River at Flaming Gorge: 43 percent (yikes!)

A reminder that we’re already past the point of no return in terms of downstream releases from Lake Powell through the Grand Canyon into Lake Mead. The low inflow from the upper basin into Powell means that Mead is likely to continue to drop this year, and by the end of the year drop below Drought of the ’50s levels to reach the lowest its been since the reservoir was first filled in the 1930s.