It’s not as simple as just releasing more water from Lake Powell

Storage in Lake Mead, Powell

Storage in Lake Mead, Powell

When I was in Nevada last month, I heard from a number of lay people that the answer to a shrinking Lake Mead was simple: stop hoarding water upstream in Lake Powell.

Henry Brean did a nice job today of explaining why it ain’t that simple – that the current lake levels (as of today Powell is 61 percent full and Mead is 38 percent full, a record low) is the result of joint operations approved by all the players back in 2007 aimed at refilling Powell after it dropped to just 32.7 percent full in 2005:

Southern Nevada Water Authority chief Pat Mulroy said river users are “just buying time,” trying to outlast what already ranks as the worst drought of the last century.

The coordinated operation of Mead and Powell is just another stall tactic, she said.

“We are living on our savings account,” Mulroy said, and that account has been significantly drained over the past decade.