We are just 5 feet away from the possibility of deeper water cuts to save Lake Mead

Lake Mead Pamorama/rschnaible/Flicker

States must agree on additional actions to prop up Lake Mead when the forecast hits 1,030 feet. We’re already just 5 feet away from that mark.

By Joanna Allhands |Arizona Republic

(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published only to extend coverage of an issue and to stir comments from our readers.)

The July 24-month study for the Colorado River reservoir system is skirting dangerously close to what might be considered a doomsday provision within the Drought Contingency Plan.

If Lake Mead is projected to fall below 1,030 feet any time within two years, the plan states, Arizona, California and Nevada must reconvene to decide what additional steps they will take to keep Mead from falling below 1,020 feet – an elevation that many consider the crash point. The next milestone below that is “dead pool,” where no water leaves the lake.

And that provision is triggered by any part of any 24-month forecast – not just the maximum or most probable scenario, but the minimum probable scenario, too.

According to the July 24-month study, Lake Mead could reach 1,035 feet in June 2023.

That’s the minimum probable scenario, of course, but the most probable scenario isn’t much better, at 1,037 feet in June 2023.

We’ve lost 5 feet of ‘padding’ in 2 months.


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July 2021