Lake Mead and Lake Powell are swelling. Here’s what that means for the water supply

The Bureau of Reclamation also announced plans for a “high-flow release” later this month, when water will come out of Glen Canyon Dam at a rate of 35,900 cubic feet per second. That will move sediment stored in the river to build up beaches, “which will benefit conditions at Grand Canyon National Park and aid in management of invasive species in the Colorado River,” officials said.

By Greg Haas || KLAS

 Lake Mead will rise 33 feet higher than expected this year because of snowpack levels in the Upper Colorado River Basin, according to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Snow that will melt and feed the Colorado River is causing major adjustments in government plans to store water in Lake Powell and Lake Mead. Nexstar’s reported on April 12 that water flows have already increased from Lake Powell, a fact confirmed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s latest 24-month study.

Now the government is revealing plans that include increasing the amount of water released from Lake Powell by 35% this year. The plan to release 7 million acre-feet has been adjusted to 9.5 million acre-feet – a difference of more than 800 billion gallons of water – by the end of the year.

Snowpack peaks at 160% of normal as Colorado River water flows toward Lake Mead 

It’s the good news Las Vegas has been waiting for after two decades of watching the bathtub ring at Lake Mead. But to put one good year in perspective, the Bureau of Reclamation said Lake Powell and Lake Mead – the two biggest reservoirs in the country would go from 23% full to 26% full.

Snowpack levels at the beginning of April were around 160% of normal. Water managers regard the start of April as the peak of the snowpack, when spring temperatures begin to melt snow faster than new snow accumulates.

The high snowpack levels are translating to an expected flow in the Colorado River that’s 177% of normal levels.


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