Friday May 27, 2022


Federal officials have a sobering forecast for the Colorado River Basin: Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir which serves millions of people in the Southwest, will likely drop another 12 feet by this fall.It’s far below what the outlooks were predicting as of last year.The latest forecast from the US Bureau of Reclamation shows the reservoir plummeting from its current elevation of around 1049 feet above sea level to around 1037 feet by this September.

One year after that, in September 2023, it suggests Lake Mead will be 26 feet lower than its current level — just 19% of the lake’s full capacity and a level that would trigger the most severe water cuts for the Southwest.

The region is already in an unprecedented Tier 1 shortage on the Colorado River, which led to mandatory water cuts that mainly impacted agriculture. The latest forecast would suggest that California, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico would see even more significant cuts to their Colorado River water starting in January, and — without a couple of blockbuster winters with lots of rain and snow — more severe cuts the following year that would stretch into household and industrial use. Federal officials make those determinations on a year-by-year basis in August.

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