Lake Powell: 4th Driest Year on Record

According to a November Summit Voice article, the past water year--October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013, was the fourth-driest on record for the Colorado River Basin as measured at Lake Powell. Overall water storage in the Colorado River Basin in the last 14 years has ranged from a high of 94 percent of capacity in 2000 to the present low of 50 percent at the start of the 2014 water year. In a recent update, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) reported that total inflow for the water year was just 5.12 million acre-feet, just 47 percent of average. Water years 2002, 1977, and 2012 were drier, receiving 2.64 maf, 3.53 maf, and 4.91 maf, respectively. Lake Powell has only seen above-average inflows in three of the past 14 years. Some studies have suggested Lake Powell may continue dropping for years to come. Research published by the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station this year found that “Lakes Powell and Mead are projected to drop to zero and only occasionally thereafter add rather small amounts of storage before emptying again.” Last summer, the BOR announced it will probably have to cut deliveries to the Lower Basin states in the next couple years.