(CBS4) – The latest projections for river flow and storage in US Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs suggest that the surface level of Lake Powell could drop to the “power pool” mark and risk damaging production turbines. electricity from the Glen Canyon Dam as of July of next year.
“As a result of this update, the median water inflow forecast for the year 2022 into Lake Powell has declined by 800,000 acre-feet,” the USBR said in a press release released Thursday. .
READ MORE: Descend the Blue Mesa to help the dry west
Lake Powell is the key component of the Colorado River storage project. It contributes significantly to the water supply and electricity grid of the Southwestern United States
It depends on the water sources in Colorado and neighboring states.
But Lake Powell’s current water level is the lowest since it was first filled almost 60 years ago.
The electric pool mark is 3,490 feet above sea level. On Saturday, the tank measured 3,545 feet. This is 29 percent of its full capacity.
âWe’ve had to make tough choices this year, and we’ll all have to make tougher decisions if it stays dry next year to protect Lake Mead and Lake Powell,â said Jacklynn Gould, Lower Basin Regional Director. of Reclamation Colorado.
READ MORE: Exits to Blue Mesa, other reservoirs upstream were opened to raise the near critical water level at Lake Powell
To make matters worse, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its US Winter Outlook 2021 on Thursday. It forecast continued drought conditions in the southwestern United States due to the La Nina weather phenomenon.
“This winter season,” the NOAA press release said, “is likely to favor warmer, drier than normal conditions for southeastern Utah and western Colorado.” .
Authorities countered low levels at Powell three months ago with a plan to increase downstream discharges from three reservoirs in the upper Colorado River basin – Blue Mesa Reservoir in central Colorado, Flaming Gorge Reservoir at the border Utah-Wyoming and Navajo Reservoir at Colorado-New Frontier of Mexico.
The Blue Mesa outings were due to end at the end of this month.
The National Park Service said the Blue Mesa Reservoir was 26% full on Thursday. It is only a meter above its all-time high reached in 1984.
The 181,000 acre-feet provided by the three reservoirs were to increase the area of ââLake Powell by three feet.
USBR is currently running models on the impacts of additional compensatory water discharges from upstream storage sources. The Colorado Basin’s storage level is currently at 88% of capacity. However, USBR predicts it will be 36% around the same time next year.
Combined tank storage was 81% of average across Colorado at the end of September, representing 84% of last year’s storage (NRCS map). To view a USGS gauge chart of the flow compared to normal (just close the pop-up, the legend is in the upper right corner): https://t.co/lYvNH5YCzg #cowx pic.twitter.com/S3iurEb4j6
– NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) 21 October 2021
NO MORE NEWS: Boat ramps closed at 3 tanks on the Colorado West Slope, closures expected at Blue Mesa as water levels drop
However, southwest Colorado’s snowpack got off to a good start this winter. A deeper snowpack in Colorado is an important first step towards higher river flows capable of filling reservoirs.