Inside Sources: How much water does Utah get to keep?

Apr 15, 2023, 8:00 AM


View of Colorado River from Moab Rim Jeep trail in Moab Utah. (Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock)

(Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock)

SALT LAKE CITY — The record-breaking snowfall in Utah this winter has given the state more water than it expected to have.

And considering, the West is experiencing a drought that has gone on for more than two decades, figuring out how much water Utah gets to keep is an issue that has a lot of people working hard to find a solution to.

As such, the heavy snowfall is having an impact on how Utah and the other Colorado River Basin states plan to distribute that water.

Gene Shawcroft, the Utah River Commissioner, joined Inside Sources with guest hosts Taylor Morgan and Derek Brown on Friday to discuss how this water will be split up between Utah and other states like California and Nevada. 

The distribution of where the water goes is complicated

“The allocation of this water,” Morgan said. “It’s not a simple thing.”

Shawcroft is asked “What does it mean to be Utah’s River Commissioner for the Colorado River?”

He says there are seven states involved in the Colorado River Compact. Shawcroft says the governor of each of those states designates an individual to represent the state on issues regarding the Colorado River. 

“So, my role is to represent Utah as we coordinate with those seven states,” Shawcroft said. “Along with our federal partners and the country of Mexico.”

With low water levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead and because the reservoirs are also significantly low, Shawcroft says a different use pattern had to be created to maintain some water in those reservoirs.

Modifications to reservoirs

Shawcroft says several months ago, the Department of Interior said it would come up with a draft Environment Impact Statement. The statement would deal with modifications as to how big reservoirs on the Colorado River could be operated.

On Tuesday, a draft supplement to the Environment Impact Statement was released for the operation of the Glen Canyon Dam, Shawcroft says.

He says one of the big issues to come out of that is to allow for a smaller release out of the Glen Canyon to preserve more water in the reservoir.

Tuesday’s announcement was held at Hoover Dam. Shawcroft was asked, “Is it an indication that filling Lake Mead will be prioritized over Lake Powell?”

“It does not,” he said. “That’s a great place to have a photo op. One of the things that is extremely important to recognize that everyone is working very, very hard to come up with solutions.”

As of Friday, Shawcroft says Lake Powell is 180 feet from being full, and is at 22% capacity. 

However, the runoff this spring could put a dent into those numbers, according to Shawcroft.

“Projections are it could come up 40, 50, 60 feet,” he said. “Again, it totally depends on how fast the snow melts.”

Listen to the entire segment.


Listen to Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Inside Sources

Chris Stewart resignation...

Boyd Matheson

A congressional resignation, hurry sickness and the need for respectful restraint

Rep. Chris Stewart announced his resignation from Congress on Wednesday, prompting the mad rush to replace him began. We need to slow down.

2 days ago

Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, speaks during a Memorial Day commemoration event at the Capitol in Salt L...

Mark Jones

Rep. Moore discusses why he supports new debt ceiling agreement

Rep. Blake Moore joined Inside Sources on Tuesday to discuss the new debt ceiling agreement with Boyd Matheson.

5 days ago

north ogden mayor widow jennie taylor...

Mark Jones

Remembering those who fought and died in the War on Terror

Jennie Taylor joined Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson on Friday to discuss her work with the War on Terror Memorial Monument and a honor flight she is working on for September.

9 days ago

Just one week after eight HBCUs were threatened, a bomb threat was called in on at the University o...

Mark Jones

Resiliency Center: Building a mental resilience

The Resiliency Center at the University of Utah is providing help to 25,000 employees in education, clinical roles and research.

18 days ago


Curt Gresseth

Romney talks migrant surge at southern border

Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney talks about Title 42 ending — in place during COVID-19 — and President Joe Biden not fulfilling his responsibilities of securing the southern border.

20 days ago

President Camille Johnson, General Relief Society President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter...

Mark Jones

Finding relief from life’s challenges with President Camille Johnson

General Relief Society President Camille Johnson spoke to KSL about her Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ministry in Africa.

21 days ago

Sponsored Articles

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Group of cheerful team members high fiving each other...

Visit Bear Lake

How To Plan a Business Retreat in Bear Lake This Spring

Are you wondering how to plan a business retreat this spring? Read our sample itinerary to plan a team getaway to Bear Lake.

Cheerful young woman writing an assignment while sitting at desk between two classmates during clas...

BYU EMBA at the Marriott School of Business

Hear it Firsthand: 6 Students Share Their Executive MBA Experience at BYU’s Marriott School of Business

The Executive MBA program at BYU offers great opportunities. Hear experiences straight from students enrolled in the program.

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and gates.

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...

Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer.

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy.

Inside Sources: How much water does Utah get to keep?