UTAH DROUGHT

Here’s how much Lake Powell is expected to rise this year

Mar 21, 2024, 6:22 AM | Updated: 6:35 am

Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam...

The Glen Canyon Dam holds back the waters of Lake Powell in Page, Arizona, on July 18, 2022. Lake Powell is expected to receive a decent bump in the coming months, but experts say it still has a "long way to go" after years of drought. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Lake Powell remains at the center of attention as the seven Colorado River Basin states figure out how much water is withdrawn from it this year and beyond.

But those who rely on it for water and electricity — and the millions who enjoy recreating on the reservoir — are equally focused on how much Lake Powell receives this spring.

The good news is, it is expected to receive a decent bump in the coming months. The bad news is, it’s not expected to reach the same levels it peaked at before the region’s latest severe drought.

Lake Powell is projected to receive about 5.4 million acre-feet of water based on conditions this winter, National Weather Service’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center officials said on Friday. That would hoist the reservoir from 32% to 37% capacity after the snowmelt process wraps up in the early summer.

The reservoir gained about 65 feet in water levels last spring, jumping from 21% to 38% capacity following last year’s record snowpack. If this year’s projections come to fruition, it would also be close to the reservoir peak in 2021. It would also be much lower than the 2010s average peak.

However, experts explain the figure is a bit fluid, and several variables can adjust how high the reservoir reaches.

Additional water

The center’s projections are based on a possible inflow of 85% of normal. Snowpack levels are generally between 85% and 130% of normal across the Upper Colorado River Basin region, and 120% and 125% across the Great Basin, Colorado Basin River Forecast Center officials wrote in a water supply report Tuesday.

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Here’s how much Lake Powell is expected to rise this year