UTAH FLOOD WATCH

Lake Powell missing 40,000 acre feet of water after accidental release, officials say

Jun 13, 2024, 2:00 PM

The Glen Canyon Dam holds back the waters of Lake Powell in Page, Arizona, on July 18, 2022....

The Glen Canyon Dam holds back the waters of Lake Powell in Page, Arizona, on July 18, 2022. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

GLEN CANYON NATIONAL RECREATION AREA — Lake Powell got an accidental haircut last year, according to officials overseeing the nation’s second-largest reservoir.

The Bureau of Reclamation told The Colorado Sun, they accidentally released 40,000 acre feet of water. This happened while trying to balance moving a lot of water around the Colorado River Basin in 2023.

Utah’s Colorado River Commissioner, Gene Shawcroft told KSL NewsRadio the Bureau was working to balance millions of acre feet of water, between repaying water borrowed from Flaming Gorge and Blue Mesa reservoirs and the very wet winter that shortly followed.

The water from the reservoirs was used as an emergency boost for Lake Powell and Lake Mead at the height of the drought. Those releases ended in early 2023.

“The hydrology changed dramatically,” Shawcroft said. “This was a unique situation.”

Shawcroft said this type of situation isn’t normal. The drastic change in conditions in-turn made it harder for officials to get water where it was supposed to go.

Under the circumstances, Shawcroft said, “that’s very good operation,” speaking about the performance of the Bureau of Reclamation.

“40,000 acre feet is within a half of a percent of everything that got moved around,” Shawcroft said. “I think that’s pretty remarkable.”

What comes next?

A spokesperson for the Bureau told The Colorado Sun that the 40,000 acre feet of water will not be put back. That’s because it falls within the margin of error listed in the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines, which were signed by every state that uses the river’s water, including Utah.

However, Shawcroft said the Upper Basin, which Utah is a part of, will get credited for that accidental release in it’s normal downstream obligations to the Lower Basin states.

Shawcroft said a Utah household uses roughly 1 acre foot of water per year. If it was allocated as such, this could have supplied water to roughly 40,000 Utah homes for a year.

However, Lake Powell can hold more than 23 million acre feet of water total. It’s currently just under 39% full and still taking in water from what’s left of Spring runoff.

Forty million people in seven states rely on the Colorado River for drinking and irrigation water. That includes Utah as well as Mexico.

Utah has rights to just over 11% of what’s allocated from the Colorado River. That alone supplies the Beehive State with more than a quarter of its yearly water supply.

Related:

We want to hear from you.

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

Utah Flood Watch

The Colorado River is pictured near Moab in Grand County on Friday, April, 26, 2024. (Kristin Murph...

Kyle Remund

Flood watch in effect for portions of eastern Utah

A flood watch covering parts of eastern Utah and western Colorado is in effect from Sunday, June 30th to Monday, July 1st.

14 days ago

Ray and Maranda Ankofski, a Texas couple, reportedly went missing in Grand County, according to off...

Michael Houck, KSL TV

Search for Texas couple has turned into a ‘recovery effort,’ sheriff office says

The search for a couple from Texas who went missing east of Moab has turned into a recovery effort due to evidence found during the search.

14 days ago

Flash floods could appear in Southern Utah on Sunday and Monday. The Virgin River flows through thr...

Kennedy Camarena and Mark Jackson

Southern Utah: Potential for flash floods on Sunday and Monday, some flooding in Capitol Reef reported

The National Weather Service is predicting a potential of flash floods for Southern Utah on Sunday and Monday.

20 days ago

Highway 128 is covered in mud after a severe storm and flooding in the area....

Kyle Remund

Cleanup begins after severe storm in eastern Utah

After a severe storm passed through Grand County, Utah, on Friday, officials are beginning cleanup and mitigation.

21 days ago

The storm surge from Tropical Storm Alberto floods the streets in Surfside Beach, Texas, on Wednesd...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

Flood watch issued for parts of Utah as tropical storm remnants arrive

Parts of Utah will be on a flood watch on June 21 as a tropical storm moves through the state. Flash flooding is also possible on Saturday.

22 days ago

Parts of Utah have been given a heat advisory on Sunday. A view of the state Capitol and the Salt L...

Andrew Gordon

High temps bring warnings and ozone problems to Utah

Utah's high temperatures have brought on the hottest day of the year so far in the state, along with warnings and ozone issues.

30 days ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Lake Powell missing 40,000 acre feet of water after accidental release, officials say