Last week, on April 13th, the Bureau of Reclamation announced that the “equalization plan” will be put into effect this year for Lake Powell and Lake Mead.
This post from last week offers some background information on Water in the West
Lake Powell Water Forecast 2011
Lake Powell is scheduled to release an additional 3.3 MAF (million acre feet) of water above and beyond the required release of 8.23 MAF. The Colorado River water heads to Lake Mead after it leaves Lake Powell and will help relieve the mulit-year drought the seven western states have been under. Lake Mead water levels have been severely impacted due to this drought and this years snowpack, along with the extra release from Lake Powell, will help the elevations come up.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar summed it up this way, “Drought conditions over the past 11 years had raised the possibility of water shortages in the Lower Basin over the next year, but thanks to good precipitation, wise planning, and strong collaboration among the states, we are able to release additional water and avert those shortages.”
Lake Powell is expected to be at similar levels as last year, peaking in July at about elevation 3,643 feet above sea level or 57 feet below full pool. The additional water will increase Lake Mead elevation levels by more than 20 feet since October 2010, ending September 2011 projected at 1,105 feet above sea level.
As more information is released I’ll update here.