U.S. Water News Online
DENVER -- Echoing predictions from the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, the Bureau of Reclamation is predicting
spring and summer snowmelt runoffs will be below average in most
areas of the West. The Northwest is the exception.
A recently released report said reservoir storage levels are
generally near to below average, but on most projects storage levels
will be adequate to meet water supply needs this year. Precipitation
in March was generally below normal throughout the West, with most of
Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado reporting
less than 50 percent of normal precipitation.
"While we are very concerned about some areas that remain in
critical drought, in general we believe there will be adequate
supplies for agriculture and municipal water users, wildlife, boaters
and anglers, and all who rely on the hydropower power produced by the
Bureau of Reclamation," said John Keys, commissioner of reclamation.
"We are closely monitoring the drought situation in the West,"
Keys continued. "Even though we have some areas that are in better
shape than last year, we still see heavy demands continuing to be
applied on our reservoir systems throughout the West."
He said precipitation in the Southwest is less than 50 percent of
normal since October 2001. Current reservoir storage levels on the
Colorado River, with Lake Mead 74 percent full, are sufficient to
provide a full water supply.
Seasonal precipitation is well below normal throughout the Lower
Colorado region. Current Colorado Basin snowpack is only 51 percent
of average. The forecast for April-July inflow to Lake Powell is only
38 percent of average, but Lake Powell remains at 70 percent of
Runoff forecasts are mostly in the 40-50 percent of average range
in the region, but as low as 28 percent on the Pecos and 2 percent on
part of the Rio Grande in New Mexico. Reservoir storage is near to
below average in the Upper Colorado and Great Basins, but much below
average in the Pecos (29 percent) and Rio Grande (55 percent) Basins.
Combined Rio Grande Project storage is at the lowest level since
1982. Water supply shortages are likely in the Carlsbad Project on
the Pecos River and in the Rio Grande Project.
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