The August 24-month study was released by Reclamation on August 15 and the results show that there is zero chance for shortage in 2018.
This result is due to two factors, improved hydrology and continuation of contributions to Lake Mead by all Lower Basin States. The improved hydrology has also reduced the risks of shortage in 2019 and 2020.
The inflow to Lake Powell for water 2017 is about 113% of the 30-year average due to above average snow pack conditions this winter. The runoff increased Lake Powell’s elevation by 20 feet. Due to the operating rules in the 2007 Shortage Sharing Guidelines, the improvement in Lake Powell allows for additional, above normal deliveries, from Lake Powell to Lake Mead for the next several years. These 9 million acre-feet (MAF) releases facilitate avoiding shortages in the Lower Basin because the additional releases (770,000 acre-feet) help address the structural deficit in the Lower Basin. When combined with modest basin-wide conservation, Lake Mead has stabilized above shortage since 2015.
CAP’s analyses shows that continuation of the modest, targeted contributions to Lake Mead among all Lower Basin users will help avoid shortage through 2020. Although the 2007 Guidelines create a disincentive to building a large buffer in Lake Mead, Lake Mead is in a “sweet spot” where proactive contributions to Lake Mead can protect the system for shortages for a sustained period of time. This provides time and space for water managers and users to cooperatively build new tools to address the structural deficit and protect Lake Mead and Arizona water users.
At last month’s Lower Basin States meeting, the Bureau of Reclamation awarded the John Keyes III Award for Conservation to CAP’s Chuck Cullom as well as Bill Hasencamp from Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Colby Pellegrino from Southern Nevada Water Authority for their efforts and collaboration with the United States and others on the very successful Pilot System Conservation Program and the MOU.