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Action to postpone any shortage declaration

The "bathtub ring" visible at Lake Mead is going to get a little bit smaller.

The Bureau of Reclamation released its 24-month study Friday (April 8) and determined that Lake Powell should release 11.56 million acre-feet (approx. 3.75 trillion gallons) of Colorado River water to help fill Lake Mead. By comparison, in 2010, the Bureau released 8.23 million acre-feet from Lake Powell.

Lake Mead currently is at elevation 1,096' above sea level and the release from Lake Powell will raise it to 1,112' by the end of December. Lake Mead's level had fallen to 1,082' in late 2010.

If Lake Mead's level had fallen below 1,075' then the Secretary of the Interior would declare a shortage, causing Arizona to lose 320,000 acre-feet of water. The Central Arizona Project's share of that shortage would be about 288,000 acre-feet.

"This is great news for CAP and our customers," said CAP General Manager David Modeer in response to the Bureau's projection. "Adding sixteen feet to water levels in Lake Mead by the end of the year should delay any potential shortage declaration and related cutbacks to our Colorado River supply until at least 2016."

The release of water from Lake Powell to Lake Mead is part of a 2007 agreement among the seven states that share Colorado River water to operate the two reservoirs in a conjunctive manner. The volume of water released each year depends on lake levels in Powell and Mead. When Powell is relatively high and Mead is low, more water is released. Levels in Lake Powell are increasing due to the good winter snowpack in much of the Rockies this year. Spring runoff into Lake Powell is projected to be 120 percent of average.


CAP is the steward of central Arizona's Colorado River water entitlement and a collaborative leader in Arizona's water community. The 336-mile-long CAP system brings about 1.6 million acre-feet of renewable Colorado River water to its customers -- cities, businesses, agriculture and Indian communities -- in Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties. An acre-foot of water is about 326,000 gallons, enough to serve 3 families for one year.

Contact:   Mitch Basefsky 682-9077 or 419-8365