Lake Mead is finally on the rise again; why over here

In the last 26 days, Lake Mead has grown by 2 feet 8 inches. Prior to this, for six months, the water level of Lake Mead was at a very low level.

By numbers, Lake Mead has grown an average of .8 inches each day over the past 26 days. Overall, it stands at 32.88 inches so far. until 22 august Mead Lake water level It was 1,043.45 feet above sea level. On July 27, it had reached a low of 1,040.71 feet.

Lake Mead water level chart showing lake levels for 2017 – 2022. (lakelevels.info)

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, it takes about 68,000 acre-feet of additional water, at its current depth, to raise the lake’s water level by an inch. One acre foot is about 326,000 gallons.

This means that about 176,800 acre feet of water has been added to Lake Mead in the last 26 days. Written in another way, about 58 billion gallons of water have been poured into the lake.

Why is it increasing?

One of the most common questions when talking about the water level in Lake Mead is guessing why the lake is rising. The prevailing view is due to the recent monsoon inflow which has brought rain to the region for almost four weeks.

Although this has raised lake levels, it is not the only reason, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

“Recent storm events and runoff in tributaries that enter Lake Mead as well as lower releases from the Hoover — due to decreased downstream demand — are the major causes of the recent increase in Lake Mead’s elevation,” says the Bureau of Reclamation Public Affairs. Officer Michelle Helms told 8 News Now. Helms said there had been no significant change to the operation of Glen Canyon Dam since August 19.

Therefore the water level of Lake Mead has increased due to more rain and less demand. However, this is not sustainable because most of the water in the Colorado River Basin – including Lake Mead – comes from melting ice in the Colorado Rockies and the monsoon normally subsides over the next month.

looking ahead

The Interior Department – which oversees the Bureau of Reclamation – announced that new drought restrictions would begin in 2023. This is the second straight year of cuts since the federal government announced a water shortage last August.

Arizona’s allocation will drop by 21%, and California will see no new cuts under drought restrictions because the state has “banked” water. Mexico will lose 7% of its water from the river. The cuts are part of the “Tier 2” cuts that were expected as the drought continued.

Nevada’s portion of the Colorado River falls under Tier 2 reductions to 275,000 acre-feet per year. The state used only 242,000 acre feet last year and is on pace to use almost the same this year.

Recent rains have increased Lake Mead’s water level and decreased downstream demand for about 64% of the total water used by Nevada each year.

The Bureau of Reclamation has asked states to plan to cut an additional 2 million to 4 million acre-feet of Colorado River water use from their allocations — a 15-30% reduction.

According to documents released on August 16, the federal government has decided to hold more water in Lake Powell—about 1 million acre-feet—instead of releasing it downstream into Lake Mead.

of the bureau 24 month study shows That Lake Mead is down 26 feet a year from now. The lake is currently at 1,042 feet, but forecasts show it dropping to 1,016 by the end of September 2023. Forecasts show it dropping to 1,013 feet by July 2024.

A page from the US Bureau of Reclamation’s 24-month study shows Lake Mead’s level forecast through July 2024. View full report here,

Lake level is expressed in height above sea level – not in reservoir depth.

Given the additional sanctions that lie ahead, the Bureau saw extreme predictions. According to Daniel Bunk, deputy chief of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Boulder Canyon Operations Office, “Lake Mead could drop below 1,000 feet … as early as the summer of 2024.” A drop that would seriously put the Southwest US on track for Tier 3 sanctions.

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