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Southern Nevada Water Authority

Winter water yield falls short

Lake Mead could sink to 1,084 feet by next

Lake Mead could sink to 1,084 feet by next
fall, its lowest level since 2010.

Lake Mead could drop another 30 feet by 2015, dangerously close to shortage levels, according to new projections by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR).

The BOR projects Lake Mead could sink to 1,084 feet by next fall—its lowest level since 2010 and just 9 feet from triggering a federal shortage declaration, reducing Nevada and Arizona's available Colorado River water.

The projections follow a mild winter and an unseasonably warm spring, drying up any hope of increased run-off. The Colorado River system depends on snowmelt from the Rockies to feed tributaries that flow into the river and subsequently lakes Powell and Mead.

Lake Mead has dropped more than 120 feet since the drought began over a decade ago, and another BOR study predicts those challenging conditions will persist.

The study—funded by the SNWA, other agencies representing the Colorado River Basin States and the BOR—offers recommendations to supplement existing supplies including increased water conservation and reuse, desalination and other augmentation projects.

The U.S. and Mexico recently entered an innovative agreement to temporarily shore up Lake Mead levels. Minute No. 319 allows Mexico to store as much as 1.5 million acre-feet of water in Lake Mead while repairs are being made to that country’s water infrastructure, which was damaged in a 2010 earthquake.

Nevada receives approximately 300,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water annually. One acre-foot of water is enough to supply 3.4 single-family homes for one year.


Video: Drought and Water Resources


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