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Lake Powell runoff headed to struggling Lake Mead

Reported by: Christine Kim
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Updated: 8/13/2014 10:13 pm

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — One of the main reservoirs in the vast Colorado River water system that is struggling to serve the booming Southwest will get more water this year, but that won't be enough to pull Lake Mead back from near-record lows.

The water elevation in the reservoir behind Hoover Dam has alarmed water managers, farmers and cities throughout the region. They depend on it for some of their water supply amid a grueling drought.

Shortages aren't expected in the upcoming water year, but they are for the 2016 year.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that it will release 10 percent more water from Lake Powell near the Arizona-Utah border into Lake Mead than it did the past year, thanks to near-normal runoff.

The runoff from the Upper Colorado River basin was far less the two previous years.

Federal officials say they will send 8.23 million acre feet to Lake Mead, up from 7.48 million. An acre foot is about 325,850 gallons, or enough to cover a football field with a foot of water.

Despite the additional water, Lake Mead will remain near record lows. That's because more water will be delivered to cities, farms, American Indian communities and Mexico than Lake Mead will get from Lake Powell.

Lake Mead already is at its lowest point since Hoover Dam was completed and the lake was first filled in the 1930s.

The Bureau of Reclamation has projected Lake Mead will be at 1,083 feet in January, ensuring all water deliveries. It is expected to fall to 1,075 for January 2016, triggering water cuts to Arizona and Nevada.

While water authorities say they've been saving water for potential dry days, some are already preparing for cuts.

Federal officials and water administrators in metro areas such as Las Vegas and Phoenix say they're committed to finding new ways to make every drop of river water count - from cloud seeding to pipelines to new reservoirs.

Colorado River basin supplies water to California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and part of Mexico.


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