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Colorado River Update

The precipitation this winter has significantly increased the anticipated inflow to the Colorado River system, particularly into Lake Powell, the upper storage lake located on the Utah-Arizona border.

Last September the prediction for inflow into Lake Powell done by the Bureau of Reclamation was 8.3 million acre-feet or 86% of average. In April the forecast went to 14.47 million acre-feet or 151% of average. The probability of Lake Powell dropping in 2024 to a critically low elevation declaration went from a 37% probability in January to a 0% probability in April. The 2025 estimate also went to zero probability from a 30% prediction in January. This improvement does take some of the most drastic responses off the table for how to handle the long-term mismatch between Colorado River demands and supplies.

There continue to be active discussions between the seven states that share the Colorado River. There are provisions in the Law of the River to deal with shortages, but those provisions have not been tested at the critically low elevation levels the system was facing just a few months ago.

Here are two articles for further information:

· The Impact of Reclamation’s SEIS alternatives on Metropolitan’s Colorado River Supplies; Abundant precipitation refills storage – Maven’s Notebook

· States near historic deal to protect Colorado River – The Washington Post

Geoff Vanden Heuvel

Director of Regulatory and Economic Affairs

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