How Lake Mead Water Levels Have Changed So Far This Year

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The Colorado River reservoir between Nevada and Arizona supplies 25 million people with water. In recent years, drought and overconsumption have reduced its water supplies to alarming levels.

Since the start of the year, Lakes Powell and Mead, the two largest Colorado River reservoirs, have stored less.

Since January 1, Lake Mead, which collects Lake Powell water and transfers it to downstream customers, has expanded by 7%, or 600,000 acre-feet.

Lake Mead was 1,068.18 feet at the start of the year. It reached 1,076 feet in January and February after rising steadily. Since then, it fell throughout March. This is expected. Lake water levels vary seasonally.

Recent lake levels are much higher than before. Last year, Lake Mead began at 1,044 feet and rose steadily through April. This was owing to a wet year that brought record snowpack to the mountains.

This year's snowpack is somewhat above average. Snowpack water content is determined by 90 100% snow-water equivalent in most locations.

By 2024, Lake Mead water storage should be lower than last year. This is because water use will exceed supply.

This supply-demand imbalance drains reservoirs over time.Unless basin water consumers can reduce their use, climate change will diminish the Colorado River, increasing the supply-demand imbalance and draining reservoirs quicker.

New reservoir restrictions are being negotiated by Colorado River decision-makers. To provide a steady water supply for all river users, they must balance supply and demand.