Lake Powell elevation drops below historic low

Local News

This Aug. 21, 2019 image shows Lake Powell near Page, Arizona. A plan by Utah could open the door to the state pursuing an expensive pipeline that critics say could further deplete the lake, which is a key indicator of the Colorado River’s health. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

LAKE POWELL, Utah (ABC4) – Another Utah body of water has hit historic lows as the state continues to experience widespread drought.

Over the weekend, the Great Salt Lake’s southern portion dropped to a new low, with average daily water levels dropping an inch below the previous record set in 1963. Experts say water levels may decline an additional foot over the next several months.

Now, Lake Powell‘s water surface elevation is at a record low, measured at 3554.72 ft. That is 0.38 feet below the previous low record set in April 2005, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

“Lake Powell’s elevation is expected to drop another 2 feet by the end of July and will likely continue to decline until next year’s spring runoff into the Colorado River begins,” the Bureau adds.

Experts explain that since its pre-drought high elevation of 3,700 feet in September 1999, Lake Powell has dropped more than 145 vertical feet, lost 16 million-acre feet of water, and is currently at 33% capacity.

According to Glen Canyon National Park, home to Lake Powell, some launch ramps are only partially open, as of July 26.

The National Park Service shared this photo, seen below, of the floating restroom, once located near Dominguez Butte, stranded on a rock. It has since been moved to deeper water as of June 2021.

floating toilet now beached as lake levels drop
Changing lake levels has left this floating restroom stranded on rock. The bathroom, once located near Dominguez Butte has been moved to deeper water as of June 2021. (NPS)

On May 1, the Utah Division of Natural Resources measured Lake Powell at holding just 36% of its total storage capacity. The water level was low last year as well at 49%.

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