ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4) – Water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead are lower than they’ve been since they were built, according to leaders from the Colorado River Authority of Utah. As 1/3 of Utahns rely on the Colorado River for drinking water, officials say they need residents to conserve water now more than ever.
The Colorado River, Lake Powell, and Lake Mead are all connected and extremely low on water. Lake Powell alone is 50 feet lower than it was last year, according to Gene Shawcroft, the state’s Colorado River Commissioner.
“We need to understand that growth is upon us, and that growth is for the most part, our own children and our grandchildren, that this limited supply of water has got to stretch father, so anything anyone can do to be wiser about how they use water is very, very significant,” he says.
Shawcroft says a year ago, with hardly any moisture, most of the rain soaked into the ground not replenishing reservoirs. This year, the amount of water in the soil is higher, but officials have growing concerns.
“But even with that, the projections are in the neighborhood of about 130-140% of snowpack will be necessary in order for us to get about a normal run off,” he says.
Water agencies are now having to release water from Flaming Gorge to Lake Powell to help bolster the critical elevations. Next, they’ll release water from Blue Mesa to Lake Powell.
“And then in November, there will be water released from Navajo Lake in New Mexico, to Lake Powell,” says Shawcroft.
Shawcroft says they’re working with surrounding states to modify operational agreements expiring in 2025 in attempts to keep Lake Mead and Lake Powell at about the same percentage full.
“There could very well be additional releases from those upper three reservoirs next spring as well,” he says.
Shawcroft says Utahns water usage the rest of this year will make a significant impact on these levels and it’s essential to save as much of this water as possible.