LAKE POWELL, Utah (ABC4) – Low water levels in Southern Utah are something Heather Patno, of the Bureau of Reclamation, says have been an issue for the past 20 years with the drought, but it’s only gotten worse the last 10 years.
“In looking at the last 20 years of drought, beginning in 2012 and anticipating what is going to be seen in 2021, this will be the driest 10 years on record,” says Patno.
She says Lake Powell is at 36% capacity, and they only expect to see 41% of water inflow this spring.
“There was the potential for a shortage declaration or some dry conditions. Our current modeling and predictions are that it’s a 90% chance that we’ll see that come next year,” says Patno.
And it’s impacting places like the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area, which is closing some boat launch ramps due to declining water levels and other bodies of water, like Lake Mead in Nevada.
“Powell will be releasing less water to Mead next year,” says Patno.
Patno says the Bureau is working with the Upper Colorado River Commission, states, and federal agencies to make a plan to release water in the upper reservoirs in the upper basin and get it to Lake Powell.
“We’ll be releasing less water down to Mead, and we are looking at developing a plan to release more water from the upper reservoirs down to Lake Powell to increase storage,” says Patno.
State officials say they don’t know how long these dry conditions will last, so conserve as much water as possible.