(ABC4) – Since the early 2000s, severe drought and increase in water demand have resulted in a significant drop in reservoir elevation and stored water. This has prompted a heightened level of interest in the current state and future of Lake Powell.

Another issue has risen regarding the storage capacity of Lake Powell. If water levels were to rise again, they would not be able to reach max storage size as it was when it opened in 1963.

Current storage capacity at full pool is 25,160,000 acre-feet, a 6.79% decrease from 1963. The reason for the decrease is largely due to sediments continuously being transported by the Colorado and San Juan rivers settling on the reservoir bottom.

“It is vitally important we have the best-available scientific information to provide a clear understanding of water availability in Lake Powell as we plan for the future,” said Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo. “The Colorado River system faces multiple challenges, including the effects of a 22-year-long drought and the increased impacts of climate change.”

Lake Powell is the second-largest constructed water reservoir by storage capacity in the United States and represents a critical component in the management of water resources in the Colorado River Basin. The reservoir provides hydroelectric power, is a key water storage, stabilizes water commitments downstream, and buffers the Lower Colorado River Basin against sedimentation and fluctuations.