Las Vegas

Lake Mead’s rising – but why?

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Over the final 26 days, Lake Mead has risen 2 ft 8 inches. Before that, for six months, Lake Mead’s water degree had been on a steep downward trajectory.

By the numbers, Lake Mead has risen every of the final 26 days by .8 inches a day on common. In complete to this point, that is 32.88 inches. As of Aug, 22 Lake Mead’s water level was 1,043.45 ft above sea degree. It reached a low of 1,040.71 ft on July 27.

Lake Mead water degree chart exhibiting lake ranges from 2017 – 2022. (lakelevels.information)

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, to boost the lake’s water degree one inch, at its present depth, it takes roughly a further 68,000 acre-feet of water. An acre-foot is about 326,000 gallons.

This implies that roughly 176,800 acre-feet of water have been added to Lake Mead over the past 26 days. Written one other manner, virtually 58 billion gallons of water have been added to the lake.


One of the commonest questions when speaking concerning the water degree at Lake Mead is speculating why the lake is rising. The prevailing thought is due to the current monsoonal move that has introduced rain to the world for nearly 4 weeks.

While this has added to the lake degree it’s not the one purpose in accordance with the Bureau of Reclamation.

“Recent storm events and runoff into the tributaries that enter Lake Mead as well as reduced releases from Hoover – due to a decrease in downstream demand – are the leading cause for the recent increases in Lake Mead’s elevation,” Bureau of Reclamation Public Affairs Officer Michelle Helms instructed 8 News Now. Helms added that as of Aug. 19 there aren’t any important modifications to operations at Glen Canyon Dam.

So extra rain and fewer demand have led to the rise in Lake Mead’s water degree. This, nevertheless, will not be sustainable for the reason that majority of water within the Colorado River basin – together with Lake Mead – comes from melting snow within the Colorado Rockies and the monsoon usually subsides over the subsequent month.


The Department of Interior – which oversees the Bureau of Reclamation – introduced new drought restrictions will start in 2023. The discount is the second straight year of reductions after the federal authorities declared a water scarcity final August.

Arizona’s allocation will drop by 21%, and California will see no new cuts beneath drought restrictions as a result of the state has “banked” water. Mexico will lose 7% of its water from the river. The cuts are a part of “Tier 2” cuts that had been anticipated because the drought continues.

Nevada’s share of the Colorado River drops to 275,000 acre-feet per year beneath the Tier 2 cuts. The state used solely 242,000 acre-feet final year and is on tempo to make use of about the identical this year.

Lake Mead’s water degree enhance attributable to current rain and decreased downstream demand account for about 64% of the entire water utilized by Nevada every year.

The Bureau of Reclamation has requested states that use Colorado River water to formulate plans to chop a further 2 million to 4 million acre-feet from their allocations – a 15-30% discount.

The federal authorities has additionally determined to maintain extra water – about 1 million acre-feet – in Lake Powell fairly than releasing it downstream to Lake Mead, in accordance with paperwork launched Aug. 16.

The bureau’s 24-month study shows that Lake Mead is headed 26 ft decrease a year from now. The lake is presently at 1,042 ft, but forecasts present it dropping to 1,016 on the finish of September 2023. Forecasts present it dropping to 1,013 ft by July 2024.

A web page from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s 24-month research reveals ranges forecast for Lake Mead by means of July 2024. See the full report here.

Lake ranges are expressed in altitude above sea degree — not the depth of the reservoir.

Looking forward to further restrictions that is perhaps forward, the bureau checked out excessive predictions. “Lake Mead could drop below 1,000 feet … as early as the summer of 2024,” in accordance with Daniel Bunk, Deputy Chief of the Boulder Canyon Operations Office of the Bureau of Reclamation. A drop that extreme would put the Southwest U.S. on observe for Tier 3 restrictions.

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