(Erin Jordan) The Colorado River is an important source of water for much of the western United States, including Arizona. The Central Arizona Project (CAP) carries 1.5 million acre-feet of water from the Colorado River to Pima, Pinal, and Maricopa counties each year. Tucson Water distributed 93,250 acre-feet to over 220,000 customers in 2012.
Lake Powell is a major reservoir on the Colorado River. According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Lake Powell is currently only at 42 percent of capacity as of May 20. The below images of Lake Powell were captured by a NASA satellite on May 12, 2014.
NASA Earth Observatory says “The low water levels are evident in these images, which were acquired by the Landsat 8 satellite on May 13, 2014. White bleached rock show where Lake Powell’s shore is when the reservoir is at capacity. In the top image, which shows the northern section of Lake Powell, a muddy Colorado River flows through a largely empty lake bed. The lower image shows a section of the reservoir closer to the Glen Canyon Dam and popular with boaters. Here, Halls Creek Bay is clearly smaller than it is in the National Park Service map of Lake Powell.“
In 2000, Lake Powell was at 94 percent of capacity. Drought over the years in the southwestern U.S. has taken a toll on the huge reservoir. However, this year snow pack in the northern reaches of the Colorado River is above-average. As the snow melts, that water makes its way into the river and then into Lake Powell. According to NASA Earth Observatory “water levels are expected to rebound to about 51 percent of capacity by October 2014, the end of the water year.”
The below image compares 1999 water levels to 2013 water level. Click here to learn more about how this drop in water levels caused a cutback in water flowing down river into Lake Mead and Lake Havasu.