High Good, Low Bad: Lake Mead Elevations

Posted on | May 10, 2009 | 4 Comments

hoover1Source: US Bureau of Reclamation

HOPEFULLY there is more water than silt in the main Colorado River reservoir holding water supplies for California, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. The maximum elevation for Lake Mead is 1,229 feet. Below, gleaned from US Bureau of Reclamation records, is the first of what will be monthly elevation reports for Lake Mead on this blog, with year on year contrasts going back to 2004. Above, for those who prefer pictures to numbers, also borrowed from Reclamation, is a nifty graphic published on Friday, May 8, 2009 showing April and May 2009 elevations, including predictions (in yellow) throughout the month.

April 30, 2009                                                       1,101.26 ft

April 30, 2008                                                       1,110.61 ft

April 30, 2007                                                       1,120.69 ft

April 30, 2006                                                       1,135.94 ft

April 30, 2005                                                       1,144.45 ft

April 30, 2004                                                       1,134.98 ft


4 Responses to “High Good, Low Bad: Lake Mead Elevations”

  1. Adan Ortega Jr.
    May 11th, 2009 @ 6:09 am

    I recall that in 2000 Dr. William Patzert of JPL in Pasadena spoke before the MWD board in Los Angeles and warned them that the Colorado River basin had normal cyles of 100 to 10,000 year droughts. In 2002 Patzert wrote a white paper saying that the Colorado River basin was already in a drought and that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation pointed to a long one. The Southern Nevada Water Authority called the MWD a “rogue agency” for releasing the white paper given that the Colorado River Quantification Settlement Agreement was being finalized. MWD was paving the foundation for major outdoor water conservation in 2002 which was remarkably co-opted by SNWA that bested SoCal efforts after 2004. The transposition of positions is interesting to note. In the 1990’s the Australians were taking tours of Southern California in order to learn about water conservation and they too have now over taken us, perhaps out of acute necessity. My point is that the best water conservation strategies are being invented outside of California today despite our advanced forewarning that others took to heart despite their initial resistance. In the meantime we are sitting around waiting to go back to “normal” when rationing restrictions will be lifted and we can go back to wasting water. This is simply unrealistic.

  2. admin
    May 11th, 2009 @ 9:05 am

    I have been caught out in my first week of blogging MWD-bashing, and not for the first time. Guilty. Some years back, during some 7-states shindig Reclamation Commissioner Bob Johnson scolded me for just the same attitude. He had a point. Met cut its surplus-hogging as required by the Quantification Settlement Agreement through some truly dandy indoor conservation moves, low flush toilets etc. My problem is that even after drought became apparent in 1999, and JPL/Caltech warned Met that long-term drought was in the forecast, Met did so little with its own idea for outdoor conservation. Perhaps at first Met didn’t really believe Patzert’s forecast. Many didn’t. But the fact is, it didn’t have to. California still had the biggest allocation on the river and it kept on wasting in the face of a gathering disaster. By 2002, both main storage reservoirs on the Colorado were half empty and there were still no watering ordinances issued in Los Angeles! I have heard it said by a Nevadan that California would rather let a quarter of its Colorado River water run through the gutters of Los Angeles rather than share its allocation with the other six river states and Mexico. I can see how it looks like that. There has been so little effort to educate Southern Californians about the cost of lawn culture, I doubt most of them are aware of the disaster that they are driving. But, yes, our gutters runneth over with Colorado River water in the worst recorded drought in the river’s history.

  3. High Good, Low Bad: May Elevations on Mead |
    June 1st, 2009 @ 7:34 pm

    […] For April Elevations, click here […]

  4. High good, low bad: Mead in June |
    July 1st, 2009 @ 10:24 pm

    […] May elevations, click here. For April, here. For US Bureau of Reclamation records of Lake Mead elevations, click here. For the shortage sharing […]

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