High good, low bad: Mead in April 2011

Posted on | May 1, 2011 | 1 Comment

Mural, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Photo: Emily Green

Last week at a meeting of the Southern California Water DialogueReclamation had good news and bad news. The good news was that as tallies keep coming in from a record water year on the Colorado River, the looming prospect of shortage declarations for the “Lower Basin” has receded. (By last night, the closing April elevation of Lake Mead was 1,095.77 feet, more than 13 feet higher than November 2010, when the largest reservoir in the American West was within 7 feet of shortages being declared.)

The bad news was that Mead, which serves Nevada, California, Arizona and Mexico, is still less than half full. As this graphic shows, when a dry trend began on the river in 1999, Mead was 95% full. While we’ve had a wet blip in 2011, if this generally dry trend persists for the next ten years, except this time we start from less than half of our water storage capacity, then we’re screwed.

Click here for Reclamation records of the elevations of Lake Mead going back to its impoundment by Hoover Dam.



One Response to “High good, low bad: Mead in April 2011”

  1. delbert grady
    May 7th, 2011 @ 9:30 pm

    The mural of Parker Dam looks almost cartoonish. In the decades I’ve seen the place, never saw all five gates open.

    Perhaps it’s a cartoon after all.


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