LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A recently released 24-month forecast shows Lake Mead continuing to drop far below levels that triggered the August declaration of a water shortage.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation expects the lake to drop from its current level — 1,067.15 feet above sea level — to 1,033.56 feet by November of 2023.
That prediction comes as water conservation efforts increase.
The water that flows from the Rockies is stored in Lake Powell and Lake Mead, but 20 years of drought have resulted in plummeting levels. Concern over water supplies has prompted conservation efforts and some new bans on grass, which requires far more water than other landscaping options.
The federal government is preparing to spend millions to boost recycling and reclamation to secure water supplies, and there are even plans to invest in desalination programs.
The lake level typically rebounds during winter and spring, but the forecast from the Bureau of Reclamation shows a smaller rebound is expected this year. The lake dropped to its lowest point in November — 1,064.97 feet. The highest point of the 2022 calendar year is expected to come in February at 1,068.30 feet.
As the weather starts to warm, it will drop again, eventually down about 10 feet by November, 2022.
There is some good news.
Snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin — the Rockies, where the Colorado River begins and flows to Lake Mead — is ahead of where it’s been for the past four years. Storms in late December dropped enough snow to put snowpack on pace for a better year.
The graphic above shows the current year in dark blue compared to the previous four years and the median snowpack (thick red line).