LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Lake Mead is now expected to drop an extra 7.7 feet (approx.) because of a new action already underway by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to shore-up Lake Powell.

The move by the BOR is to save Lake Powell’s water level from dropping below an elevation of 3,490 feet, the lowest elevation that Glen Canyon Dam can still release water through its eight penstocks and generate hydropower.

Lake Mead July 6, 2000 (Left) – July 3, 2022 (Right)

The BOR, which controls water flow in the Colorado River Basin, said is already holding back more water in Lake Powell, an action that will continue through April 2023.

By the numbers, the BOR will hold back an extra 523,000 acre-feet of water over five months. This action is expected to “boost Lake Powell’s elevation by nearly 10 feet,” according to the BOR.

Right now Lake Mead’s water level is about 2 feet higher than at the end of July 2022. At that time Lake Mead held approximately 10 million acre-feet of water or about 3.3 billion gallons. At that time BOR public affairs officer Michelle Helms told 8 News Now that “an increase of one vertical foot at Lake Mead is equivalent to (approximately) 68,000 acre-feet [of water].”

According to the BOR news release published on Dec. 2, Lake Mead’s December water level is said to be 1,045.83 feet. However, Lake Mead’s water level on the same day, Dec. 2, is 1,042.94 feet above sea level, a difference of almost 3 feet.

In the previous BOR prediction published on Nov. 15, Lake Mead was to be at 1,046.49 feet in December, a difference of more than 3 1/2 feet from the actual current water level.

DateDec. 2
Lake Mead Elevation Prediction (ft)
Nov. 15
Lake Mead Elevation Prediction (ft)
Dec. 20221,045.831,046.49
Jan. 20231,045.431,048.26
Feb. 20231,045.401,049.62
Mar. 20231,040.731,046.82
Apr. 20231,033.741,040.94
Data: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The BOR also monitors the snowpack on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies – the main source of water for Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Currently, the snowpack is at 101% compared to the average normal snowpack over the previous 30 years, which include the current 23-year mega-drought.