LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Encouraging news continues to flow about water levels at Lake Mead. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has announced that increased releases from Lake Powell will continue through the end of May.
Water released through the Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell flows south as the Colorado River into the Grand Canyon and eventually into Lake Mead. The majority of the water in the Colorado River basin comes from melting snow in the Colorado Rockies, which had record snowfall this year.
Reclamation says it will release almost twice as much water this month than it did prior to the recent high flow experiment (HFE) that helped Lake Mead rise more than two feet in a week.
“Reclamation has increased May’s release volume from Glen Canyon Dam to 1,088,000 acre-feet,” Reclamation wrote in a Facebook post. “Hourly releases during May will fluctuate from a low of approximately 14,051 cubic feet per second (early morning hours) to a high of 18,909 cfs (afternoons and evenings).”
During the recent HFE the release flow from Glen Canyon Dam increased to almost 40,000 cfs. A dramatic video showed the valves at the dam opening releasing a torrent of water downriver. The main goal of the HFE was to restore sand banks in the Grand Canyon, but it also helped Lake Mead rise.
“The higher monthly release volumes are a result of the dam’s planned annual release for water year 2023 being increased from 7.0 million acre-feet up to 9.5 maf because of high snowpack,” Reclamation wrote. “Reclamation intends to deliver the additional water of up to 2.5 maf before the end of the water year (Sept. 30, 2023). Reclamation continues to closely monitor the observed inflow into Lake Powell and will continue to adjust Glen Canyon Dam’s annual release volume each month as needed.”
Current Lake Mead water level
As of Wednesday morning Lake Mead the water level at Lake Mead is 1,049.74 feet above sea level (not the actual depth – this is how Reclamation measures all bodies of water).
The April HFE resulted in an almost four-foot rise since early April. However, Lake Mead remains almost 180 feet lower than its full pool water level.