2009 Lake Powell Water Forecast – Part 1 March 15th

Tis spring again and so one of my favorite discussions (guessing games) begins. How high will Lake Powell go this year? With dredging of the Castle Rock Cut well underway (they want to be done before the lake starts gaining) the Cut should be operational earlier this year than last. Remember that last year was the first year in five that the 12 mile short cut had been usable after a prolonged drought.

The Bureau of Reclamation has released it’s final guess on a elevation for Lake Powell at the peak water level in July of 3642 feet above sea level. This puts the lake 58 feet below full pool which is 3700′ above sea level.

Current snow pack in the upper basin states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming is sitting at  104% of normal.

The Colorado Compact, in place since 1922, requires that past Lee’s Ferry (15 miles down stream from Glen Canyon Dam) the upper states need to release to the lower states 8.23 million acre feet of water. An acre foot is roughly enough water for a family of four or five for a year, an acre of land with one foot of water on it, or 325,851 gallons.

A couple of years ago due to the drought and the low condition of Lake Mead a temporary order was put in place to try and level out the two lakes.

This year, depending on the unregulated inflow to Lake Powell, we may have to release 9.39 MAF instead of the 8.23 MAF due to the Equalization Act. Time and the weather will tell if we continue to build snow pack or start losing it early.

Stay tuned for our next update……………….



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8 comments on “2009 Lake Powell Water Forecast – Part 1 March 15th
  1. F. William Scanlon says:

    Just a commentary on ‘spelling’…. you might want to consider using the word LOSING instead of the strange and erroneous ‘loosing’, which is getting to be a common and annoying non-word these days.

    I was on Lake Powell last year in April and witnessed the white band representing the higher water line…. what makes up that white material that covers the red sandstones?

  2. heather says:

    William – Thanks for the heads up on the “losing”.

    The white line is called our “bathtub ring” and is a calcium carbonate deposit on the sandstone.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Really? Scanlon complaining about spelling?

    Heather thanks so much for your informative article, keep on writing!

  4. heather says:


    Thanks! New water data should be out today so expect another update. I’ve been following the weather service reports – in one part of our drainage area we received 14 feet of good, wet, snow in 14 days.

  5. Randy says:

    Just read a new book called “Resurrection, Glen Canyon and a New Vision for the American West”. It has incredible photos of some of the now dry canyons that are quickly restoring themselves to pre lake conditions with plants and animals, and the flushing away of the 30 plus feet of silt. The book suggests it is unlikely the lake will ever get back to full pool due to increased water demands and continued warming, and that maybe its possible for both pro and con lake supporters to have a compromise, a smaller but viable lake and renewed areas of Glen Canyon. Its nice to see a view that is less partisan.

  6. Barbara says:

    I’m going to Lake Powell on Father’s Day weekend. Is Castle Rock cut open? This will determine if we launch at Antelope or Wahweap marina.

    Also, I hear the zebra mussel inspection is underway. That’s good, but will boats that have been in other lakes/rivers within 30 days be quarantined or not allowed? We’re going to Parker/Havasu this weekend.


  7. Ron says:

    With the advent of Al Gore proved to be a fraud, I am glad to see LP rising….hope we hit 3650 this year and 3675 next year…….thanks for your updates and great info Heather……You’re the best!

  8. heather says:

    Ron ~ THANKS!

    Got the water forecast from the Bureau – they are calling it at 3642 :) Better than the 3640 of earlier.

    For another post ~ but it seems folks just forget about the 83 to 85 flooding and the fact the lake was full during most of the 90’s. Wet and dry cycles are a part of life in the west – it is never average.

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