KINGMAN - Despite all the precipitation in Arizona this winter and spring, the forecast for water coming into the Colorado River is once again way below average.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says that this year the snowpack in the Rocky Mountains is projected to deliver just over 5 million acre-feet of water this year. That is approximately 63 percent of average. On a normal year, the Colorado River will deliver about 8 million acre-feet of water to thirsty downstream users.
According to Jim Holland, a park planner for the Lake Mead National Recreational Area, they are projecting that Lake Mead will fall at least 12 feet below last year's low water mark. That will be the lowest the lake level has been since 1937, when the Bureau of Reclamation started filling the massive lake, which is now at 44 percent of capacity.
"We are anticipating that the lake will drop to an elevation of 1,084 this summer and to 1,082 by October," Holland said.
Currently, the lake level is at 1,098 according to the Bureau of Reclamation's web site at www.usbr.gov/lc/region/g4000/hourly/rivops.html.
Lake Mead has dropped 114 vertical feet in the past 10 years. Since 1998, there has been just three years where the snowpack exceeded the average. Those events occurred in 1998 when flows reached 107 percent of average, 2005 when 111 percent of the average was received, and again in 2008, when 112 percent of average was seen. The lowest level recorded in the same time period was in 2002 when just 30 percent of the average amount of water was received in the Colorado River system.
What this means for boaters and anglers who utilize the South Cove or Temple Bar ramps is that the LMNRA will continue to "chase the water" as the lake level drops and exposes more shoreline. New islands and other structures that have long been under water will now be visible, and will pose dangers to boaters and anglers alike.