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KNAU and Arizona News

Good Year for Snow Could Delay Colorado River Water Emergency

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Penn Newhard
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A visible layer of desert dust coats the snows of Mount Sopris in Colorado's Elk Range on May 16, 2007. Studies suggest dust reduces snow's reflectivity and causes snow to melt approximately one month earlier in the spring.

An above average winter for snowfall in the Rockies could mean a reprieve for an upcoming water shortage declaration among the Colorado River basin states. KNAU’s Zac Ziegler reports:

Melting snowpack is beginning to refill the major reservoirs along the Colorado.

The Bureau of Reclamation predicts levels at Lake Powell will go up 55 feet before the end of the year, and officials anticipate they will release nine million acre-feet downstream for the fifth year in a row.

According to Bureau spokesperson Patti Aaron, the release from Lake Powell and increased flows from tributaries downstream will likely mean Lake Mead goes up by about four feet, keeping it above emergency levels.

“It looks good at this moment that we won’t be declaring shortage on the river. That determination is made in the middle of August each year for the next year, but it looks good right now.”

The Bureau of Reclamation had previously said the odds of a shortage declaration were greater than 50 %.

Aaron says it’s too early to tell how things will look when the topic gets addressed again in 2020.

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