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2024 Articles

Reclamation

In 2023, the Colorado River experienced significant improvement in the system due to above-average hydrology and ongoing conservation efforts. This allowed for Glen Canyon Dam’s annual release volume, originally set at 7.0 million acre-feet for water year 2023, to increase downstream flows to approximately 8.58 maf from Lake Powell to Lake Mead.

Lake Mead’s release in calendar year 2023 is projected to be the lowest in 30 years, approximately 1.5 maf lower than an average normal year, reflecting extensive, ongoing conservation efforts in the Lower Basin states funded in part by President Biden’s historic Investing in America agenda, above-normal inflows in the Lower Basin below Hoover Dam, and conservation in Mexico.

The record snowpack in the Upper Basin and extensive conservation efforts in the Lower Basin provided the opportunity to help replenish both lakes in the near-term, but the basin is still experiencing severe drought conditions and the system’s two largest reservoirs – Lake Powell and Lake Mead – remain at historically low levels.

To manage these reservoirs at historically low levels and anticipating future drought conditions, Reclamation has begun the process of developing both near-term and longterm guidelines. The 2007 Interim Guidelines Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) will address near-term operations while long-term guidelines are being developed under the Post-2026 process.