‘Miracle May’ for Colorado water levels
May showers are bringing a respite for Colorado River water managers worried about keeping enough water in Lake Powell to generate electricity.
“This May has really been a miracle in Colorado,” said Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, Thursday at the Mesa County State of the Rivers discussion at the Avalon Theatre in Grand Junction.
Lake Powell could see 1 million to 1.5 million acre-feet of water flow in, Kuhn said, as a result of the storm system that has dropped sometimes heavy rains in the valleys of western Colorado and topped the peaks with fresh snow.
As of Thursday, Lake Powell was at an elevation of 3,593 feet, or about 100 feet above the level at which it can generate power. That 100 feet equates to approximately 7.8 million acre-feet of usable storage, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Though snowpack was below average last winter, reservoirs that feed the Colorado River in Colorado are expected to fill, said Ryan Christianson, water-management group chief for the Grand Junction Bureau of Reclamation office, to about 100 people attending the meeting sponsored by the River District and the Colorado Mesa University Water Center.
Officials, however, are watching to see if they will have to boost flows from upper-basin reservoirs to mimic spring runoff levels that are important to the four endangered fish of the Colorado River, Christianson said.
Managers were able to save about 22,000 acre-feet in Blue Mesa Reservoir by holding back some water as flows rose in the North Fork of the Gunnison River, Christianson said.