Will all this rain and snow help our lake levels?
Record Snowpack Leads to Full Reservoirs
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -After another productive storm, Arizona continues to improve when it comes to the short-term drought. So how are all of these storms helping our lakes and drought situation? Every Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor updates our short-term conditions across the state and nation. Compared to a week ago, we’ve dropped another 4% roughly in the “abnormally dry” category and less than a percentage point in the moderate drought level. Over 75% of the state is now in a “none” drought category, with about 25% of the state, mostly western and the extreme north part of Arizona, classified to be in an “abnormally dry” state. Remember, Arizona has been in a long-term drought since the 1990′s.
According to the AZ State Climate office, the last time we were in this good of shape was in March of 2019. They crunched the numbers, and it shows that back in July 2018-Feb. 2019 had about the same winter-spring precipitation levels as this past July 2022-Feb. 2023. The state climate office also reported March 2019 checked in as the 38th wettest, and we are now on pace to beat that number this month.
A common question people ask us all the time is how our recent rain and snowstorms have been impacting our water reservoirs. The Salt River Project and its series of reservoirs serve the majority of the Valley’s water needs and have been a major benefactor from our recent storms. Last year at this time, the reservoir system was at 71% full. As of this Thursday, the water retention system as a whole is 99% full. Our largest reservoir, Roosevelt Lake is 101% full. Apache, Canyon, Saguaro, Horseshoe and Bartlett lakes are from 92-97% full! This is the main reason why SRP water managers have been releasing water down the Salt and Verde Rivers to make room for our record snowpack that is and will be melting for the next couple of months. As we’ve reported, that water eventually percolates down into the ground and replenishes our underground aquifer that many Valley communities tap as a water source.
People also ask about our massive reservoirs to the north, Lake Powell and Lake Mead. Abundant snowfall has also been reported in the Colorado River watershed in Colorado. The statewide snowpack is at its 4th highest season-to-date level since record-keeping began in 1987. That number could still climb with more storms predicted for the Rocky Mountain region over the next week. That snowmelt will eventually make its way into Powell to slowly replenish the reservoir that has seen historic lows. Water releases from Powell will eventually make it to Lake Mead as its main source, along with the 2,200 square mile Las Vegas Valley watershed from the nearby mountains. It would take many wet winters as well as more conservation efforts to make a major, noticeable dent in that system. You can always keep update on the snowpack percentages and rervoir levels using the links down below!
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