November 20, 2023 — Recent forecasts by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation have shifted the outlook for Lake Mead, predicting a drop in its water levels. By September 2025, the lake is expected to reach 1,040.77 feet, nearly a foot lower than its level in July 2022 and marking the lowest point since its creation in the 1930s. This marks a stark change from previous forecasts, which estimated the lake would be at 1,060.23 feet in September 2025.
Lake Powell, the major upstream reservoir connected to the system, experienced a record low in April 2023, dropping just below 3,520 feet. However, snowmelt from the Upper Colorado River Basin led to a gradual increase in its water level. Predictions indicate Lake Powell will rise to 3,598.27 feet by September 2025.
Broader Implications and Responses.
The 24-Month Study, a tool for managing the Colorado River’s dams, is regularly updated to reflect changing conditions and plays a critical role in decision-making. Efforts like a wet winter and conservation commitments from Nevada, Arizona, and California have been acknowledged for stabilizing water supplies in the short term.
Las Vegas’ KLAS notes that under the Biden administration, there has been a significant increase in federal funding for water projects. However, Reclamation is still developing a comprehensive management plan for the Colorado River, set to be implemented in 2027.
The Current Levels.
Lake Mead is currently at 34% full and Lake Powell at 37% full. Factors such as a wet winter, conservation efforts, and climate change continue to influence the management and future of these critical water resources.