Lake Mead’s rise may not end water crisis

Lake Mead
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  • Lake Mead’s water level continues to rise, briefly passing a key shortage threshold.
  • The lake’s rise offers a symbolic victory but doesn’t signal the end of Western water problems.
  • Negotiators face internal disagreements as a deadline approaches for new Colorado River management plans.
  • States may submit separate plans if a joint proposal isn’t ready.

February 19, 2024 –– Lake Mead, the vital reservoir on the Colorado River, has enjoyed a recent rise in water levels driven by winter rain and snow. However, despite these gains, longstanding challenges concerning water management persist throughout the West. Despite the water-level milestone, federal officials still consider Lake Mead within shortage conditions.

According to 8 News NowOpens in a new tab., the lake has risen nearly 7 feet since the beginning of 2024.  At 1,075 feet, it is at the highest that it has been since May 4, 2021.  According to the federal government, 1,075 feet is the threshold for a federal water shortage declaration.

Experts project Lake Mead will only maintain these higher levels for a short period before water levels drop again throughout 2024.

Representatives from the Colorado River Basin states face a rapidly approaching deadline to create a new water management planOpens in a new tab., yet it appears that a consensus on allocating the Colorado River might not happen. If they fail to reach a consensus, individual states may present their own management proposals separately to the federal government. The current system for water allocation on the Colorado River expires in 2026.


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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