August 11, 2008
Powell’s Water Levels at Highest in 6 Years
PHOENIX (AP) -- Lake Powell has reached its highest level in six years, a sign that the Colorado River is recovering from one of the worst dry spells on record.
The giant reservoir that straddles the Arizona-Utah line hit its peak for the year late last month, 45 feet higher than it was in March before the river swelled with melted snow from the wettest winter on the Colorado watershed in a decade.
The runoff boosted water storage for Arizona and the other states that rely on the Colorado River and improved conditions for boaters and anglers, many of whom had stayed away from the drought-stricken lake since its decline.
The higher water levels also triggered new water-management rules for Lake Powell and downstream sibling Lake Mead, less than six months after the seven river states agreed on a plan to operate the two reservoirs as one storage system.
Drought conditions struck Lake Powell near the end of 1999. Water levels dropped steadily as runoff into the river fell below average over the next six years.
By 2005, the reservoir shrank to one-third of capacity, the lowest point since it began to fill in 1963.
Runoff this year neared 110 percent of the long-term average, enough to push Powell's water levels to their highest since August 2002. It is now 63 percent full, still 67 feet below the full mark.
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