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Conservation officials say storms in California may provide relief for Lake Mead

Lake Mead
Posted at 10:35 AM, Jan 19, 2023

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — For the past week, the west coast has watched as storm after storm slams California, leading many to wonder about any potential impacts on Lake Mead or the Colorado River.

And it very well could, according to officials at the Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles.

For many Lake Mead visitors, watching the water levels get lower and lower over the years has been devastating.

One visitor who has visited the lake for years, Sharonne Jaeger told KTNV, "You can see the bathtub rings all the way around. You can see how much water we've lost."

But according to Demetri Polyzos, the Resource Planning Team Manager with the Metropolitan Water District, this year is actually shaping up to be a good start.

In Los Angeles, the MWD receives 25 percent of its water supply from the Colorado River and another 25 percent from Northern California. The snowpack map shows snow levels in the Sierra Nevada Mountains are well above average due to all the storms.

California Snowpack Map

Polyzos said, "It doesn't get us completely out of the woods, but it is going to help. Depending on how high the state water project goes this year, that is our supply from northern California, it is going to give us more opportunity to back off and ease up on bringing supplies from colorado."

If the storms continue, the district can take less from the Colorado River, and more from the California Water System, which has reservoirs
up and down the state.

Polyzos adds, "We are looking this year to not take so we are looking at ways to make that happen, that will of course help the situation on that system, on the Colorado system and keep water levels in Lake Mead higher."

In the past, Polyzos says they were able to reduce their Colorado River Water intake in wet years like 2017 and 2019. The state will have a better idea of how much water they can get from Northern California over the next month or two, he says.

Meanwhile, regulars at Lake Mead hope the storms in the west and in the Rockies raise the snowpack and send water flowing into Lake Mead and the river.

Jaeger says, "The more the lake fills up the better. There is always hope."