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October 2, 2014

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More water headed to struggling Lake Mead

Image

John Locher / AP

In this July 24, 2014, photo, dropping water levels reveal larger islands in Lake Mead compared to a picture on an interpretive sign on a hill overlooking the lake in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada. A 14-year drought has caused the water level in the reservoir to shrink to its lowest point since it was first filled in the 1930s.

Updated Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 | 3:56 p.m.

Lake Mead - August 2013

Lake Mead National Recreation Area seen from Boulder City on Tuesday, August 13, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Drought-stricken Lake Mead will get a boost next year from an increased delivery of water from an upstream reservoir, the Bureau of Reclamation announced today.

But the extra water won’t be enough to stop the continued drop of the lake’s water elevation, which already is at record lows.

A snowy year in the Rocky Mountains translated to more water for the Colorado River Basin.

The Bureau of Reclamation said runoff is at 94 percent of historical averages this year, a marked improvement from 45 percent in 2012 and 47 percent in 2013.

The wet year means Lake Mead will get 8.23 million acre feet from the Lake Powell reservoir. That’s about 10 percent more than last year’s allocation.

An acre foot is equal to about 326,000 gallons of water, the amount used by two average homes in a year.

But because Lake Mead pumps out 9 million acre feet a year to downstream water users, lake levels will continue to drop. The Bureau of Reclamation projects the lake elevation will fall from 1,080 feet to 1,073 feet over the next year.

That could change in 2015, depending on weather conditions.

If the Colorado River Basin sees another wet year, Lake Mead could see it’s water allocation increase again to 9 million acre feet.

“We would basically be even,” said Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Rose Davis.

Lake Mead’s elevation has plunged by more than 100 feet since an extended drought took hold in 2000. The lake’s elevation is at the lowest point since the Hoover Dam was completed and the reservoir was filled in the 1930s.

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