Las Vegas Sun

July 17, 2019

Currently: 104° — Complete forecast

Colorado River basin reservoirs benefit from heavy snowpack

Colorado River

Ross D. Franklin / AP

In this May 31, 2018, file photo, the low level of the water line is shown on the banks of the Colorado River in Hoover Dam, Ariz.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Reservoirs around the Colorado River basin are in good shape after an exceptionally wet winter.

The largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, are expected to be more than half full this year. They haven't been near capacity since 1999 when drought took hold of the region.

The worst levels of drought have now disappeared from much of the basin that takes in seven Western states. It's a dramatic turn from this time last year when parts of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California were extremely or exceptionally dry.

Nevada and Wyoming also rely on water from the Colorado River.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation hydrologist Shana Tighi said Wednesday that one good year won't erase drought concerns. But she says it buys time for long-term planning.