May 7, 2018

Outlook for Colorado River This Year Remains Grim

April storms did not produce much snow to feed the Southwest's most vital river, agency says.

Lake Powell at sunset The late-afternoon sun on Lake Powell, April 2018. (PHOTO: Vanessa Barchfield, AZPM)

DENVER — Forecasters say this year's outlook for the most important river in the Southwestern U.S. remains grim.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday that April storms failed to produce much snow in the mountains that feed the Colorado River.

Lake Powell, one of two huge reservoirs that store and distribute the river water, is expected to get only 43 percent of the average inflow.

But officials say Lake Powell and its companion, Lake Mead, will have enough water to avoid mandatory cutbacks this year.

The Colorado River serves about 40 million people and 6,300 square miles of farmland in seven U.S. states and Mexico.

An 18-year drought has reduced the river's flow. Researchers have said climate change is also to blame.

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