(AP) Heavy winter snows in the Rocky Mountains have rescued the thirsty Western U.S. for another year.
U.S. water managers said Tuesday there will be no water cutbacks in 2018 for millions of residents and farmers served by the Lake Mead reservoir on the Colorado River that lies behind the Hoover Dam.
“The projection indicates there is no chance of shortage in 2018,” said Rose Davis, spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. “Zero.”
January water levels are expected to be 8 feet (2.5 meters) above the point that triggers a drought-shortage declaration on the closely watched lake, according to a key 24-month projection by the water system management agency.
The report is a turnabout from a year ago, when the agency projected a 50-50 chance the lake level would fall just below the shortage point of 1,075 feet (330 meters) above sea level.
Under the interstate agreements governing the river’s use, a shortage declaration would force officials to cut some water deliveries to Arizona and Nevada.
Overall, the river serves more than 40 million people in cities, farms and tribes in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Mexico also gets a share.
Davis said conservation and water-banking programs involving Mexico, California, Arizona and Nevada were a main reason the largest constructed reservoir in the U.S. will not fall below the drought shortage point.
Water banking allows users to leave some of their water in Lake Mead for later use, with some restrictions.
Combined, conservation and water banking have added about 10 feet (3 meters) to the lake level.