72°F
weather icon Clear

Slow and steady

For Nevadans at the forefront of the West’s water crisis, snowpack in the Rocky Mountains that eventually trickles down to Lake Mead is always front of mind.

Following an incredibly wet year that brought the Colorado River basin a brief reprieve, early signs point to a less impressive snowpack this time around, said Paul Miller, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center in Salt Lake City.

Current estimates place the Upper Colorado River Basin snowpack at 103 percent of a 30-year historical average — a noticeable downgrade from last year at this time, when the snowpack hovered around 130 percent.

Not every year can be as wet as water managers want it to be, but the numbers are providing some hope, Miller said. Generally, wet years are followed by dry ones.

“It’s a positive that we haven’t gone from one extreme to the other so much this year,” he said, cautioning that numbers have historically fluctuated before snowpacks peak around the first week of April. “We’ve gone from a very wet extreme closer to a normal balance.”

Throughout the Sierra Nevada, though, blizzards between Feb. 29 and March 4 have bolstered the state’s snowpack in every basin. This is good news for rural Nevadans who rely on wells that draw groundwater from those basins, which will be heartily recharged if snowpack continues down this path.

Basins unclear on path forward

Snowpack levels are underscored by the race to update river appropriations before they expire at the end of 2026.

Upper Basin states — Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico — disagree with the Lower Basin states — California, Nevada and Arizona — as to whether cuts in water allotments should be shared across the basin.

Both groups of states have proposed, however, that the Lower Basin will need to take cuts to account for water loss to evaporation and transit.

Lake Mead, the reservoir that provides about 90 percent of Southern Nevada’s water, is set to dip close to historic lows seen in 2022, according to Bureau of Reclamation projections.

At the end of February, the water level sat at 1,076.52 feet, compared with 1,040.58 feet in July 2022 at the lowest-ever level.

Regulators are counting on snowpack to provide breathing room in the water supply for negotiations to shape up over the next two years, but whether that will happen remains to be seen.

“We’ll cross our fingers for continued snowpack conditions,” Miller said.

Contact Alan Halaly at ahalaly@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlanHalaly on X.

THE LATEST
Former fire chief Gray discusses termination

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for the city, and specifically the fire department, as questions of whether or not Will Gray was still employed as that department’s chief spread through town.

Breeding proposal breeds opposition

Judging by the number of people speaking out against it during public comment at the last city council meeting and the tone of numerous social media posts, the proposal to allow for licensed pet breeders to operate in Boulder City is itself breeding a growing opposition. And the opposition appears to be spilling over into other pet-centric issues, including the fact that, unlike anywhere else in Clark County, Boulder City does not require dogs to be on a leash in public.

Wanted: A good home for theater seats

For those who have either grown up in Boulder City or are longtime residents, the Boulder City Theatre holds a special place in the hearts of many.

Hangars and OHVs and pool people, oh my

In a meeting with only two council members present in the room (and the other three on the phone) and in which the major attention was divided between a contentious possible law concerning pets and the fact that the city manager had announced he was leaving for a new job on the East Coast, the council did take a series of other notable actions.

Look, up in the sky…

Ron Eland/Boulder City Review

Council hears plan for golf course turf reduction

Reducing water usage in Southern Nevada has been a subject that has affected the look of clean, green Boulder City multiple times in the past year.

City confirms fire chief no longer employed

After more than two weeks of inquiries by the Boulder City Review, late Tuesday afternoon the city confirmed that Boulder City Fire Chief Will Gray is no longer employed.

Residents weigh in on 99 Cents Store’s shuttering

In what came as a surprise to many who are frequent shoppers, officials from 99 Cents Only Stores announced last week that all of their 371 locations will be closing over the next several weeks.

Four suspects arrested in graffiti case

On Jan. 22, many residents were shocked by a rash of graffiti throughout town, which included the historic Boulder City Theatre.