Winter storms have covered the Rocky Mountains with snow from Wyoming to northern New Mexico, leaving a bounty of runoff that should boost the levels of the Colorado River’s depleted reservoirs this spring and summer. The snow that fell during the past month has pushed the accumulated snowpack across the Upper Colorado River Basin to nearly 140 percent of average. Federal officials now estimate there could be enough snow to narrowly avert a declaration of a shortage at Lake Mead next year, which would hold off water cutbacks in the Southwest for another year.
Arizona’s efforts to finish a Colorado River drought plan are moving forward after leaders of the Gila River Indian Community announced that they will proceed with their piece of the deal. The community’s leader, Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, had threatened to pull out of the agreement if the Legislature didn’t drop a bill that he said would undermine the community’s water rights under a hard-fought settlement.