PHOENIX — If the summertime monsoon does what it’s supposed to do, water restrictions at Lake Mead won’t have to go into effect.
The water level in Lake Mead near Las Vegas is at an all-time low, but the Bureau of Reclamation expected water to return to 1,078 feet by year’s end, which would be 3 feet above the mark used to trigger restrictions.
As of now, the lake is at 1,074 feet, and it was expected to drop even more in the coming weeks.
Still, Dino DeSimone with the Natural Resources Conservation Service said he didn’t expect any restrictions on water for a while.
“We expect, due to the monsoon, the level of the lake will come up above the 1,075 elevation,” he said.
That would put the brakes on restrictions. Under agreements signed decades ago Arizona farmers would take the first water cuts if restrictions do kick in.
“Initially, it would be on agricultural land, so the first to lose water from the Central Arizona Project system would be the farmers.”
There was hope that the winter’s El Nino weather pattern would pump a lot of water into the lake but that was essentially a nonstarter.
“This winter was a bust,” DeSimone said.
“We were expecting a big wet winter and we only ended up with about two-thirds of our normal amount of precipitation in the Southwest.”
Some areas of the west did approach a normal winter — the upper Colorado Basin in Colorado, Utah and part of Wyoming reached around 90 percent of normal.