On May 17th, the Upper Division States of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, acting through the Upper Colorado River Commission (UCRC), approved the 2023 Drought Response Operations Plan impacting the reservoir operations of Flaming Gorge, Blue Mesa, and Lake Powell through April 2024. The plan is now submitted to Reclamation for approval and implementation. The plan takes advantage of the above-normal Colorado River flows this year to recover water released from Flaming Gorge and Blue Mesa reservoirs in 2021 and 2022 pursuant to the Drought Response Operating Agreement to protect critical elevations at Lake Powell. In total, Reclamation estimates that 588,000 acre-feet of storage will be recovered at Flaming Gorge and 36,000 acre-feet recovered at Blue Mesa.
The plan was developed through engagement and participation by Reclamation, Upper Division States, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, Navajo Nation, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, as well as water users and resource managers. The plan will adapt to changing conditions over the coming year as needed to respond to the actual hydrologic conditions, if necessary.