Lake Havasu City is completely dependent on water from the Colorado River. The Lower Colorado River has three primary reservoirs including Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, and Lake Havasu. Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States with a holding capacity of over 26 million acre-feet of water (an acre-foot is approximately 325,851 gallons). Lake Mead is not just an important reservoir because of its holding capacity however; it is serves as the indicator by which federally declared water shortages may be enacted on Lower Colorado River Basin States. The Bureau of Reclamation monitors river flow operations, and predicts the most probable inflow forecast for the Colorado River reservoirs every month. In August of every year, if the Lake Mead elevation is predicted to be 1075 feet above mean sea level or lower in January of the upcoming year, then The Secretary of Interior will declare a tier one shortage for the Lower Colorado River Basin States.

Being a Lake Havasu City resident, it may appear that our water supply is very stable as our lake level here in Lake Havasu remains fairly constant. However, appearances are not always what they may seem to be. The Lake Havasu Reservoir serves as a major diversion point via the Central Arizona Project (CAP) Aqueduct and the Colorado River Aqueduct, and these aqueducts are only operational if the lake level remains stable at certain levels. This is why Lake Mead’s elevation continues to drop while Lake Havasu (which is downstream) remains stable to continue the delivery of water to users further downstream.

Our water supply comes from the Colorado River Aquifer via various groundwater wells that are hydrologically connected to the Lake Havasu Reservoir. Lake Havasu City has 4th priority contracted Colorado River entitlements that total 28,581.7 acre-feet of water per year. Although this amount of water is sufficient to feed the community until we reach our buildout population (approximately 96,000 people), the importance of conservation is still immense, as a federally declared shortage would lower our entitlement or how much water we can obtain for the year. The 2007 Interim Guidelines for the Coordinated Operations of Lakes Mead and Powell is the agreement that set the precedence for how water is managed during shortage declarations.


Since 2000, the Colorado River Basin has been in the midst of the worst drought in recorded history. During this time, snowfall and runoff into the basin has been below average leading to significant declines in water levels of major reservoirs such as Lake Powell and Lake Mead. With no end in sight for the continued drought the basin has experienced, and with increasing dependence on the River as groundwater supplies decrease and populations continue to grow, water resource management has become a necessity.

Along with the 2007 Interim Guidelines, the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan was signed to continue to reduce risks posed by drought. These agreements put in place are designed to keep more water in the River, slow the decline of Lake Mead water levels, pull participation from stakeholders such as Mexico and California, and allow for water banking in Lake Mead in the form of Intentionally Created Surplus. These agreements benefit all water users and the environment, and help manage our delicate water supply.