For our final post in this series, let’s take a look at Lake Havasu. Lake Havasu is a reservoir behind Parker Dam on the Colorado River on the border between California and Arizona, and has a capacity of 648,000 acre-ft (211 billion gallons of water). Parker Dam was constructed by the US Bureau of Reclamation between 1934 and 1938. Named in 1939 after the Mojave word for “blue,” the primary purpose for Lake Havasu is to store water for pumping into two aqueducts: the Colorado River Aqueduct, and the Central Arizona Project Aqueduct.
The Colorado River Aqueduct (CRA) is operated by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies water to almost all cities in the greater Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego areas. The average annual throughput for the CRA is approximately 1,200,000 acre-ft (nearly 391 billion gallons of water).
Lake Havasu is also the water source for the Central Arizona Project Aqueduct (CAP). In our previous posts, we covered how the project was designed to provide water for irrigated agricultural areas, as well as municipal water for several Arizona communities, including the metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson. When CAP construction began in 1973, Parker Dam and Lake Havasu were extended from the California/Arizona border, and Lake Havasu became the head source for the CAP aqueduct. The CAP was designed to deliver 1.5 million acre-feet (over 488 million gallons) annually.
With a surface area of about 19,300 acres, Lake Havasu not only supplies both the CRA and the CAP, but it is well known for its recreational fishing and boating, and the lake has been the setting of several Hollywood productions. Lake Havasu stores and supplies water for hundreds of thousands of people annually, while tournaments and tourism draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to the lake each year. Lake Havasu is a large lake with a large impact.