A new record low in Lake Powell water levels has just been reached, endangering the hydroelectric power supply.
The second-largest reservoir in the country, Lake Powell, which supplies water and electricity to millions of residents and businesses in southern California, has recently reached its lowest levels since it was first topped off in the 1960s.
The levels in Lake Mead, its companion reservoir, are almost as low.
Together, these reservoirs, which receive water from the powerful Colorado River, supply the water that 40 million Americans rely on.
Experts claim it will require years of such wet weather to replenish the West’s water resources, despite the storms that introduced heavy snow and rain to California as well as other Western states in January.
Brad Udall, a scientist specializing on water and climate from Colorado State University, pointed out that the two reservoirs were nearly full in 2000, but are now only about 25% full.
The Colorado River’s significance to the entire American southwest cannot be overstated.
Lake Powell and Power Supply
The Colorado River was dammed at Glen Canyon in southern Utah as well as northern Arizona to create Lake Powell.
In accordance with the Colorado River Compact, it serves as a water storage facility and generates electricity using Glen Canyon Dam’s hydroelectric turbines.
1956 saw the start of construction on the Lake Powell dam, which was completed in 1966.
It took sixteen years to fill.
The lake rose to a height of 3,708 feet above sea level in 1983. Its current height is 3,522 feet, according to Lakes Online.com.
Since June of 1965, which is just two years after it started to fill with water, Lake Powell hasn’t been this low.
According to USA Today, the lake will be unable to produce water if its level drops significantly.
This is due to the possibility that tubes carrying water from the lake into eight hydroelectric turbines will soon be above the surface.
Below that, bypass tubes are available, but it’s unclear how well they would perform because they weren’t made for continuous use.
Udall pointed out that everyone downstream will run out of water if the dam has trouble releasing its water.
Agriculture and urban areas like Los Angeles, San Diego, and Phoenix are included in this.
In a previous article published by The Guardian, it was said that The Colorado River infrastructure is managed by the US federal agency Bureau of Reclamation, which predicts that despite significant proposed reductions to water allowances, there is a 23% chance that power production at the dam could stop in 2024 because of low water levels and that it is possible that it will happen as soon as July 2023.
New Record Low Water Levels
Lake Powell’s water level is low as a result of the Colorado River’s water level declining over time.
The West’s growing population has increased demand at the same time.
In comparison to the 20th century, the river’s overall flow has decreased by 20% in this century.
A significant portion of the decline has been attributed to human climate change in more than four scientific studies.
In part, this is due to less rain and snow, in part, it is because plants require more water as temperatures rise, and in part, it is due to more water evaporating out of the soil than would have otherwise ended up in the river.
The river itself also evaporates more frequently.
The Colorado River Compact’s seven member states were required by the Department of the Interior to develop a plan by January to reduce water use by between 2 and 4 million acre-feet.
However, no developments were discussed just yet.
As a result, it’s anticipated that the Bureau of Reclamation of the Department of the Interior will impose one by 2024, USA Today reported.
Related Article: Lake Mead Water Levels Declining Rapidly, Even Seen From Space!
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