Lake Powell and Lake Mead Water Levels Drop to Historic Lows

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U.S.|Two of America’s largest reservoirs scope grounds lows amid lasting drought.

Lake Powell successful  confederate  Utah past  month.
Credit...Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

John Schwartz

  • July 27, 2021, 4:32 p.m. ET

The h2o level successful Lake Powell has dropped to the lowest level since the U.S. authorities started filling the tremendous reservoir connected the Colorado River successful the 1960s — different motion of the ravages of the Western drought.

On Monday, the excavation elevation successful Lake Powell, which stretches from Utah into Arizona, had dropped to 3,554 feet. (On Tuesday, it stood astatine 3,555 feet.) The h2o level has plunged arsenic the American West experiences what scientists are calling a “megadrought.”

Too small h2o is coming into the lake, and excessively overmuch is being sent downriver to support levels successful Lake Mead, which is besides astatine historically debased levels. The 2 reservoirs, among the largest successful the United States, are portion of a stream strategy that provides h2o to much than 40 cardinal people.

The dams that clasp backmost the h2o connected the lakes nutrient hydropower for galore Western states, and electric accumulation from the Hoover Dam astatine Lake Mead has dropped by astir 25 percent during the drought.

Rising temperatures and a deficiency of rainfall linked to clime alteration successful the West person besides contributed to the confederate information of Utah’s Great Salt Lake reaching a caller low, with much diminution expected successful the coming months, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Last month, the national Bureau of Reclamation released a 24-month survey showing that the magnitude of h2o flowing into Lake Powell had dropped sharply successful the erstwhile six months, and issued a prediction of a 79 percent chance that Lake Powell would autumn beneath 3,525 feet “sometime successful the adjacent year,” which could pb to stricter h2o restrictions.

At that time, Wayne Pullan, the Upper Colorado Basin determination manager for the bureau, said, “This is simply a superior situation.”

Brad Udall, a elder clime idiosyncratic astatine Colorado State University, was much blunt: “I’m struggling to travel up with words to picture what we’re seeing here,” helium said.

The effects of clime alteration and h2o usage absorption person led to “off the charts” h2o depletion, helium said, comparing the h2o regularisation measures that are presently successful spot to a parachute. “I interest that the parachute is not large enough,” helium said, “and that we didn’t deploy it soon enough.”

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