Lake Powell, the second-largest human-made reservoir within the US, has misplaced practically 7% of its potential storage capability since 1963, when Glen Canyon Dam was constructed, a brand new report exhibits.
Along with water loss attributable to an intense multiyear drought, the US Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation report found, Lake Powell confronted a mean annual loss in storage capability of about 33,270 acre-feet, or 11 billion gallons, per yr between 1963 and 2018.
That’s sufficient water to fill the Reflecting Pool on the Nationwide Mall about 1,600 instances.
The capability of the reservoir is shrinking due to sediments flowing in from the Colorado and San Juan rivers, based on the report. These sediments settle on the backside of the reservoir and reduce the full quantity of water the reservoir can maintain.
As of Monday, Lake Powell was round 25% full, based on information from the Bureau of Reclamation.
It’s unhealthy information for a area already dealing with water shortages and excessive wildfires because of the drought. Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration drought specialists stated final week these situations are expected to at least continue – if not worsen – within the coming months.
Lake Powell is a vital reservoir within the Colorado River Basin. Each Lake Powell and close by Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, have drained at an alarming fee. In August, the federal authorities declared a water scarcity on the Colorado River for the primary time after Lake Mead’s water degree plunged to unprecedented lows, triggering necessary water consumption cuts for states within the Southwest that started in January.
And final week, Lake Powell dipped below the essential threshold of three,525 ft above sea degree, sparking extra issues about water provide and hydropower technology thousands and thousands of individuals within the West depend on for electrical energy.
The importance of the dwindling water provide alongside the Colorado can’t be overstated.
The system provides water for greater than 40 million individuals residing throughout seven Western states and Mexico. Lakes Powell and Mead present a essential provide of ingesting water and irrigation for a lot of throughout the area, together with rural farms, ranches and native communities.
“It’s vitally necessary we’ve got the best-available scientific info like this report to supply a transparent understanding of water availability in Lake Powell as we plan for the long run,” Tanya Trujillo, assistant secretary for water and science with the US Division of Inside, stated in a press release. “The Colorado River system faces a number of challenges, together with the consequences of a 22-year-long drought and the elevated impacts of local weather change.”