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 reveals.
Along with water loss as a result of an intense multiyear drought, the US Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation report discovered, Lake Powell confronted a median 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 occasions.
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 overall 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 dangerous information for a area already going through water shortages and excessive wildfires because of the drought. Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration drought consultants mentioned final week these situations are anticipated to no less than proceed – if not worsen – within the coming months.
Lake Powell is a crucial reservoir within the Colorado River Basin. Each Lake Powell and close by Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, have drained at an alarming charge. In August, the federal authorities declared a water scarcity on the Colorado River for the primary time after Lake Mead’s water stage plunged to unprecedented lows, triggering obligatory water consumption cuts for states within the Southwest that started in January.
And final week, Lake Powell dipped beneath the essential threshold of three,525 toes above sea stage, sparking extra considerations about water provide and hydropower era hundreds of 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 folks dwelling throughout seven Western states and Mexico. Lakes Powell and Mead present a essential provide of consuming water and irrigation for a lot of throughout the area, together with rural farms, ranches and native communities.
“It’s vitally essential we now have the best-available scientific data like this report to offer a transparent understanding of water availability in Lake Powell as we plan for the longer term,” Tanya Trujillo, assistant secretary for water and science with the US Division of Inside, mentioned in an announcement. “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.”