Lasting Drought Forces Reservoirs into Record Lows

According to the United States Geological Survey, some of America’s largest reservoirs – Lake Powell, Lake Mead, and Utah’s Great Salt Lake – have reached record lows, with more decline expected in the coming months.

Lake Powell’s water level has plummeted to the lowest level since the United States Government began filling the reservoir in the 1960s. The Western drought is responsible for creating severe conditions. Lake Powell stretches from Utah to Arizona and is currently experiencing a “megadrought.”  

A 24-month study was recently released by the Federal Bureau of Reclamation, which showed that the amount of water flowing into Lake Powell had plummeted considerably in the previous six months. With water restrictions already in place, they could become more strict as the Bureau of Reclamation outlined a 79 percent chance that the lake will fall below 3,525 feet next year.

Wayne Pullan, the Upper Colorado Basin regional director for the Bureau of Reclamation, said, “This is a serious situation.”

Lake Mead is also suffering from historically low levels of water. Both Lake Mead and Lake Powell are connected through a river system that delivers water to over 40 million people. The two reservoirs are among the largest in the United States.

A dam on Lake Mead provides hydropower for many Western states; electric production from the Hoover Dam has plunged by roughly 25 percent as a direct result of the drought.

Utah’s Great Salt Lake has reached a new low due to higher temperatures and a lack of rainfall.

Ineffective water management combined with the effects of climate change has led to the droughts, which could potentially worsen soon. 

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