With scorching hot temperatures and wildfires spreading across the West, a water drought could be on its way in the near future especially for states that depend on Lake Mead.
Lake Mead, the reservoir created by the Hoover Dam, saw its water level fall to a record low of nearly 1,068.55 feet above sea level. This is the lowest it’s been since the dam was initially constructed ninety years ago. Lake Mead is the nation’s largest water reservoir and is a vital source of water for over 25 million people across states such as California, Arizona, and Nevada.
Due to climate change and the current heatwave, the reservoir has suffered a severe dip in its water level this year. As a result, the reservoir is only 37 percent full this year. In addition, the water levels at Lake Mead, are expected to continue decreasing throughout the summer.
This has left many officials worried about the possibility of a water shortage for the first time ever. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox is also asking everyone, regardless of religious affiliation, to join their weekend of humble prayer for rain.
Lower water levels also directly affect the dam’s efficiency of hydropower generation. The Hoover Dam supplies power to around 8 million people in western states. Its capacity has dropped by 25% from 2,000 megawatts to 1,500 megawatts which could significantly decrease power availability.
Though the situation is worrying, the water levels are not expected to drop below critical levels. According to Patti Aaron, the external affairs officer for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, “There are agreements and mechanisms in place to protect the reservoir from hitting critical levels. So, although it’s concerning, it is not at a critical level”.
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