The US West remains in the grips of a two-decade “megadrought” linked to the climate crisis
Water levels in Lake Powell have dropped precipitously in the past few years, moving the lake even closer to “dead pool” status.
The reservoir is at a historic low as the US West remains in the grips of a two-decade “megadrought” that is linked to the climate crisis.
The United Nations Environment Programme recently warned that Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the two largest reservoirs in the country, were in danger of reaching “dead pool status”. This means that no water would be able to flow through the dams holding them back.
Lake Powell sits behind the Colorado River’s Glen Canyon Dam on the border between Utah and Arizona.
In April, the reservoir dropped to just over 3,522 feet in elevation, the lowest level ever recorded and well below the lake’s full capacity at 3,700ft.
Dead pool status for Lake Powell is at 3,370ft, however another dangerous benchmark looms even closer. At 3,490ft – 32ft below where it currently stands – the lake would stop producing electricity from its hydroelectric power stations.
In May, the US Bureau of Reclamation said that there about a 25 per cent chance the lake’s water levels would fall too low to produce electricity by 2024.
The Bureau of Reclamation does not forecast the lake reaching the lower dead pool status within the next five years.
The past two decades in the US west have been the driest in at least 1,200 years, according to a recent study, which has absolutely devastated water sources like Lake Powell.
The area around Lake Powell is currently experiencing “extreme drought” conditions, according to the US government’s drought monitor, meaning “widespread water shortages”.
And as the planet heats up, the climate crisis is expected to make drought conditions in the region even worse.
The impact of drought on Lake Powell has also been exacerbated by the overconsumption of water from the Colorado River.
Next week, a group of western states who rely on water from the river are required to provide an updated plan to the federal government on how they plan to reduce water use.