The United States’ largest reservoirs are rapidly depleting, and the water crisis could quickly turn into an electricity crisis. The reclamation bureau released updated modeling forecasts at the main levels of the reservoirs in the Colorado River system on Sept. 22 and things are not going well.
There is a possibility that Lake Powell, the second largest artificial reservoir in the United States, could fall below a crucial threshold in the coming years, thanks to the mega-flow caused by climate change and growing water demand. This would significantly reduce the production of hydropower in the tank, affecting millions.
Forecasts indicate that Lake Powell and Lake Mead will continue to be at risk of reaching critically low altitudes as a result of severe drought and low runoff conditions in the Colorado River Basin.
Lake Powell has a 3 percent chance of falling below the 1,064-meter barrier needed to maintain turbine rotation next year, and a 34 percent chance in 2023. The Glen Canyon Dam, which holds Lake Powell, generates enough hydroelectric power to power 5.8 million structures when it is fully operational so that millions of people in the West can be affected.
The reservoir created by Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, on the other hand, supplies water to 25 million people and is the largest reservoir in the United States – it also faces a similar fate. The water level dropped to 1,071 feet above sea level on 9 June, breaking the previous bottom established in 2016, and according to the Glen Canyon Institute, the Lake Mead tank will probably never fill up again. The video embedded below shows parallel comparison of the water level on Lake Mead in June 2021 and what it looked like in 1941. Since 2000, the surface of the lake has dropped by 140 feet, and the clear difference is as clear as day.
There is a 66 percent chance that Lake Mead will sink below 312 meters in 1025, according to the Land Reclamation Bureau. This is a critical threshold that, if exceeded, would lead to a Level 3 water crisis. The dam provides drinking water to Arizona, Nevada and parts of Mexico, and generates electricity for parts of Arizona, California and Nevada. As a result of drought, extreme heat and the risk of fire, the region will face an environmental crisis, putting millions on the brink of severe water restrictions. According to Gizmodo,, the drought has already stopped hydroelectric production of at least one dam in California, forcing the state to open five temporary natural gas facilities to make up for the deficit.