On Sunday, Lake Powell the nation’s second largest reservoir has sunk to its lowest level in half a century. The Utah reservoir has hit its lowest level as a result of drought due to climate change and also due to an increase in demand for water. Excessive heat and reduced snowfall have also led to declining water levels. CNN reported that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said that the level had fallen to approximately 33 percent at almost 3,554 feet in elevation.
Scientists, officials, and other experts are worried at the falling levels in Lake Powell in Utah and Lake Mead in Nevada, which is the nation’s largest reservoir. More than 95 percent of Western U.S.A. Is experiencing drought. More than 28 percent of the area is experiencing severe drought. The draining of these two major water resources will cause additional problems for residences as well as farms and ranches.
The Colorado river flows through and fills these lakes. The river system supplies water to those who live in seven states U.S. in the upper and lower basin regions and Mexico. About 40 million residents depend on this river system and could be adversely affected by the draining of the lakes.
In 2020, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey reported that the Colorado river’s flow had decreased by about 20 percent in the last century. Increased drought due to climate change is also affecting the water stored in the lakes as the beds are dry. High temperatures and reduced snowfall across the basin also led to a decline in the storage levels.
John Fleck, the director of the Water Resources Program at the University of New Mexico said that it could be an alarming situation as a buffer in Lake Powell can allow water to flow down to Lake Mead.
Wayne Pullan, who is the director for the Upper Colorado Basin at the Bureau of Reclamation said that the bureau has begun releasing water from three upstream reservoirs, much ahead of schedule to ensure that it can maintain the infrastructure, maintain the ability to generate power and meet obligations of water delivery to lower basin states.