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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Lake Mead Crisis: Water Level Plummets To Record Lows As The Consequences Of Climate Change

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Parts of the US have begun to resemble Saharan Africa after the worst drought in living memory as plummeting water levels raised the specter of Lake Mead tanking within a few years. A set of guidelines for 20 years by the Colorado River basin states in 2007 had planned for just an eventuality. But the extent of the drought has confounded planners.

The past 12 months have been the driest even for Arizona, which began much earlier and doesn’t seem to end. The levels at the lake, the largest water reservoir in the US, are the lowest ever, even as western regions of the United States continue to stay in the vicious grip of a never-ending mega-drought. Scientists find it hard to fit the violent heatwave into their plans.

Lake Mead Points To A Worst Case Scenario

Lake Mead formed on the Colorado River in Southwestern US. It was formed by the building of the Hoover Dam in 1935 and serves California, Arizona, and Nevada, generates electricity, and provides water to 25 million people.

The level at Lake Mead is at its lowest ever, at just 200 feet above the ‘dead pool’ level. At that point, no water can pass through Hoover Dam. The water now stands at only 36% of its capacity. Scientists’ feat that the dip in water level will continue for another couple of years. Water Policy Expert, Felicia Marcus of Stanford University said that the speed at which conditions were deteriorating was ‘frightening’, warning that it was a ‘red alert’ situation.

Read: Groundwater In The US & Worldwide Is In Risk Of Potentially Running Dry

An official water crisis is expected to be declared next month leading to major water cuts for Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico. Las Vegas, San Diego, and Phoenix are the major cities dependent on Lake Mead for their water supply, with Las Vegas obtaining 90% of its drinking water supply from it.

Two-thirds of the western US is in the grip of a vicious drought, with more than half of the affected region facing extreme drought, as per data released by US Drought Monitor. The region has been facing some form of drought-like conditions for over two decades. As of now, massive cuts in water supply seem likely for at least till 2022.

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