In addition to water damage caused by years of severe drought, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation report found that Lake Powell experienced an average annual loss of 33,270 acre-feet or 11 billion gallons of storage capacity per year by 1963. And 2018.
This is enough water to fill the reflective pool of the National Mall about 1,600 times.
Reservoir capacity is shrinking due to siltation from the Colorado and San Juan rivers, the report said. These sediments settle to the bottom of the reservoir and reduce the total amount of water that the reservoir can hold.
As of Monday, Lake Powell was about 25% full, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.
This is bad news for an area already facing water shortages and wildfires due to drought. Drought experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last week that conditions are expected to at least continue – if not worse – in the coming months.
Lake Powell is an important reservoir in the Colorado River Basin. Lake Powell and nearby Lake Mid, the country’s largest reservoir, have both been depleted at an alarming rate. In August, the federal government announced a water shortage for the first time on the Colorado River when the water level in Lake Mead dropped to an unprecedented low, reducing mandatory water costs for southwestern states beginning in January.
And last week, Lake Powell plunged below the critical threshold of 3,525 feet above sea level, raising additional concerns about water supply and hydropower generation. Millions of people in the West depend on electricity.
The significance of the declining water supply along Colorado cannot be overstated.
The system supplies water to more than 40 million people living across seven western states and across Mexico. Lake Powell and Mid provide an important supply of drinking water and irrigation for many across the region, including rural farms, farms and local communities.
“It is important that we have the best-available scientific data like this report for a clear understanding of the availability of water in Lake Powell as we plan for the future,” said Tania Trujillo, Assistant Secretary of Water and Science at the U.S. Department of the Interior. , Said in a statement. “The Colorado River system faces multiple challenges, including the effects of 22 years of prolonged drought and the increasing impact of climate change.”