Lake Powell’s Water Level Decline Due to Drought and Shrinking Storage Capacity | CNN

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Lake Powell, which is the US’s second-largest human-made reservoir, has seen its potential storage capacity decrease by nearly 7% since the construction of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963, according to a recent report.

Apart from the impact of a prolonged drought, a report by the US Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation highlighted that Lake Powell has been experiencing an average annual reduction in storage capacity of roughly 33,270 acre-feet, or 11 billion gallons, per year between 1963 and 2018.

This amount of water is sufficient to fill the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall about 1,600 times.

The reservoir’s capacity is decreasing due to sediments brought in by the Colorado and San Juan rivers, which settle at the reservoir’s bottom, reducing the overall water holding capacity.

Currently, Lake Powell is approximately 25% full as of data released by the Bureau of Reclamation.

Not only is Lake Powells water level plummeting because of

The diminishing water levels at Lake Powell worsen water scarcity and intensify wildfires in a region already grappling with drought conditions. Experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict that these challenges could persist or worsen in the near future.

Lake Powell plays a crucial role in the Colorado River Basin, but both Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US, have been depleting rapidly. Following Lake Mead’s water level plummeting to unprecedented depths in August, the federal government imposed water consumption restrictions for Southwest states beginning in January.

Recently, Lake Powell dropped below the critical altitude of 3,525 feet above sea level, raising concerns about water supply and electricity generation for millions of people in the Western US who depend on hydropower.

The ramifications of dwindling water resources along the Colorado River cannot be overstated.

The Colorado River system supports over 40 million residents in seven Western states and Mexico. Lakes Powell and Mead serve as critical sources of drinking water and irrigation for various communities, including rural areas, farms, ranches, and indigenous populations.

Tanya Trujillo, the assistant secretary for water and science at the US Department of the Interior, emphasized the importance of leveraging scientific insights to plan for Lake Powell’s water availability amidst ongoing challenges such as prolonged drought and escalating climate change impacts.

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