Monday, October 21, 2013

Stretching the Colorado River

You can only stretch a river so far, and The Colorado river which serves as a water source to seven states including parts of Mexico, has possibly reached its temporary breaking point.  The Colorado River is responsible for filling both Lake Mead and Lake Powell.  In response to the recently released report from the Bureau of Reclamation's anticipated 24 month study, the agency is looking to cut water realeased from Lake Powell's Glen Canyon Dam by a staggering 750,000 acre feet which averages out to serving approximately 1.5 million homes.  It is the first time in in the history of that dam that water heading downstream will be cut.  This shortage has raised concern for municipalities, agricultural communities as well as environmentalist groups concerned for the fish and wildlife habbitats that will be directly affected.

Currently, Las Vegas Nevada has 2 'straws' in Lake Mead, which is approximately 300 miles from Lake Powell, in order to provide enough water for the city's ever growing urban population.  At this time officials are already having to consider drawing from deeper in the reservoir to avoid price hikes and shortages on water for surrounding municipalities.  Brad Udall from the University of Colorado's Law School, explains how, "Something very, very unusual is going on." With the combination of a staggering drought and increased demands, an incredible 8.23 million acre feet of water is supposed to reach Lake Mead and Powell each year in order to serve Nevada, Arizona, California and Mexico.  "Basically, Mead has lost the equivalent of one entire year's worth of flow." Udall explained, "It's missing 8 million acre feet of water."  In addition to this frightening statistic, Lake Powell is also missing a years worth of water, an estimated 15 million acre feet.  So, while the drought rages on, many states in the west will spend the winter praying for heavy wet snow and rain to hopefully buffer this rather remarkable shortage.  Time to rapidly preform a dozen snow dances, no time to waste here folks. 
Photo: Compliments of National Geographic

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