Drought in the American West | Historical Restrictions in the Colorado Basin

(Los Angeles) On Monday, as a result of the chronic drought in the western United States, the federal government declared water restrictions on Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the country fed by the Colorado River, for the first time in history.

Posted on Aug 16, 2021 at 7:56 pm

The water resources management authority has just released its forecasts for the next 24 months and the outlook is very worrying: By the end of the year, Lake Mead, a gigantic reservoir on the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas, will have reached its lowest level since its inception Established in the 1930s.

Also fed by Colorado, Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir in the United States, recently hit its lowest level on record at only about 32% fill.

PHOTO RICK BOWMER, AP

A white streak of newly exposed rock along the walls of Lake Powell Canyon

As a result, federal agencies have announced plans to introduce restrictions on states downstream of Lake Mead next year that will affect millions of consumers, including farmers. Arizona will receive about 18% less water compared to a normal year, Nevada 7% less, and Mexico, where Colorado finishes its race, 5% less.

There could also be restrictions downstream of the lake if the situation deteriorates too quickly.

“Like much of the West and our interconnected river basins, Colorado faces unprecedented and accelerating challenges,” said Tanya Trujillo, an official with the Federal Water Resources Agency.

“The only way to respond to these challenges and climate change is to use the best of science and collaborate,” she adds.

According to a study published last year by the United States Geological Agency (USGS), the Colorado River has declined an average of 20% over the past century, and at least half of that decrease is due to increases in local temperatures.

“Worldwide, 800 million people are threatened with chronic water scarcity due to the drought caused by a warming of + 2 ° C,” says a draft report by UN climate experts (IPCC), which was presented to the AFP last June.

Because of the greenhouse gases generated by human activities, mostly fossil fuels, the planet has already gained around 1.1 ° C since the pre-industrial era. Most of this warming has occurred in the past 50 years.

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