Anomalous drought awaits the US West. For the first time in history, the government prepares for water restrictions

Anomalous drought awaits the US West. For the first time in history, the government prepares for water restrictions
Anomalous drought awaits the US West. For the first time in history, the government prepares for water restrictions
Anonim

The US Bureau of Reclamation has published a two-year forecast of the hydrological situation in the Colorado River Basin. According to the available data, this year it will receive an incredibly small amount of water from mountain runoff and precipitation. Relevant authorities and infrastructure organizations are gearing up to declare a federal water shortage declaration for the first time in the history of the United States.

Anomalous drought awaits the US West. For the first time in history, the government prepares for water supply restrictions

According to Phys.org portal with reference to the US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), the level of reservoirs that supply the western states of America and Mexico, will fall to historic lows in the next 24 months. The agency released such a forecast the other day, and, according to the document, this will happen due to a lack of water inflow into the Colorado River. There are several reasons for this situation.

First, as a result of the ongoing warming of the climate, the snow caps of the Rocky Mountains are decreasing every year. Second, the high temperatures of the spring and summer months increase the evaporation of water from the surface of Lakes Mead and Powell, as well as in the upper reaches of the Colorado River and its tributaries. Finally, thirdly, the dried up soil absorbs more water, that is, the natural consumption for irrigation will be higher.

By June this year, the level of Lake Mead - the largest reservoir in the United States - will drop to 328 meters. This is a critical level when the federal authorities will be forced to introduce a declaration on water scarcity. As a result, a tougher regime for the consumption of life-giving moisture will be established in the vast territories of the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. In the worst case scenario, only Arizona will lose a third of the state's available water.

Significantly, the drop in the water level in Lake Mead will also affect the power generation of the hydroelectric power plant at Hoover Dam. It provides energy to rural areas of Arizona and Nevada - a total of several million people. And if relatively large surrounding cities prepare in advance for possible interruptions by installing other types of generating capacities, then small settlements have little choice.

Anomalous drought awaits the US West. For the first time in history, the government prepares for water supply restrictions

However, a catastrophe of a universal scale is likely to be avoided. The region has been preparing for such difficulties for a long time: the situation has been brewing for more than 20 years in a row. The problem of energy supply has already been partially solved: the Hoover Dam has undergone a large-scale modernization of turbines for the last decade. They can now operate even at critically low water levels in Lake Mead. Generation, of course, will be minimal, but at least the power plant will not stop at all.

To reduce the likelihood of scarcity, Nevada, for example, is introducing sophisticated recycling mechanisms for used water. And so that these savings measures are not reflected in the total consumption of the state from the Colorado River Basin. Such a trick is important from a bureaucratic point of view, otherwise local consumers would be wasting more water than actually entering their homes and their fields from the reservoir.

Other states have also worked hard and continue to work to ensure that the comfort of their residents in this arid region does not suffer.The measures are very different, but they all boil down to one thing: they have almost no alternatives to Lake Mead in particular and the Colorado River Basin, so you need to save money. Although the local government reminds that it is too early to be intimidated by the USBR forecasts, the final decisions regarding next year will not be made until August, when actual observations are usually checked against previously announced data. Unless, of course, the reservoirs dry up in June.

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