Seven Western states have come together ahead of a federal mandate to cut water usage during the 19-year drought that has plagued the region. These states include Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
At the beginning of March, Lake Mead had fallen to 1,088 feet above sea level, but once it reaches 1,075 feet, the federal government will declare a shortage. This would result in mandatory water restrictions for these states. The last time the water reached these levels was in the 1960s.
What’s At Risk
The water levels of Lake Mead are integral to these states. For starters, Lake Mead is the large reservoir created by the Hoover Dam. The water comes from the Colorado River. If the water levels were to fall below 950 feet, the turbines in the Hoover dam would no longer be able to generate electricity. This would cause a large energy crisis in the area and these states would need to rely on other, less environmentally friendly, sources of energy.
Even worse, at 895 feet, the lake will reach the “deadpool’ status, which means that no water will be able to flow out. Over 40 million people rely on the water in Lake Mead for everyday use. Cutting off this water supply will impact a large portion of the United States population. It can significantly raise the cost of water in the affected areas along with a host of other problems.
What is Causing This Drought
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but without a doubt, climate change is the biggest factor. Over the last few decades, the western area of the United States has become much hotter and drier. When you combine these factors, droughts become more widespread and forests fires become more common. As proof, 2018 was one of the worst years for forest fires, which backs up these claims.
This will also make water evaporate much quicker from our freshwater sources and eventually they will run dry. The Western part of the United States is not the only nation facing this problem. England is facing a similar, although more severe water problem as well.
Even if we were to stop emitting greenhouse gases into the air, Western America would continue to get hotter and dryer because of the damage already done to the environment. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t cut our greenhouse gas emissions.
Better Water Management Is Crucial
Many scientists have claimed that water will become rarer than oil in the future and the severe effects of climate change will only hasten this outcome. To better prepare for this outcome, every nation must improve its water management plans. Reducing the amount of water consumed will help future generations survive.