Hoover Dam Reservoir hits record low water level in extreme drought

An engineering miracle symbolizing the rise of the United States in the 20th century, the reservoir built by the Hoover Dam has sunk to its lowest level ever, highlighting the severity of the extreme drought in the western United States.

Lake Mead was built in the 1930s by the Colorado River at the junction of Nevada and Arizona, about 50 kilometers east of Las Vegas. It is the largest reservoir in the United States. It is vital to the water supply for 25 million people in cities such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, and Las Vegas.

As of 11 p.m. Pacific time on Wednesday, the lake had fallen to 327 meters above sea level, which was lower than the historical low set on July 1, 2016. Since 2000, the surface of the lake has dropped 42.7 meters-almost from the torch to the base of the Statue of Liberty-revealing a ring of bathtub made of bleached white embankment.

The drought that caused the low waters of Lake Mead has swept across California, the Pacific Northwest, the large basins across Nevada, Oregon, and Utah, as well as Arizona and New Mexico in the southwest, and even parts of the Northern Plains.

Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States. It was built by the Hoover Dam, an engineering miracle symbolizing the rise of the United States in the 20th century. (Bridget Bennett/Reuters)

Farmers are abandoning their crops, Nevada prohibits watering about a third of the lawns in the Las Vegas area, and the governor of Utah is actually asking people to pray for rain.

This summer, firefighters faced a deteriorating situation-in the last wildfire season, there were nearly 10,000 fires in California alone, burning 1.7 million hectares, an area almost the same size as Kuwait.

Drought is a recurring natural disaster, but it has recently become worse due to the accumulation of extremely dry years for most of this century. Scientists say that human-influenced climate change has exacerbated this situation.

22 years of drought is the driest period in 115 years

The rain that swept the west at the end of 2015 (before the low water level before Lake Mead was set) was just a respite from the current 22-year drought, the driest period on record in 115 years. The US Bureau of Reclamation is responsible for the management of water resources in the western states.

Ben Cooke, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Research, said: “Some states, especially parts of California and parts of the southwest, are really very arid.”

In ten years of farming in North Dakota, Devin Jacobson has never seen such arid land. Jacobson’s 1,415 hectares near Crosby, North Carolina are dominated by durum wheat, canola, peas, and lentils. The rainfall this season is very low, exceeding two inches in late May and a quarter of an inch this week.

“A few more inches will put us in a good position, but there is no such thing in the forecast right now,” he said.

On June 7, a wildfire raged in Arizona, and smoke rose from the fire. On Wednesday, the Governor of Arizona declared a state of emergency after two fires destroyed more than 58,000 hectares and triggered an evacuation. (Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management/Reuters)

Officials across the West are formulating emergency measures. On Wednesday, after two fires destroyed more than 58,000 hectares and triggered an evacuation, the Governor of Arizona declared a state of emergency.

Michael Crimmins, a climate scientist at the University of Arizona, said that Arizona is “in a completely unique situation relative to our historical record.” “We are just looking desperately at the forecast to see when the monsoon will appear.”

Water supply may be cut off

Spokesperson Patty Allen said that the Bureau of Reclamation may declare the worst shortage of Lake Mead for the first time, which will cut off the water supply to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.

Aaron said that Arizona’s supply could be reduced by 320,000 acre-feet. According to the Arizona Department of Water Resources, this is the annual supply of nearly 1 million households.

On May 25, asparagus plants destroyed by lack of water in Firebaugh, California, were plowed by a tractor.California Governor Gavin Newsom (Gavin Newsom), facing a recall election, has issued a drought emergency announcement to 41 of the state’s 58 counties (Norma Galeana/Reuters)

California Governor Gavin Newsom (Gavin Newsom), facing a recall election, has issued a drought emergency bulletin to 41 out of 58 counties in the state, authorizing the state to better control water resources.

But so far, the measures taken by his predecessor, Jerry Brown, in 2015 have not been met, when California ordered a mandatory reduction in water consumption, affecting voters.

At present, water management mainly involves agricultural enterprises, which consume 80% of California’s water resources. Some farmers are switching to less thirsty crops or leaving the land fallow.

The Regional Water Authority, which represents a water supplier serving 2 million people in the Sacramento area, recommends that the supplier temporarily drill a few more wells. This is a short-term solution and requires customers to voluntarily reduce water consumption by 10%.

Jay Lund, a professor at the University of California, Davis and director of the Watershed Science Center, warned that some of the more dire predictions are exaggerated, saying that Californians generally comply with mandatory and voluntary reductions in water consumption, allowing the state to survive until the rain comes again. Up.

“There will be a lot of pain in this drought,” Lund said. “For some communities and some local industries, this will be catastrophic. For some fish, it will be catastrophic. But it will not be catastrophic statewide.”

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