Lake Mead water levels expected to reach record low within weeks

Despite recent water levels exceeding expectations, Lake Mead is expected to drop back to record levels by the end of the month.

On Monday, Lake Mead’s water level was 1,045.91 feet above sea level, nearly 3 feet above the level of 1,043.06 feet predicted in the ‘Most Probable’ study. 24-Month Study” by the US Bureau of Reclamation, published in early March.

However, based on projections for April, lake water levels are expected to drop to around 1,036 feet above sea level by the end of April. This would break the previous record for the lake’s lowest water level of 1,040.71 feet above sea level, which occurred in late July 2022.

Lake Mead Hoover Dam Levels
A file photo of Lake Mead and part of the Hoover Dam. Lake Mead, despite higher than expected water levels this week, is expected to reach record lows by the end of April.
iStock/Getty Images Plus

Lake Mead is a reservoir of the Colorado River, formed by the Hoover Dam. Built in the 1930s, it is the largest reservoir in the United States by volume. Located on the Nevada-Arizona border, Lake Mead provides essential water for drinking and agriculture to approximately 25 million people in the Southwestern United States.

Lake Mead has seen a drop in water levels with each passing year, due to the effects of the mega-drought plaguing the southwestern states.

“The prolonged drought and over-allocation have significantly reduced the amount of water in the Colorado River and the water stored in Lake Mead and Lake Powell,” said Andrea Achilli, associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the University. of Arizona. already said Newsweek. “They are the largest reservoirs in the United States and are critical to managing the Colorado River Basin. We are experiencing the driest conditions in the past 1,200 years.”

The recent flurry of rainfall across California and neighboring states has already had a huge impact on many important reservoirs, with snowpacks in the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains expected to provide more crucial water in the form of snowmelt to the spring is approaching. The Colorado River, and therefore Lake Mead, is fed by meltwater from the Rocky Mountains.

However, despite the snowpack, much more water is needed to fill Lake Mead and neighboring Lake Powell, which has the same problems.

Tom Corringham, research economist at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, previously said NewsweekStatewide snowpack in Colorado is about 120% of normal this year, which is good, but filling Lake Mead and Lake Powell will take years of snowfall above average. We certainly hope for a series of good years, but the long-term outlook is not good. Based on climate models, researchers have been predicting this disaster for decades. The scary thing is that everything is happening faster than expected.

In fact, a Bureau of Reclamation study released in January predicted that Lake Mead water levels could reach unprecedented levels in 2023, dropping as low as 1,024.47 feet in November.

While this would be a major water supply issue, it could also impact the power grid, as 1.3 million nearby people rely on hydroelectric power generation from the Hoover Dam. If the lake drops below the level where water can flow through the dam and spin hydroelectric turbines, a point known as a dead basin, the dam can no longer generate hydroelectricity. Levels in the Lake Mead Dead Pool are 895 feet above sea level, but power generation may cease at 950 feet, according to the National Park Service.

Lake Mead water levels are predicted to drop to 992ft by the end of July 2024, with experts predicting the dead pool could be reached within the next few years.

Do you have any advice on a science story Newsweek should cover? Have a question about Lake Mead? Let us know via science@newsweek.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *