Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
The West is currently in the middle of a severe drought, and Lake Powell, the region’s second-largest reservoir, is at its lowest level in decades. The lake, located on the Colorado River, is effectively a human-made storage basin that keeps the regional water supply in balance under the 100-year-old Colorado River Compact. It’s where water is released to the compact’s lower states (Arizona, California and Nevada) from upper states (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming). That balance is off, and officials just “pulled the emergency lever:” they released water from reservoirs upstream in order to keep drinking water and hydropower flowing.
Why This Matters: Water levels this low are a threat to both water supplies for 40 million people as well as the ability to generate power. Years of overuse colliding with the climate change-fueled drought could blow up the seven-state water-sharing deal. “If the water levels fall below 3,525 feet in Lake Powell and the agreement falls apart, it could “potentially lead to seven-state litigation, which we’ve never seen before on [the] Colorado River,” Amy Ostdiek, deputy section chief of the federal, interstate and water information section of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, told Colorado Public Radio. “Which would create a lot of uncertainty. It would probably be a very long, drawn out process.”
Troubled Waters: Lake Powell isn’t the only reservoir in trouble. Lake Mead, the largest reservoir that also pulls from the Colorado River, also hit a record low this summer. A new coalition is calling for a stop to plans that would take more water from the river, including proposed dams and pipelines across the river basin.
“We’ve got farmers. We’ve got enviros. We’ve got businesses. We’re the type of coalition that they say can’t be put together. But we’re here to say, damn the status quo. No more business as usual,” Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, said at a recent news conference. “Why? Because we’re failing. It’s plain and simple.”
The U.S. Air Force has finally learned enough information to begin cleaning up a jet fuel leak from Albuquerque’s drinking water supply. The Kirtland Air Force Base plans to write and submit a report to the New Mexico Environmental Department before the agency can approve and make recommendations for cleanup. This comes as a relief […]
by Jessica Grannis We’re in the dog days of summer now, and lots of folks are headed to the beach to make up for lost time since the pandemic began. My favorite part of traveling to the coast from DC is watching my surroundings slowly turn from urban areas to the forests of the coastal […]
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Ongoing heatwaves and mega-drought across the Western U.S. threatened residents with rolling blackouts and even buckling roads. Now, rapidly rising temperatures are taking their toll on renewable energy infrastructure as well. After suffering some of the lowest rainfall rates in 126 years, Northern California’s Edward Hyatt hydroelectric power plant is predicted to shut down for […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.