Deadpool: US Mega Drought Spells Trouble At Hoover Dam
Lake Mead, United States, July 5 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 5th Jul, 2022 ) :Millions of gallons of Colorado River water hurtle through the Hoover Dam every day, generating electricity for hundreds of thousands of homes.
"We are 23rd year of drought here in the Colorado River Basin and Lake Mead has dropped down to 28 percent," explains Patti Aaron of the US Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the dam. She was referring to the vast lake created by the building of the dam.
"There isn't as much head so there isn't as much pressure pushing the water into the turbines, so there's less efficiency and we aren't able to produce as much power." Hoover Dam was a feat of American hope and engineering.
Construction began in 1931 as the country was withering under the Great Depression.
Thousands of workers toiled 24 hours a day to build what was then the largest hydroelectricity facility in the world.
At its height, the lake surface sits over 1,200 feet (365 meters) above sea level. But after more than two decades of drought it is now less than 1,050 feet -- the lowest since the lake was filled, and falling about a foot a week.
"We're working very hard for that not to happen," said Aaron. "It's just not an option to not produce power or not deliver water." The Colorado River rises in the Rocky Mountains and snakes its way through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California and northern Mexico, where it empties into the Gulf of California.
It is fed chiefly by the huge snowpack that gets dumped at high altitudes, melting slowly throughout the warmer months.
They point to the drought-tolerant landscapes they have installed instead of lawns, and the high percentage of indoor water that is recycled in desert towns.
"But you've got farmers in California growing almonds for export," said Kameron Wells, who lives in nearby Henderson, Nevada.
Householders in southern California have grumbled about the fate of their luscious lawns since being ordered to limit their outdoor watering to one or two days a week at the start of the summer.
And from the air, the vibrant green of dozens of golf courses mark an otherwise dust bowl landscape.
Climatologist Steph McAfee of the University of Nevada, Reno, says the US west has always been something of an improbability.
"The average precipitation in Las Vegas is something like four inches (10 centimeters) a year," she told AFP.
"And to make it possible to have cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix and Los Angeles we rely on water that falls in the mountains as snow in parts of the West that are obviously much, much wetter." The last two decades of drought are not, McAfee says, actually that unusual in climatic terms, according to tree ring reconstructions.
But "what's going on now is that we're having a drought, and temperatures are much warmer and when temperatures are high, things dry out faster.
"That is a consequence of climate change... driven by human greenhouse gas emissions." On Lake Mead, boat seller Jason Davis manoeuvers his craft towards Hoover Dam, where thousands of tonnes of concrete loom over the water in graceful modernist lines, and a ring of mineral deposits shows where the water level used to be.
For him, the lake is not just a battery for the huge generators in the dam, but a waterscape whose beauty and peacefulness are worth protecting.
"You know, people who haven't been here don't appreciate it," he says as a sunset rages in the desert sky above.