Alarming Drop In Lake Mead And Colorado River Water In Drought Plagued West

July 3, 2014, by Ken Jorgustin

lake-mead-water-level-drop
image: CBS

Everything involved with our continued existence depends upon water.

Much of the west is arid and would not support the population and agriculture that it does today without the technology to do so — until now…


 
The Colorado River, which feeds Lake Mead, is drying up — so the lake is rapidly shrinking. Islands are growing, and boats are floating far from where they once were.

Formed by the Hoover Dam (1935) along the Colorado River, Lake Mead is the 16th largest manmade lake in the world and one of the largest manmade lakes in the Western Hemisphere.

The lake provides water for 20 million people in southern Nevada, southern California and Arizona. The problem is, since 2000, the lake has lost 4 trillion gallons of water.

Ninety percent of Las Vegas water comes from the lake. Soon, one of the city’s two intake pipes could be above water, so they have hastily begun a massive drilling project (nearly $1 Billion) creating a three-mile-long tunnel, one inch per minute, deeper into the lake.

The population of Las Vegas in 1935 was about 8,400 while the current metropolitan area is nearly 2 million.

The current drought in the west, which began 14 years ago, is evidenced by Satellite photos which show the Colorado River drying up. The evidence is also very stark to any visitor of Lake Meade who will now witness a giant ‘ring’ around the lake showing the drop in water level.

During my traveling days, I have visited this lake and Hoover Dam several times, and I must say that in just a number of years time, it is startling to see photos showing the water drop – especially when contemplating the millions of people who depend upon it – many of them oblivious to the potentially catastrophic effect this will have on their lives if this continues.

It’s not just the drought. Lake Mead water level would likely be dropping even without the drought. As communities grow, many upstream are drawing more water from the Colorado River as the drought just makes it drop faster.

The biggest problem the west has is too little water for too many people. The current drought in the west is magnifying this fact. I have read suggestions that this could be the start of a decades or even centuries long drought and there is evidence this would not be the first of it’s kind.

A tremendous issue is that California grows most of the nations food, and if the water dries up, so does much of our food supply.

The population of California in the 1930’s was a bit more than 5 million. Today, there are more than 37 million.

If you are one of those who live in the desert west who may be affected by severe water shortages in the future, perhaps it’s time to examine your self-reliance. The problem is that most people have normalcy bias (e.g. because they’ve always had water — they always will have water).

We’re running low on some of our resources (in this case, water) to sustain the number of people who are living in (unnatural) places where there is complete reliance upon technology and external systems to keep them alive. The systemic risk is very high.