The US Bureau of Reclamation finished the Glen Canyon Dam in 1966. The dam formed Lake Powell, one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the United States. More importantly, the dam supplies electricity to seven states. Millions of Americans count on the dam for their daily essentials. However, a drought that is plaguing the region threatens to end the dam’s decades-long run as a power supply.
The Glen Canyon Dam is located in Arizona and powers that state as well as Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. The Colorado River feeds the reservoir and fuels the hydroelectric station on the dam. However, a continued drought is currently plaguing the Western United States. That drought put the Colorado River at a record low. As a result, about 5.8 million homes and businesses are at risk of losing their power, according to the Daily Mail.
The USBR estimates that the Glen Canyon Dam has a 3% chance of drying up in 2022 if things don’t change. However, that percentage climbs drastically with each passing year. By 2023, the dam has a 34% chance of drying up. Most alarmingly, the dam stands a 66% chance of drying up by 2025.
USBR’s Upper Colorado Basin Regional Director, Wayne Pullan, spoke about the bureau’s most recent projections. “The latest outlook for Lake Powell is troubling. This highlights the importance of continuing work collaboratively with the Basin States, tribes, and other partners toward solutions.”
Lake Powell, the lake created by the Glen Canyon Dam, recorded its lowest water levels in its fifty years of existence in July. The lake, which sits on the Utah-Nevada border was only at 33% capacity. Things aren’t getting better.
This video from CBSN shows just how low the water in the area is. The white “bathtub ring” on the banks shows a massive dip in the water level.
The Drought Plaguing the Glen Canyon Dam, America’s West
According to Daily Mail, researchers say that the megadrought that threatens to dry up the Glen Canyon Dam could be the worst in over 1,200 years. The current drought has been going on for about 20 years. However, things have worsened in the past two years.
Fluctuating water levels are nothing new to the Glen Canyon Dam, the Colorado River, and Lake Powell. However, experts say they couldn’t have predicted how bad it would get. The recent drop in water levels in the area is nothing short of alarming to experts.
The Colorado River powers the Glen Canyon Dam and fills both Lake Powell and Lake Mead. Both of those lakes provide water to millions of people and farms in the West. As a result, the continued drought could cause not only a loss of power to the area but also a severe lack of water.