An existential natural disaster is rolling towards the USA. Scientists assume that the US government will soon have to take drastic measures to ensure the livelihood of 40 million people: the largest reservoir in the USA is at an all-time low. Six states are affected. The state of California alone suffers this year from the worst drought in 127 years.
Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States of America, has hit a record low. The full water level has not been measured for 21 years. But now the body of water only fills 37 percent of its capacity. Reflow is not expected again until November.
However, the water flows from Lake Mead into the Colorado River, where it is urgently needed to supply more southern areas of the continent with water. 40 million people are threatened by water scarcity as a result of this drought. The problem extends from Nevada to the northwesternmost tip of Mexico.
The affected regions in the US have been used to drought for 20 years. In the past few years, out of necessity, Las Vegas has become a model city for water management. But the water from Lake Mead is also urgently needed for agriculture in southern California and Mexico.
Scientists speak of a “mega-drought” caused by climate change. “We’re at a turning point,” said Pat Mulroy, former Nevada water director. What is happening now is “existential for Arizona, California and Nevada”.
Lake Mead is at just 37% of its capacity. https://t.co/dcenFYVNKT
— American Rivers (@americanrivers) June 10, 2021
Benjamin Cook, scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, explained the causes to the “Bild” newspaper: The snowmelt that normally feeds the northern part of the Colorado River and thus Lake Mead was comparatively low this year. In addition, the soils are so dried out that large parts of the meltwater immediately seeped into the ground instead of filling the water.
US media reports that the US government under Joe Biden has been forced to make an historic decision. Presumably, the government will officially declare a drought on the lower Colorado River and force water-saving measures. By next year at the latest, the affected residents and farmers will have to reckon with greatly reduced water capacities, which will hit the agricultural sector hard. In 2023, parts of Arizona will be drawing almost no water from Lake Mead. The farmers are forced to dig deeper and deeper wells to tap the groundwater. But the groundwater level is also falling year after year.