Lake Mead-size water losses across Colorado River Basin, UCLA study says

Lake Mead-size water losses across Colorado River Basin, UCLA study says
Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 11:51 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - A new study by UCLA researchers says climate change is responsible for water losses across the Colorado River Basin, equal to the size of Lake Mead.

Researchers announced their findings from 2000 to 2021, stating that the system lost 10 trillion gallons throughout the Colorado River—roughly the size of the capacity of Lake Mead.

The study described how the rise in temperatures across the region has led to water losses.

“The fact that warming removed as much water from the basin as the size of Lake Mead itself during the recent megadrought is a wakeup call to the climate change impacts we are living today,” said study leader Benjamin Bass in a press release announcement for the study, which appeared in the journal Water Resources Research.

The system provides water for 40 million people across seven states.

Though Southern Nevada has seen recent rises in lake levels, its still far below previous levels. In 1983, Lake Mead rose to 1,225 feet. This week, it rose to 1,060 feet. In 2022, the lake dropped to the lowest levels ever at 1,044 feet.

“We have been flirting with a danger zone on Lake Mead and Lake Powell in the last few years, where we could see a situation in which one of the reservoirs would go into dead pool, which would be catastrophic,” said Sarah Porter of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU, to our sister station AZ Family back in May.

In May, Arizona, Nevada and California agreed to significant cuts through 2026. The feds must approve the agreement, and are expected to do so in mid-August.