Power generation at Lake Powell on its deathbed with drought

2 weeks ago 9
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Officials in Colorado warned that the Lake Powell hydropower generators may be closed due to water scarcity. The lake, which depends on the Colorado River Basin, has been experiencing a drop in water levels thanks to the ongoing prolonged drought. To mitigate the situation, the Flaming Gorge reservoir on the Green River has been releasing huge amounts of water to the lake to sustain the required water levels for electricity production.

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The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials told reporters that, the Flaming Gorge reservoir may only have enough water left for two similar emergency situations. In other words, if two droughts of the current magnitude are to be witnessed, there would be no alternative but to shut down power generation at Lake Powell.

Related: Lake Powell hits historic low, endangering hydropower supply

Federal officials had to take emergency steps back in May to boost Lake Powell’s water. By using upstream reservoirs, officials say that they are just buying local communities time to plan for the future. The locals who live near lake Powell entirely rely on it for energy. The lake generates enough power for over 5.8 million homes and businesses in seven states.

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If its water levels were to drop to below 3,490 feet above sea level, it will not be able to generate power. As of last Thursday, the lake was at 24% full with the water levels at 3,529 feet. Water managers have tried several options to retain the water levels in the lake, but things seem to be getting out of hand.

“What this [process] is doing is just buffering us for a year, and we probably have an opportunity to do that maybe two more times, and then there will be no more capacity. So something else will have to fill that 500,000 acre-feet, some other mechanism,” said Jim Prairie,  the agency’s Upper Colorado Basin research and modeling group chief.

With the situation, most people are expected to start taking matters into their hands. It is viewed that the adoption of renewable sources of energy such as solar could help to some extent. However, the federal government will have to step in and provide a reliable solution. 

Via CNN

Lead image via Pexels

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