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Lake Mead plummets to unprecedented low

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That water crisis has been a long time in the idiocy making. The agricultural water use for some crops in California is absurd. Over a gallon of water to grow each individual almond? WTF?

Growing water-thirsty alfalfa in the Central Valley as cattle feed, or to ship overseas as camel fodder?

https://www.fas.usda.gov/newsroom/u...s-visit-camelicious-shows-us-uae-trade-action

Drilling ever deeper wells with ever larger pumps to reach an already depleted aquifer? Read this book.

https://www.amazon.com/Dreamt-Land-Chasing-Across-California-ebook/dp/B07GD4N31V

I saw the water levels, or was on upper Lake Mead, on cross country trips in ’76, ’78, ’84, ’88, ’95, and 2014. Visiting today it is difficult to appreciate from any distance that the “bathtub” ring on the towering Lake Mead cliffs is 170 feet tall.

https://www.google.com/search?q=lak...oJjQIHf2nCh0Q9QF6BAgiEAE#imgrc=we-4WB47auMMbM

20 years of falling pool levels? That might have been a hint of things to come.

https://arachnoid.com/NaturalResources/

The last time I was at the Pierce (Pearce?) Ferry “launch” the Colorado River course was a shrunken trickle a mile or more out, across a cracked creviced mudflat away from the launch. Same for Lake Powell; 177 feet below full pool.

http://powell.uslakes.info/Level/

20 years of falling water levels, amidst the longest western drought in 1200 years; we have done screwed the pooch. Again.

But I got almonds, and my camels have never had it so good.
 
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Things like this make it hard to understand how someone can deny climate change.
I'm certainly no climate change denier but I think it's hard to point at things like this as proof that it exists. Mike will know the history much better than I but I seem to recall that the data accumulated before building the dams, which indicated it should be sustainable, was incomplete. Mostly because we just didn't have records going back far enough. And not only that but the data we did have turned out to be from a relatively wet period of time (which we weren't aware of due to lack of data). So once the dams were built and things went back to "normal" bad things started to happen.

Alan
 
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Mike will know the history much better than I but I seem to recall that the data accumulated before building the dams, which indicated it should be sustainable, was incomplete.
Cadillac Desert (1986) does a good job of exploring how western water policy was shaped. It wasn't so much that the data were incomplete as they were ignored in the quest to develop the west.

 
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Much of the issue, with regards to the Colorado, has to do with different States water rights, some a century or more old, long before Phoenix or Las Vegas were home to millions of people and long before California’s central valley was the nations fruit and nut basket.

The waters of the Colorado are 125% subscribed. It is impossible to take more than 100% of anything, hence the Colorado doesn’t much flow into the Sea of Cortez.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/...River no longer,section of the Colorado River.
 
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The climate is in a constant state of change. The study of the Earth (geology) is ultimately the study of climate change through time. Florida was deposited in a marine environment. It’s been partially inundated before. It will be again. All of this is true regardless of our use of fossil fuels and all the other buzzwords. Nothing can stop it. Did we cause it?

No.

Did we exacerbate it?

Maybe.

Can we prove it?

Probably not really.

Science is a process. We make observations, ask questions, and seek to answer them best we can. We peer review. Our results must be repeatable to be considered trustworthy. The talking heads either forgot that, never knew that, or deliberately ignore it. They use whatever numbers they want to make their point or secure their pound of flesh. As long as we the people allow bad policy to persist to reward the few at the expense of the rest, we will continue to watch our resources dwindle. I personally find myself in an ugly place politically, and there I’ll stop.
 
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From Dendrochronolgy dating the drought that collapsed Anasazi culture occurred in the twelve hundreds. I don’t think they were burning a lot of coal, or commuting in V8 SUV’s at the time.

Has industrial age climate change had an impact? Even without cyclical western droughts the other evidence, rising temperatures and reduced snowpack worldwde, sea level rise, the melting of ancient glaciers, melting sea ice and calving of ancient ice shelves points to yes.
 
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Thanks Mike. I'd just add the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is one more quantitative sign if human caused climate change.
 
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Understand this: That much water, Mead and Powell, in the middle of the desert is not natural.
If those two lakes were formed by nature and were now drying up, then maybe one could assume the climate was changing. But Lake Mead and also Lake Powell are nothing more than man made water holding tanks. They exist to provide water for down stream users. If they are low, it is because water was regulated out of the reservoir at the dam. Water is collected , in the spring from snow runoff from the western slope of the Rockies, mostly. More water is pouring into Lake Powell right now, than is being released at the dam. The lake is rising, right now, today. Some people see the pictures of a desert reservoir that is dangerously low and many exclaim, "Oh dear, what will we do? There is a drought, there is no more water!" And the conclusion is that maybe, even probably, that climate change has caused a water shortage catastrophe. That is just not the case. Those lakes are low because the water has been requested by down stream entities that have a legal right to it. People, corporations and state and federal agencies have been fighting over that water for a long time. And now there are claims on about 125% of it. So yes it is going to be low.
The climate: Rainfall average for the whole United States is 38 inches of precipitation per year. The state of Colorado, where most of the river water comes from is less than half the national average at 17 to 18 inches per year. There are only half a dozen states drier than Colorado. No one knows how much rain or snow the Colorado River Basin will get in a year. Certainly some years are wetter than others. Predictions are for a strong El Nino and more rain this year than last.
Las Vegas has an annual rainfall of just 4.5 inches. So the climate is very dry. It is a desert, there is not going to be any filling of a lake the size of Lake Mead, aside from the Colorado with area average rainfall of 4.5 inches. It's just not going to happen. Has zero to do with climate change. It a engineering marvel that that much water storage was created in the first place.
Also the news media people didn't show pictures of the two Colorado River lakes below Lake Mead, and I'll bet it is because both Lake Havasu and Lake Mohave are standing at a whopping 93% full, right now. That's right, 93% of total capacity, both lakes.
Jump down to Phoenix, we are in the desert and our average total rainfall is only 9 inches. Yet we also have storage reservoirs and the current levels are: Roosevelt Lake 73% full, Apache Lake 93% full, Canyon Lake 95% full, Saguaro Lake 94% full.
My point is this, a picture of a low man made reservoir in the middle of a desert, with everyone downstream wanting the water, is not proof of anything except water greed and mismanagement.
 
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So the 20 year drought in the Colorado River basin unlike any recorded previously has nothing to do with the low levels?
 
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Also the news media people didn't show pictures of the two Colorado River lakes below Lake Mead, and I'll bet it is because both Lake Havasu and Lake Mohave are standing at a whopping 93% full, right now

Also understand

Lake Havasu capacity – 619,400 acre feet

Lake Mohave capacity – 1.81 million acre feet

Lake Powell capacity – 25.16 million acre feet

Lake Mead – 28.23 million acre feet

It only cost me $4 to fill my gas tank yesterday. On my minibike.
 
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I am simply remembering back in 1967 when my father and I hiked to the Rainbow Bridge which was going to be flooded by Lake Powell. He said I would never see that formation again. He would be pleased to know that he was wrong.
 
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To me as a non-expert (of the highest level).....

It's not that there is not enough water, the situation is that there is not enough POTABLE water and what potable water there is (plenty) is not where "we" want it to be.

In days gone humans lived in places that had the resources to support them. These days, partially as an effect of population growth and partially because "we" now live were it "looks good" or "feels good" with an attitude of whatever we don't have at hand we can just bring in from elsewhere.

One thing for sure, this Spring there is PLENTY of water in Eastern Canada (and it's not for sale!)
 
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