The drying of the Colorado R. basin

https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2022-06-20/as-colo…
Lake Powell, on the Utah-Arizona border, is forecast to decline more than 30 feet by March, putting the water level about 16 feet from the point at which Glen Canyon Dam would no longer generate electricity. Last year, the dam generated enough electricity to fully supply the energy needs of more than 300,000 average homes, with power flowing onto the grid to supply states from Nevada to Colorado.

The surface of Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, now stands at 1,045 feet above sea level. It’s forecast to drop more than 26 feet by July 2023. If Lake Mead were to keep dropping, the level would eventually approach a danger zone at 895 feet, below which water would no longer pass through Hoover Dam to supply California, Arizona and Mexico — a level known as “dead pool.”

Quotes from elsewhere in the article:

... if Lake Powell were to drop below its minimum level for producing power, the dam’s facilities would face “unprecedented operational reliability challenges.”

... officials aren’t sure how the dam’s infrastructure would fare at those levels.

... operating at this low lake level increases risks to water delivery” and infrastructure, issues that “raise profound concerns regarding prudent dam operations, facility reliability, public health and safety.”

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Lake Powell should not exist, nor should the dam have been built, as even before GCC the liklihood of a coming large scale long time cycle drought was known, and the insane waste of water to evaporatio was known. Glenn Canyon was one of the glories of mankind and it incidentally was drowned.

Leave the concrete lump in place, remove the moveable equipment, and let the river flow freely low in the canyon. Only Hoover Dam is worth keeping.

david fb

(Tim, what is hard for you and many east coast folk to understand is that the Colorado River has small flow compared to most east coast rivers, and is dwarfed by, say, the St Laurence and the Hudson. Hydro power is great, but in the dry West the cost benefit ratio is waaay off).

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Leave the concrete lump in place, remove the moveable equipment, and let the river flow freely low in the canyon. Only Hoover Dam is worth keeping.

I have heard some proposals to do that, drain Powell, to concentrate the water in Mead, to keep Hoover humming.

Steve

(Tim, what is hard for you and many east coast folk to understand is that the Colorado River has small flow compared to most east coast rivers, and is dwarfed by, say, the St Laurence and the Hudson. Hydro power is great, but in the dry West the cost benefit ratio is waaay off).

I’ve actually driven across Hoover Dam several times in my travels (often for a week of frolic in Vegas from our base in Oakland.).

Washington is the leading hydroelectricity producing state in the nation. Most of Washington’s hydroelectric power is generated from eight of the state’s ten largest power plants on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, natural resources that have enabled the state to keep electricity prices among the lowest in the nation.

I should add that BC is a major producer of Hydro power.

Not all of our Hydro comes from Quebec.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/691961/canada-hydropower…

https://www.sitecproject.com/about-site-c/project-overview

https://energyrates.ca/the-main-electricity-sources-in-canad…

Which province is Canada’s largest producer of hydroelectricity?
When you take a look at the electricity generation province per province, you notice the importance of hydroelectricity to many Canadian regions. According to NRCan, at least four provinces get the majority of their electricity supply from hydroelectricity. Manitoba is the No. 1 hydro generator, with a 97 percentage, while Alberta only uses 2.8 percent to generate electricity.

Manitoba: 97.0%
Quebec: 95.3%
Newfoundland and Labrador: 94.3%
Yukon: 93.7%
British Columbia: 89.4%
Northwest Territories: 37.4%
Ontario: 22.3%
New Brunswick: 21.5%
Saskatchewan: 13.3%
Nova Scotia: 8.7%
Alberta: 2.8%

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All our major hydroelectric dams have long term issues, made worse by low water flows: Silting. Without the flow to push it through it just keeps building… Pipelines, canals from Norther wetter areas might help, but costs in many ways would be pretty high… If they could be incorporated into our National highway or railroad systems, maybe even covered by solar to help with pumping needs, maybe feasible, but not for golf courses, lawns, but industrial, agricultural needs, sure…

I don’t see any visionaries out there, however…

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Lake Powell should not exist

In 1980 I took a college course at Ft Lewis College in Durango based on Nader’s Public Interest Research Group.

I chose to look into dam projects in that area as there were several in the planning stages.

I interviewed the Bureau of Reclamation supervisor in the Durango area office and he surprised me by telling me straight out that “the useful dams have been built and the proposals we see now can not be justified on a cost/benefit measurement”.

The dams in question were McPhee dam on the Dolores, the Animas La Plata project on the Animas and a dam on the San Miguel.

The McPhee dam and the Animas dam were built. The McPhee reservoir is at extremely low levels. The Animas actually PUMPS WATER UP OUT of the river canyon to a reservoir on the plateau above. Pork barrel projects.

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All our major hydroelectric dams have long term issues, made worse by low water flows: Silting. Without the flow to push it through it just keeps building… Pipelines, canals from Norther wetter areas might help, but costs in many ways would be pretty high… If they could be incorporated into our National highway or railroad systems, maybe even covered by solar to help with pumping needs, maybe feasible, but not for golf courses, lawns, but industrial, agricultural needs, sure…

I don’t see any visionaries out there, however…

We actually had this discussion several years ago. I don’t know if you have ever seen the old Roman aqueducts in action but they all go downhill and the longest one ever built was just over 100 miles. All use gravity to transport water to where it is needed. Water is very heavy to carry (I once carried two Jerry cans of water up a steep 800 meter hill). While Northern areas may be up on the map, that doesn’t mean it will be flowing downhill on the way to California and other drought stricken places?

Pumping water great distance is very energy intensive. Perhaps a good job for out of work nuclear plants?

Tim

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The rewards for “health and wellness” and living long are going to be just lovely paradise.

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While Northern areas may be up on the map, that doesn’t mean it will be flowing downhill on the way to California and other drought stricken places?

Yes, there’s left-right up-down, and then there’s “UP” as in “towards the ceiling.”

Unfortunately, the entire western half of the US is UP, and is higher than the eastern half.
https://www.amazon.com/United-Topographic-Raven-Maps-Laminat…
(Brown is higher)

Worse, it’s called the Mississippi River Basin for a reason, because the continent slopes downwards to the Mississippi from the Rockies on one side and the Appalachians on the other. There’s plenty of water in the Eastern half of the US, not as much in the Western half. And it’s 1,000 miles uphill from the Mississippi/Great Lakes to get to the Rockies, and it would take unimaginable amounts of power to pump water up and over, even using the best technologies we have today, including the siphons that were known in Roman times.

No, I’m afraid the West is screwed. The map is brown, perhaps an omen that front lawns and “farming the desert” were not really meant to be in that part of the country?

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The USGS has cool interactive maps. I like the Streamer app, click on a point and see the upstream watershed.
https://www.americangeosciences.org/critical-issues/maps/int…

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In 1980 I took a college course at Ft Lewis College in Durango

That’s interesting. I was at Ft. Lewis from 1981 to 1984

V

Unfortunately, the entire western half of the US is UP, and is higher than the eastern half.

The USBR had a plan to pump Mississippi river water to west texas. The plan require several (SEVERAL!) nuclear power plants along the way to pump the water. The ‘plan’, was abandoned, for now.