The Colorado River Joins the Environmental Battle

This week’s blog was written by Paloma M., a Brookies alumni. Paloma is a reporter who specializes in environmental and climate studies. She loves informing those around her about the latest news about our planet, with an emphasis on politics and media. She attended Wildlife Leadership Academy to get out into the world and learn more about the environment she was reporting on.

The Colorado River is one of the most well known rivers. Supplying water to seven different states, it’s crucial to keep it safe and protected. However, recently, this has been changing. The Lake is starting to dry up, and experts have never been more concerned.

This is most clearly seen in Lake Powell, one of if not the most important lake connection to the Colorado River. The lake is at an all time low, something that has never been seen. If the lake dries up, thousands of Americans will be without tap and drinking water. Usually, water levels in Lake Powell will follow snowpack levels, or the amount of snow that will melt and then feed into the river. However, for the past twenty years, the lake has broken this rule, and the water level has consistently fallen, even though 2018 was an above-average snowpack year. This water level issue is caused by one big problem: long-term drought. We can try to artificially regulate the lake level as much as we may want, but nothing will stop the effects of climate change in the Midwest, which has been experiencing excessive drought for nearly a decade now.

Lake Powell during the summer

The other issue the lake has is excessive use from the seven states that it’s connected to. The states had agreed on water levels that each was allowed to take out a year. Demands were largely not met in terms of use of the river mainly because Arizona, Nevada and a few other states weren’t using the whole amount allocated to them. However, some states like California were also over using their allotment. This went unnoticed since it usually balanced itself out, but in 1994 Arizona started using its full allotment, causing the river to have a net loss for several years.

How are we supposed to tackle this? Well, the solution seems big, but is doable if everyone contributes their share. We must continue to tackle climate change, lowering its effects and hopefully stopping the long-term drought. The other part that needs to be done is to make a drought prevention plan, which all of the states are already sorting out, luckily. In the end, Lake Powell and the Colorado River at large joins another one of the environmental disasters directly caused by climate change and its effects. It’s another way that the American public is being influenced by global warming, and it’s one more thing to add to why the environmental catastrophe should be a top priority for everyone worldwide.

The photo used in this blog was sourced from the internet. It can be found here.