Hoover Dam, Symbol Of West, Faces A New Test With Epic Water Shortage

"Hoover Dam has helped store Colorado River water since 1935, but reservoir levels are nearing the lowest point since Lake Mead was filled."

"BOULDER CITY, Nevada — Hoover Dam towers more than 700 feet above Black Canyon on the Arizona-Nevada state line, holding back the waters of the Colorado River. On top of the dam, where visitors peer down the graceful white arc of its face, one of its art deco-style towers is adorned with a work of art that memorializes the purposes of the dam.   

In five relief sculptures by Oskar Hansen, muscular men are shown gripping a boat’s wheel, harvesting an armful of wheat, standing beside cascading water and lifting a heavy weight overhead. With the concrete figures are words that encapsulate why the dam was built, as laid out in a 1928 law: FLOOD CONTROL, NAVIGATION, IRRIGATION, WATER STORAGE and POWER.

Eighty-six years after its completion in 1935, the infrastructure at Hoover Dam continues doing what it was designed to do: holding water and sending it coursing through intake tunnels, spinning turbines and generating electricity. But the rules for managing the river and dividing up its water — which were laid down nearly a century ago starting with the 1922 Colorado River Compact and which have repeatedly been tweaked — are now facing the greatest strains since the dam was built.

The effects of years of severe drought and temperatures pushed higher by climate change are strikingly visible along Lake Mead’s retreating shorelines near Las Vegas, where the growing “bathtub ring” of whitish minerals coats the rocky desert slopes."

Ian James reports for the Arizona Republic May. 27, 2021.


"As California’s Drought Worsens, the Biden Administration Cuts Water Supplies and Farmers Struggle to Compensate" (Inside Climate News)

"Drought Impacts New Mexico Water System" (KOAT)

"Drought-Induced Fish Die-Offs Expected At Several Utah Water Bodies" (Salt Lake Tribune)

"Mandatory Water Restrictions Likely For Santa Clara County Residents As Feds Cut Supply" (San Francisco Chronicle)

"State Orders Sweeping Water Restrictions For Towns, Vineyards Along Russian River" (San Francisco Chronicle)

Source: Arizona Republic, 05/28/2021