Lake Mead Low Water Levels: Overuse, Not Climate Change

From Dr. Roy Spencer’s Global Warming Blog

August 24th, 2022 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

UPDATED: Fixed Bureau of Reclamation study link, added Colorado River basin snowpack graph and discussion.

In today’s news is yet another article claiming the record-low water levels in Lake Mead (a manmade water reservoir) are due to human-caused climate change. In fact, to make the problem even more sinister, the Mafia is also part of the story:

Climate change is uncovering gruesome mafia secrets in this Las Vegas lake

While it is true that recent years have seen somewhat less water available from the Colorado River basin watershed (which supplies 97% of Lake Mead’s water), this is after years of above-average water inflow from mountain snowpack. Those decadal time-scale changes are mostly the result of stronger El Nino years (more mountain snows) giving way to stronger La Nina years (less snow).

The result is record-low water levels:

Lake Mead water levels since the construction of Hoover Dam (source: NBC News)

But the real problem isn’t natural water availability. It’s water use.

The following graph shows the fundamental problem (click for full resolution). Since approximately 2000, water use by 25 million people (who like to live in a semi-desert area where the sun shines almost every day) has increased to the point that more water is now being taken out of the Lake Mead reservoir than nature can re-supply it.

This figure is from a detailed study by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. As long as that blue line (water supply) stayed above the red line (water use), there was more than enough water to please everyone.

But now, excessive demand for water means Lake Mead water levels will probably continue to decline unless water use is restricted in some way. The study’s projection for the future in the above figure, which includes climate model projections, shows little future change in water supply compared to natural variability over the last century.

The real problem is that too much water is being taken out of the reservoir.

As long as the red line stays above the blue line, Lake Mead water levels will continue to fall.

But to blame this on climate change, whether natural or anthropogenic, ignores the thirsty elephant in the room.

UPDATE: Since it was pointed out in comments (below) that the latest Bureau of Reclamation study is rather dated (2012), and supposedly the drought has worsened since then, here’s a plot of the Colorado River basin April (peak month) snowpack, which provides about 50% of the water to Lake Mead. The rest is provided in the non-mountainous areas of the river basin, which should be highly correlated with the mountainous regions. I see no evidence for reduced snowpack due to “climate change”… maybe the recent drought conditions are where the demand by 25 million water consumers originates from, causing higher demand?

d

April snowpack in the Colorado River basin, the greatest source of water input to Lake Mead (data from https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/WCIS/AWS_PLOTS/basinCharts/POR/WTEQ/assocHUCco_8/colorado_headwaters.html

5 28 votes
Article Rating
98 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
fretslider
August 27, 2022 2:47 am

Not Climate Change

Ah, but these days everything is due to climate change; one way or another. On the BBC R4 Today programme this morning Mishal Hussein informed us that we’re getting more extreme weather because of climate change.

Thus a few hot days are now a >30 year trend

Bil
Reply to  fretslider
August 27, 2022 3:19 am

It’s strange. Weave had a few hot days this summer and they say it’s a climate emergency. From my perspective April, May, June and August have all been much cooler than usual. I was wearing a woolly hat and glove over in the Welsh hills end of June and had a sweater on walking in the Shropshire hills this morning. Personal and selective I know, but it’s my truth.

Scissor
Reply to  Bil
August 27, 2022 5:22 am

In this Colorado “drought” year, my AC and water usage are actually down. Typically, the vegetation is brown by now, but it’s actually been greening up through late summer. In Boulder, average annual rainfall has already been reached.

I like this drought because my rain barrels have been surprisingly full throughout. Mosquitoes have been worse, but that’s expected in a drought with all the standing water.

Scissor
Reply to  Scissor
August 27, 2022 5:53 am

I was looking at the wrong table re: Boulder average rainfall. Still searching.

Steve Keohane
Reply to  Scissor
August 27, 2022 6:01 am

I live at 6600′ on the west side of the divide, and record daily precip. amounts.
I was surprised to hear about the ‘drought’ as I had 120% of avg. water for last water year and this year is ahead of last year. But then they talk about reintroducing wolves and lynx to Colorado, and I’ve already seen them in the last twenty years. Too many desk-jockies pretending concern for nature.

Doug
Reply to  Steve Keohane
August 27, 2022 7:50 am

Wolves are notorious for their high consumption of water…you may have hit on something here.

Scissor
Reply to  Doug
August 27, 2022 8:10 am

Perhaps the missing lynx.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Scissor
August 27, 2022 8:30 am

Scissor, you always make me smile. We don’t live all that far apart and should meet for a coffee or brew sometime.
Kilty

Scissor
Reply to  Kevin kilty
August 27, 2022 11:29 am

Unfortunately, my income depends on some anonymity. Where I work now I have to grin and bear it, a lot.

Ruleo
Reply to  Scissor
August 28, 2022 12:28 pm

Bruh…

Reply to  Scissor
August 27, 2022 9:31 am

Scissor: Ditto here in northern Utah. Greener this year! Utah, and its steadily growing population needs to focus on pollution from lakebed dust.

Fretslider: Agree! It’s not climate change. It’s the need for more water due to growing population here in the west. I saw a video last week about how Israel solved their water issue. They pump in sea water, desalinate, store, and use. Net water surplus is their result.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  fretslider
August 27, 2022 3:19 am

I keep being told that my memory of the summer of ’76 is incorrect, and it’s hotter this year. In fact, all of us old fogeys who lived through the 70s are misremembering, and that’s why “the science” had to be used to show us that we are wrong and it’s hotter now.

This is despite the vast majority of this English summer being barely above 20C, and only 3 days of ‘hot’ weather were experienced. Obviously my memory of several weeks of very hot weather, and my friends and I frolicking in the hot countryside and whatever swimming pools we could use for most of that summer. We obviously have ‘false memories’.

It’s a bit like those of us living right next to the Great Barrier Reef being ‘too close’ to it to see that it’s dying, and all those clever people in air-conditioned offices thousands of kilometres away can see it more clearly. We who lived through the 70s can’t understand how it was cooler in the 70s summers than now, but those same people in air-conditioned offices who weren’t born until decades afterwards can understand it better.

fretslider
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 27, 2022 4:28 am

What they’re counting on is those of us who experienced real extreme weather in 1976 and 1987 etc won’t be here to remind them it has been, er, more extreme in the past forever.

“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

The present is proving to be a tad problematic….

Last edited 1 month ago by fretslider
Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 27, 2022 5:01 am

Yes my memory is playing the same tricks on me, I’m sure it didn’t rain until Denis Howell became rainmaker in chief. That summer was part of a series of dry summers.
So are my eyes this summer, I’m sure it rained this summer after July 14th, that’s the day I got my car back after waiting 4 months for a spare part, and within a couple of days there was rain, and showers for several days. The much hyped hot days this summer lasted about 36 hours where I am now, as it wasn’t three days we didn’t get the obligatory thunderstorm.

fretslider
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 27, 2022 5:06 am

You, and I, were cheated…

observa
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 27, 2022 8:31 am

Us old fogeys simply weren’t weaned proper-

As an undergraduate at the University of Western Australia, he “teetered on the brink of working on the salinity problem in WA”. But at 41, Pedro belongs to a generation weaned on warnings about rising temperatures.
The million year ice project: the quest to find the oldest ice on Earth (msn.com)

I did like the bit about Milankovitch cycles not cycling proper-

“It’s really worrying as a scientist when you realise you could have a perfectly good explanation for either [cycle], but you can’t explain why it would change,” 

Stop worrying with impure thoughts. Gotta be CO2 dooming dummy as the science is settled remember.

Brad-DXT
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 27, 2022 9:39 am

A convenient method to bypass the propaganda and temperature “adjustments” is to research newspaper archives. Compare the present temperature to the archived weather printed in 1936 or the year of your choice. It’s illuminating.

mike
Reply to  fretslider
August 27, 2022 7:56 am

When we start seriously considering the fruity bouquet of English wines, call me. I’ll motor over, and fill my boot with a few cases.

OweninGA
Reply to  mike
August 28, 2022 6:06 pm

You’ll need a TARDIS for that trip, apparently Yorkshire produced quite the Wine crop for the Domesday Book in 1066-1070.

devels tower
August 27, 2022 2:59 am

Current plots if curious…t

https://mead.uslakes.info/Level/

Ron Long
Reply to  devels tower
August 27, 2022 3:21 am

Thanks for the reference to the level of Lake Mead. At the same site is a report on the entire Colorado River, from origin to finishing into the Gulf of California. Remember, Mexico has a yearly legal right to a certain water flow minimum, so they don’t yo-yo up and down with cycles as much as other users along the river. Anyone who visited Las Vegas Metroplex 30 years ago and very recently would be stunned at the explosive growth of housing out into the desert (and the fountains at the Bellagio still put on their show).

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Ron Long
August 27, 2022 5:22 am

It is my understanding that the large casinos have their own deep wells and do not draw much water from Lake Mead. It is also my understanding that California has been overdrawing their allotment for many years.

Duane
Reply to  Tom in Florida
August 27, 2022 8:06 am

That is true. Western water law is very different from eastern US water law. Here in Florida, despite a humid climate and lots of surface water, most water consumption is drawn from wells. The State of Florida treats all groundwater as a public resource that cannot be “owned” by right but is only allowed by permit from one of the several water management districts.

Whereas in most western states, water – whether on the surface or underground – is a property right, some of which is publicly owned and some of which is privately owned. A private water right owner is more or less entitled to use and even waste their water.

Drake
Reply to  Duane
August 27, 2022 11:53 am

Of course “waste”, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Liberals ALWAYS want to be the beholders, i.e. do as WE say.

Bryan A
Reply to  Duane
August 28, 2022 11:15 pm

And Florida is riddled with Sink Holes as well as subsiding coastal land hampering accurate sea level measurements

Drake
Reply to  Tom in Florida
August 28, 2022 4:02 pm

There are several casinos that have their own water rights. They had golf courses and then they took them out or reduced their size, they had ‘rights” to use the water for other purposes. Ex. The Bellagio fountains, the Mirage and Treasure Island landscaping and volcano water feature and the Winn landscaping, there they eliminated about 1/2 of the # of holes for the golf course instead of eliminating it altogether.

If you see a pattern, Steve Wynn properties, then you understand how he did so much to improving the quality of resorts in LV. You may not know that until the Wynn, he built properties where the features were for all to see. At the Wynn and Encore, the features were built to be viewed from the resort, not the street/sidewalk.

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  Ron Long
August 27, 2022 5:50 am

“Anyone who visited Las Vegas Metroplex 30 years ago and very recently would be stunned at the explosive growth of housing out into the desert (and the fountains at the Bellagio still put on their show).”

******
Exactly Ron. Las Vegas went from being a sleepy town of just 35,000 in 1950 to a sizable metropolitan area of over 2.8 million today. It was still under a million as recently as 1995. See the charts in the link below.

https://www.macrotrends.net/cities/23043/las-vegas/population

When you look at the Lake Mead water level today, it is not hard to tell that the sizable growth in Las Vegas’ population over the decades has a lot to do with it.

JD Lunkerman
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
August 27, 2022 8:18 am

Please when you speak about Southern Nevada, which is mainly Las Vegas, educate yourself. It is the only place in the world that recycles water in the way that it does. 40% of the water used is eventually pumped back in Lake Mead after being treated. They cannot capture the water used for landscaping. This is a model for water usage.

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  JD Lunkerman
August 27, 2022 9:04 am

How much water does the Las Vegas region get from wells and/or sources other than the lake?

Even if 40% of the water used in L.V. is recycled and returned to the lake, are you not still not taking more out of it than is flowing into it? If the greater L.V. area keeps growing (which if probably will), is the net outflow (if there is one) from the lake not a continuing and growing problem?

Sparky
Reply to  JD Lunkerman
August 27, 2022 9:48 am

Doesn’t that mean that 60% is used while the population went from under 1 million to over 2.8 million? Math is hard, but it seems like usage has nearly tripled?

Drake
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
August 27, 2022 12:04 pm

Not so. Nevada has a very small, in comparison to California, and even Arizona, allotment of water from the Colorado River. LV growth has almost nothing to do with the overuse of the Colorado River flow.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_River_Compact

Nevada has only 4% of the lower river basin allotment and until no too long ago, Nevada didn’t even reach its full allotment and other states were using that water. Just guessing (No research done, I could be a climate scientist!) but I would say that California and Arizona canal evaporation probably exceeds the entire volume of the Nevada allotment.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority banked river water in the Las Vegas Valley aquifers over the years to “use” more of its allotment before actual maximum usage was reached.

Ben Vorlich
August 27, 2022 4:45 am

In the UK we’re having a drought with hosepipe bans and minor restrictions. Climate Change of course. But
The last major public water supply reservoir to be constructed in the UK for water supply purposes was Carsington in 1991 15th largest in UK Prior to that Kielder Water in 1981 and Rutland Water in 1976 (number 1 amd 2 in size). Since 1976 the population of The United Kingdom has grown from 56 million in 1976, 57million in 1991 to 68 million now. Data on reservoir closures is very sparse as the water companies (there are 12) don’t publish the data for obvious reasons. So no new reservoirs for a population increase of 20%, but closure of some/many? older smaller ones.
As an aside we’re still suffering from raw sewage being dumped into rivers and the sea So despite Mrs Thatcher’s claims that private sector would sort these supply and disposal ,problems nothing has been achieved in terms of dumping untreated sewage into the seas and rivers or having enough reservoir capacity..

fretslider
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 27, 2022 5:07 am

There are a few million more of us since 1991

Just what is the census for?

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 27, 2022 7:17 am

Too many muppets playing politics and not getting on with essential tasks. This seems quite a common problem in the developed Western world.

Brad-DXT
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
August 27, 2022 9:45 am

Too many muppets getting paid off to do someone else’s tasks.

weimdog
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
August 29, 2022 2:44 pm

Here in California we haven’t built a new reservoir since 1979 while the population has doubled from around 20M to 40M.

Duane
August 27, 2022 4:57 am

What the low reservoir levels of today provide the warmunists is a great visual “proof” of claimed climate change. We live in a digital video age where seeing (the pixels) is believing.

But yeah, any sentient person can readily also comprehend that adding millions of new water users in a desert region that depends solely upon imported water to maintain their luxurious landscaping will eventually run into a natural limit on water supply. That’s where the graph above comes in handy – but other than WUWT, or some obscure government website that nobody looks at, is this graph to be seen? Certainly on none of the national TV broadcast networks, or most newspapers and their websites.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Duane
August 27, 2022 5:16 am

adding millions of new water users in a desert region that depends solely upon imported water to maintain their luxurious landscaping will eventually run into a natural limit on water supply.”

It’s like people in the southwest don’t understand they are living in semi-arid and arid geography. It’s like history for most of them started the day they were born and any changes they see have to be climate change! They have no basis on which to actually judge what is going on around them.

Editor
Reply to  Duane
August 27, 2022 9:26 am

People need to realize that Lake Meade and Lake Powell are MAN MADE Reservoirs which has limited size and inflow which is now being overdrawn due to large population growth in recent decades.

When people are easily mislead even lied to about this it is because they are too lazy to do their own research that easily shows where the real cause is their own population growth impact is the dominant cause of a declining reservoir.

Lazy people surrender their power to the media and government who can manipulate them which is sad.

Duane
Reply to  Sunsettommy
August 27, 2022 1:01 pm

Yes … in fact, reservoirs create additional “losses” of accessible liquid water by greatly increasing evaporation (due to a much increased surface area compared to the original undammed stream) and infiltration into the ground (again, due to the far larger bottom surface area than the original stream). These losses are significant, measured in tens of percent of the incoming water volume.

Of course this water does not disappear – it become water vapor that is transported by winds and ends up precipitating somewhere down wind. Water is never “consumed” – it is only used, or reused.

The western states could do a great deal to conserve the water they get from the rivers, particularly the Colorado River basin, but they’ve been reluctant to do so because of the infrastructure cost and also the social changes needed. For instance, treatment of wastewater and distributing it in a separate reclaimed water system for irrigating landscaping would be huge improvement, but it’s costly. Throughout most of Florida the major population centers have all gone to reclaimed water for the last two decades or so.

Additionally, governments could mandate through local codes that native species in xeriscape designs be the predominant landscaping in urban areas, instead of the extremely thirsty lawn grasses and hedges and trees that aren’t adapted to dry climates. What most people don’t realize is that about 80% of the water used by municipal water utilities goes to landscape irrigation. Vastly more than the volume of water consumed by household fixtures (showers, toilets, laundry).

Finally, dry areas in the Pacific Coast could adopt desalination to produce drinking water. It’s done here in Florida (Tampa Bay) and in other dry regions around the world. It’s expensive, but it works.

But elected governments are very much loathe to impose new infrastructure costs, it’s so much easier to just rely on nature and the Federal government to supply their water – until it runs out, of course.

Last edited 1 month ago by Duane
Steven F
Reply to  Sunsettommy
August 27, 2022 5:58 pm

In addition California and Arizona draw their water from the Colorado river down stream from lake Mead. If the like level drops below sea pool level Arizona, California, and mexico would not get any water. Additionally Colorado and Utah have farms irrigated with Colorado river water. These farms evaporate some of the water long before it gets to lake Mead Farming in medico uses up what is left. Since 1960 the Colorado river typically dries up before it reaches the ocean.

Robert MacLellan
August 27, 2022 5:08 am

Keep up the pressure, the truth will out although perhaps without an apology.
https://www.cbc.ca/radio/whatonearth/retire-polar-bear-as-climate-icon-1.6555579
How to say oops without saying oops. It is hard to believe the CBC printed this.

fretslider
Reply to  Robert MacLellan
August 27, 2022 5:19 am

“Polar bears were just an early harbinger of change,” Derocher said.

No, they were the poster child for the global warming narrative, which took over from the new ice age narrative.

The rest is, well, semi-detached.

Tomsa
Reply to  Robert MacLellan
August 27, 2022 8:58 am

I read half that article earlier this morning and gave up! On another CBC article today about British inflation and mostly talking about the price of gas, they noted that “more than 40% of its electricity is generated from natural gas.” More than could mean anything. Anytime I’ve looked at http://gridwatch.templar.co.uk the use of natural gas is usually at least 50%. for example right now solar is dropping, wind is minimal (3.35%) and gas is at 54.67%

Robert MacLellan
Reply to  Tomsa
August 27, 2022 12:12 pm

It might not be much but it still is the closest I have seen CBC come to admitting they had been promoting false info liberally larded with bad grace and gaslighting.

Robert MacLellan
Reply to  Robert MacLellan
August 27, 2022 12:13 pm

Yes I used ‘liberally’ fully aware of both common meanings.

Ktm
August 27, 2022 5:49 am

In Utah the media is crowing about how regular folks tightened their collective belts and used 10% less residential water last year. This translates into a savings of ~1 billion gallons.

Since 3 acre feet of water is about a million gallons, that means the water conservation efforts have delivered ~3,000 acre feet of water savings.

Meanwhile the Great Salt Lake holds between 7-15 million acre feet of water, and is now at the low end of that range. The low water level has shrunk the surface area, which lowers the amount of evaporation. The estimate is that by having such a low water level, there is ~1 million acre feet LESS evaporation per year, 300x more natural ‘water savings’ than the residential conservation efforts.

Ktm
Reply to  Ktm
August 27, 2022 6:16 am

The surface area of the GSL is currently ~600,000 acres.

So, the total impact of the residential water conservation effort over the last year is equivalent to 0.06 inches (1.5 mm) of extra water level in the GSL.

August 27, 2022 5:55 am

“The real problem is that too much water is being taken out of the reservoir.”

— The biggest consumer that consumes falling lake levels – is evaporation.
~ 1-1.5m³ water/m²*year can be saved by floating PV systems – with additional sustainable electricity production of ~ 400KWh/m²*y + extra hydropower + a cooler lake. Of course, this also applies in one way or another to all other lakes – worldwide.
Are you sure that you are governed by intelligent representatives of the people with an overview?

https://climateprotectionhardware.wordpress.com/

Tim Gorman
Reply to  coolmaster
August 27, 2022 2:03 pm

Evaporation slows as surface area shrinks. But the surface water is shrinking *faster* over time. That’s usage, not evaporation.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
August 27, 2022 2:37 pm

Evaporation slows down with floating PV systems over the lake surface.
1km² of PV system can save ~ 1,5 Mio. m³ every year.

Is that physical fact so hard to understand for you ?

Drake
Reply to  coolmaster
August 28, 2022 4:05 pm

Exactly how much stock do you own?

How would this fantasy hold up to 100 MPH winds blowing for MILES across the surface of Lake Mead?

Old Man Winter
August 27, 2022 5:59 am

Denver gets 1/2 of its water from the Colorado River Basin. With ~3M
people, it’s a bit bigger than Vegas. Unlike Vegas, grass lawns probably
haven’t been restricted/outlawed yet as Denver isn’t in a desert.

Last edited 1 month ago by Old Man Winter
mal
Reply to  Old Man Winter
August 27, 2022 9:25 am

The problem is Denver and it growth, they now take 20% of the Colorado water. Twenty years ago that was not true. The stupidity of taking west slope water to the east slope defies logic.

Dena
Reply to  Old Man Winter
August 27, 2022 12:36 pm

Reminds me of a cartoon on TV where the character digs a swimming pool and when complete, takes out a bottle of water, puts a single drop in the pool and the pool is instantly filled. I was young enough at the time that I thought it was a really neat idea but unfortunately science has clouded my mind over the years so I understand what that’s impossible.

JBnID
August 27, 2022 6:22 am

People on earth are like ants on a cruise ship. We have no more control over climate than we do the steering.
Relax.

Colt Baldwin
Reply to  JBnID
August 27, 2022 7:56 am

Right – relax. It’s just a shower to get rid of lice.

Rumplestiltskin
August 27, 2022 6:44 am

It’s not just Las Vegas’ need for water, but also electricity. Then there are the farms down river who need to keep the flow going. Maybe they should consider drilling some wells instead !

Drake
Reply to  Rumplestiltskin
August 27, 2022 12:10 pm

Nevada does get a far greater % of Hoover Dam electricity than they get in water, but still California gets the lion’s share.

How is the firm energy generated at Hoover Dam allocated?

Arizona – 18.9527 percent

Nevada – 23.3706 percent

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California – 28.5393 percent

Burbank, CA – 0.5876 percent

Glendale, CA – 1.5874 percent

Pasadena, CA – 1.3629 percent

Los Angeles, CA – 15.4229 percent

Southern California Edison Co. – 5.5377 percent

Azusa, CA – 0.1104 percent

Anaheim, CA – 1.1487 percent

Banning, CA – 0.0442 percent

Colton, CA – 0.0884 percent

Riverside, CA – 0.8615 percent

Vernon, CA – 0.6185 percent

Boulder City, NV – 1.7672 percent

Drake
Reply to  Drake
August 28, 2022 4:08 pm

And I forgot to mention that years ago Nevada paid for generator upgrades to get a larger % of power output due to the increased efficiency.

RevJay4
August 27, 2022 7:03 am

The imaginary villain of “climate change” is at it again. Brought to you by the fairy dust folks of the magic land of socialist utopianism. None of the claims by those folks have any credible evidence to back up their alligator mouths. Just computer models manipulated by the morons who plug the info into them to result in what they want them to show.
I thought we already got past that bs. Guess not. The left is really good at beating a dead horse.
Just sayin’.

Colt Baldwin
August 27, 2022 7:35 am

OR – Has anyone looked into the probability of intentional drainage into the Pacific? Is there a drainage system in place at points along the coast just in case the lake becomes contaminated?

Len Werner
August 27, 2022 7:44 am

I check Colorado webcams daily; when the Covid craziness expires (if it ever does) I still want to make a trip through the historic mining backcountry there. In the second image from this link to webcams at Berthoud Pass are some puddles beside the highway; they have been full of water all summer.

http://www.keno.org/colorado_web_cams/berthoud_pass_cams.htm

How does that happen in perpetual drought?–they have a water truck that runs up there and fills them daily?

I’ve also watched the winter snowpack charts for years, and they have almost all been within 80% of the average. There simply is no Colorado drought in reality, but there is an information drought in the minds of a lot of people who watch TV news.

Disputin
Reply to  Len Werner
August 27, 2022 10:28 am

…but there is an information drought in the minds of a lot of people who watch TV news.

Minds??

Bill Parsons
Reply to  Len Werner
August 27, 2022 5:00 pm

Yep. Front Range has been wet. The Southwest corner til recent months, not quite as good. Now almost all the 6 watersheds are “normal” “above normal” or “much above..”

https://waterwatch.usgs.gov/?m=real&r=co

Lots of mosquitoes and emerald green lawns in the suburbs along the front range. And on a hiking trip two weeks ago through Routt County to hike around some high mountain lakes guess what? Emerald green and lots of mosquitoes. Tons of mushrooms. Big patches of Amanita Muscaria.

An interesting side note is that the mountainous state of Colorado has most of the dams in the upper Colorado River network (19 of the dams upstream from Mead – Utah, Arizona and Nevada having the remaining 16 including Powel). Yet with all that water locked up, over 3 million acre feet, we have only two dams yielding hydro electric power. Hydro makes up the smallest contributor of eleven sources to our total electricity manufacture. Biomass gives us three times as much

https://www.eia.gov/state/print.php?sid=CO

Most of the rest of these dams are for irrigation and municipal water supplies for Colorado’s burgeoning population. When I was growing up here in the 50s population was about 1.3 million. Now it’s six. Speaking for other misanthropists, I would like to see that figure limited or reversed. I’ll be leading the charge here not too long from now.

Just to say, the warmists should not have to reach for any trend other than the demographic ones to satisfy their minions. There are too dam many people.

In “There Will Be Blood” Daniel Day Lewis plays an early day oil baron who has become rich and corrupt. In one scene he illustrates the point that the finite supply of things beneath a man’s property can always be siphoned off by his neighbors with a longer straw. Then he beats the poor guy’s head in.

Doug
August 27, 2022 7:48 am

There has been no increase in water storage in California since the mid 1970’s and a doubling of the population demanding water…of course its global warming .

Kevin
Reply to  Doug
August 27, 2022 3:23 pm

“There has been no increase in water storage in California since the mid 1970’s”, that’s not true.

Some recent additions;

Diamond Valley Lake and the Seven Oaks Dam.

Colt Baldwin
August 27, 2022 7:59 am

Has anyone looked into the probability of intentional drainage into the Pacific? Is there a drainage system in place at points along the coast just in case the lake becomes contaminated? 

Crazy idea, huh? Not so crazy when you consider that –

Dozens of food processing and distribution plants have been intentionally destroyed

Millions of chickens and turkeys have been destroyed due to “Avian Flu”

A manufactured virus and killer vaccines have resulted in millions of deaths across the globe

Federal law enforcement has been raiding the homes of Democrat political opponents

The government has been holding political prisoners in jail indefinitely without due process
for over 18 months – malnourished and denied medical care

Parents of school children have been labeled as “Domestic Terrorists” for opposing the indoctrination of their kids

Military efficiency and readiness has been devastated by the purge of tens of thousands of officers, pilots, and NCO’s who refuse to take the vaccine

Gas prices have skyrocketed due to pipeline shutdowns, drilling moratoriums, and bans on oil & gas leases

Supply chains have been hobbled by gas prices and vaccine mandates on truckers & dockworkers

Will Parker
August 27, 2022 8:28 am

If there really was a severe water shortage in the southwestern United States, then the government would close the southern border, right?

Old Man Winter
Reply to  Will Parker
August 27, 2022 8:51 am

Since Covid wasn’t reason enough to close the southern border, a severe
water shortage in the SW would only be another excuse to raid Mar-a-Lago
to see if Trump’s collusion with the Russians was causing it.

Trraid.jpg
Bill Parsons
Reply to  Old Man Winter
August 27, 2022 5:07 pm

From what I have heard he did leave the china, silverware and curtains.

griff
August 27, 2022 8:29 am

Evaporation? Heatwaves?

Editor
Reply to  griff
August 27, 2022 9:27 am

Haw haw haw haw, you didn’t read the article at all your lazy git!

Climate believer
Reply to  griff
August 27, 2022 1:02 pm

Yeah… I mean what else could it be?

Lake mead.png
Tim Gorman
Reply to  griff
August 27, 2022 2:02 pm

The area is arid and semi-arid desert. Meaning heat waves are normal!

And evaporation slows as the surface area shrinks.

Dave Fair
Reply to  griff
August 27, 2022 4:15 pm

Griff, if Climate believer’s 2022 photo had a high enough resolution, you could see my house in the upper middle portion of the green area that is Las Vegas and its surrounding areas. It is an arid-to-semiarid climate but we get periodic cold waves and flooding rains. Climate change?

Dena
August 27, 2022 8:50 am

The big problem is California. As they have senior rights to the water they refuse to cut back on their water consumption. They wish to continue to waste valuable water while we in Arizona face a 20% cut in our already small share.

California wants to use valuable water to maintain the Salton Sea, a body of water that didn’t exist until the 20th century and is totally artificial.

California is protecting the Delta smelt. This is because they have plenty of water in the northern part of the state but they use a common river to transport the water to the south. The pumps that recover the water endanger the Delta smelt however the problem could be solved by constructing a bypass so the Delta Smelt never see the dangerous blades of the pumps. California would rather spend money on the high speed rail to nowhere instead of ensuring their water supply.

California hasn’t constructed a new dam in years but is also in the process of removing existing dams making the problem worst. The excuse is the dams interfere with the natural migration of Salmon and while they do, perhaps another solution could be found.

Lush lawns are common in California where many lawns in Arizona consist of rocks with a few low water plants water with drip irrigation.

California will suck up all the water they can until Arizona and other states have none even though Arizona is a big contributor to the Colorado river through the Little Colorado river basin. Perhaps Arizona should tap into the Little Colorado before California even sees the water.

Meanwhile Arizona needs to get by with the Salt River and Verde River system. Originally this system would hold a 7 year supply of water without Colorado River water however with the population expansion, the system is reaching the limit of what it can supply. I live along the Salt River and it will go for years without any water in it other that ground water replenishment. It is truly the Salt River is the river that came to Phoenix and never left. In addition, Phoenix uses our waste water to cool the nuclear plant and for agriculture needs. We don’t waste a drop and still we need to make up the missing 20% somehow.

Steve Oregon
August 27, 2022 8:50 am

This reminds me of Portland’s traffic woes. There’s been no freeway, expressway or blvd capacity added since 1983 while many blvds have been “traffic calmed”, (deliberately) slowed with medians, bike lanes, bubble curbs and transit infrastructure.
40 years of traffic growth and added capacity has choked traffic and not caused any re-thinking of traffic engineering.

August 27, 2022 8:55 am

I’ve recently added a new dimension to my ongoing sun-climate work wrt sunspots numbers and hydrology, which is applicable to the Lake Mead situation, with a tie-in to the PDO too. Dr. Spencer added a part 2 to this article, which addresses the PDO link.

The difference between droughts/deluges is sunspot activity (SN).

The zero-crossings of the cumulative departure from average (CDA) of the streamflow at Lee’s Ferry Arizona were used as endpoints to calculate the average sunspot activity between them. Three periods were averaged for Lee’s Ferry data to a SN of 99

The Lake Mead inflow and outflows were similarly analyzed for SN of 97.7 and 106.5, respectively, and for the Lake Mead mean sea level elevation (MSLE) for a SN of 104.8.

comment image

comment image

The second panel of the image second link summarizes other precipitation and drought indices that were similarly analyzed, such as the PDO with a CDA zero-crossing average of SN = 99 too.

These results indicate world drought and precipitation hinge upon the sunspot number range of 100 +/-6 SN.

Since sunspot activity average after 2004 at 42 SN was much lower than the prior few decades, drought has increased, especially in the US. The drought has recently begun to ease after above-average monsoonal deluges occurred after solar activity increased to above 100 SN late last year into this year, confirming the results of this new analysis method.

We can therefore expect the Lake Mead situation and elsewhere to improve more as this drought period recedes during/after higher precipitation from the top of this solar cycle, particularly from expected upcoming El Nino activity.

Last edited 1 month ago by coolclimateinfo
Steve Oregon
Reply to  Bob Weber
August 27, 2022 10:39 am

Comparative graphs for Lake Powell would be interesting.

PA Dutchman
August 27, 2022 8:57 am

Also add the increase in water irrigation both legal and illegal in the growing of cannabis.

Steve Oregon
August 27, 2022 9:08 am

The rhetoric of doom over weather variation is on full display with droughts.
There’s always a drought somewhere.

The Texas drought in 2011 produced doom speak of permanent ruin.
comment image
Then everything filled back up in subsequent years.

The California Drought of 2015 spewed forth hysteria like never before.
comment image
Then everything fill up soon after.

Look at those maps for both years & notice where there is NO DROUGHT at all.
During the 2011 Texas drought there was NO Drought in all of CA.
During the CA drought of 2015 there was close to zero drought in all of Texas.
The images are impressive.

Editor
August 27, 2022 9:14 am

The American Southwest is in a drought — a continuing long-term drought. Unsure how many centuries this has been true — but it has been so for a long time — which is why most of it is “a desert” by common-language definition. There are other technical definitions that give the Southwest many differing climate zones — but we can all agree that it is generally dry.

We keep taking out more water than goes in. If Lake Mead was your bank account you’d instantly see the problem. Even the rich cannot allow that to continue forever.

The drought has been both worse and “not as bad” in the past — some believe the Anasazi were forced to leave their homelands by a severe period of drought.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 27, 2022 9:28 am

Society would be much better served if all the money and effort for carbon sequestration could be redirected to excess rainfall sequestration and ocean desalination projects.

Reply to  Bob Weber
August 27, 2022 10:43 am

YES! Israel has done this. We, here in arid Utah, need to get moving on this, as well.

Dena
Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 27, 2022 10:35 am

Arizona is covered with locations that natives have abandon. Phoenix once had an irrigation system that was abandon then rediscovered when white settlers decided to build a new system. The location for the new system match where the old one was placed. Another location is Don Lancaster’s Hanging Canal preprint-bcsb1.pdf . Water is always a problem and with the good growing climate of the Southwest, people have always been tempted to live here.

Larry Hamlin
August 27, 2022 9:52 am

Great analysis and article!! Thank you.

Gunga Din
August 27, 2022 10:49 am

How much water does California take to supply desert areas? (Like LA?)

Coastal Kev
August 27, 2022 11:16 am

It’s being drained on purpose. No new dams , let the water flow to the sea….instant climate change.

Olen
August 27, 2022 12:41 pm

No sweat! When climate change kicks in there will we severe rain fall and there will be more water than the lake can handle. Be patient that may be a while.

Kit P
August 27, 2022 1:11 pm

When we bought a house about 10 miles from Lake Mead, the irrigation systems was broken and the grass was dead. A few loads of rock later the landsacaping was done. There are still a few houses left with grass but they look aswful in both summer and winter because it is a bad place to grow grass.

For readers from other places, most of Nevada is in the Great Basin where water does not drain to the ocean. Except for locations with mountain runoff, not a nice place to live.

FretlessT
August 27, 2022 1:46 pm

California stopped shipping water from the north to the south back when Schwarzenegger was governor. Every attempt to get fresh water to farms and cities where it is needed has been thwarted by environmentalists, most recently a proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach – with tacit support from our betters in Sacramento who will settle for nothing less than Toilet-to-Tap.

Mike Maguire
August 27, 2022 7:04 pm

The lower Colorado River Basin is experiencing an unusually wet Summer monsoon season here in 2022.
A few locations are near records. The included map that show this is rainfall over the past 90 days.

On average these locations receive 50% of their annual precipitation during the June-September monsoon but that varies by region.

This Summer, the wettest areas in AZ/NM(pinks on the map) have seen more than their annual average precipitation in just 2 months and have been the wettest places in the country compared to average(average isn’t a heck of a lot in the desert).

That is very temporarily helping to ease the pain a bit in the state of Arizona. None of the state is in severe drought any longer and drought has improved across the entire state since early June.

Many more details on that and Lake Mead in the discussion below.

Extremely robust Summer Monsoon/Lake Mead

https://www.marketforum.com/forum/topic/88409/

+++++++++++++++++++++++
What does the future weather have in store?

This is the 3rd year of a very long lived La Nina, which is the biggest short term factor in the severity of the current drought.

I’d be willing to bet my house that when we have the next El Nino, we will see greatly increased precipitation amounts in the West that will help to ease/shrink the drought in many areas and Lake Mead will likely see some recovery.
A long lived El Nino that affects 2 consecutive Winters could help significantly to increase the level of Lake Mead, especially if water use cuts are maintained.

However, as Dr. Spencer states, there’s just too many people living in this desert (that became a desert from centuries of weather similar to this) to provide all of them with unlimited water every year.

Screenshot 2022-08-27 at 16-32-47 AHPS Precipitation Analysis.png
Mike Maguire
Reply to  Mike Maguire
August 27, 2022 8:39 pm

The current strong -PDO configuration in the Pacific (that strongly favors La Nina and is helping to sustain the current long lived La Nina-that won’t die) makes having 2 consecutive Winters with El Nino’s much less likely.
That’s the solution that we have no control over……..weather/climate.

Screenshot 2022-08-27 at 21-21-05 Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).png
Mike Maguire
Reply to  Mike Maguire
August 28, 2022 10:27 pm

Related to the rains mentioned above:
Mother Nature lends a ‘foot;’ lake’s level rises
https://bouldercityreview.com/news/mother-nature-lends-a-foot-lakes-level-rises-70896/

The wettest Las Vegas Valley monsoon season in a decade likely isn’t the only reason behind it, but Lake Mead has risen just over 18 inches during recent area rainfall.
As of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, the lake was at 1,042.44 feet in elevation.
On July 27, about the time rainfall became a nearly daily event in the area, the lake elevation was 1,040.71 feet — which is also the low point for the lake so far this year. Some downpours exceeded a half inch in 10 minutes.
Harry Reid International Airport has received 1.08 inches so far this monsoon season with several areas of the valley receiving considerably more. Between July 27 through Aug. 12, Boulder City received .87 inches of rain.
Rainfall that doesn’t soak into the ground usually finds its way through the Las Vegas Wash to the lake, Southern Nevada Water Authority spokesman Bronson Mack said after the first summer storm in late July.
The rise of 1.73 feet is also the only rise during the summer in at least three years. During summer months the lake level typically declines a foot or two. Winter snowpack on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains is, of course, the biggest factor in the amount of water that flows into Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

Austin
August 29, 2022 7:04 am

Same problem with Northern Nevada. The dry pan evaporation rate has dropped over the last century and snowpack runoff has increased over the same period. Many of the dry lakes would come back if water diversion ended.

Craig Howard
August 29, 2022 5:06 pm

We decided, en masse, to move by the millions to the freakin’ desert and then we wondered where the water went. At the same time, we decided to grow most of our food in the freakin’ desert, too.

Now, we could’ve grown it in the Midwest where there’s plenty of water, but all the land there is already devoted to growing fake gasoline.

%d bloggers like this: