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    A previously submerged boat photographed at Lake Mead near Boulder City, Nevada, on May 10, hints at the direness of the West's water woes. John Locher/AP This video story was created by Pattrn and is shared here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. One hundred years ago, Western states and Mexico signed a pact to divvy up water from the Colorado River, based on century-old science and historic river flows. How times have changed. Today, 40 million people across seven states rely on the Colorado as their primary water source. But with the river’s flow dwindling, key reservoirs like Lake Mead and Lake Powell running insanely low, and water restrictions getting more intense, battles are raging over who gets this live-giving liquid—and how much they get. Below, our Climate Desk partner Pattrn (an affiliate of The Weather Channel) sketches out this dire situation in about three minutes. Check it out.  
    The United Nations has warned that the two largest water reservoirs in the United States are down to “dangerously low levels” due to the impacts of climate change. Source: ABC News/Youtube Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the State’s largest reservoirs, have become so low that they are on the verge of reaching “dead pool status,” which is the point at which the water levels drop so low that the downstream flow halts. When the reservoirs do not have this flow, things like hydroelectric power can’t work, which threatens the electricity supply for millions of people in the region, according to the UN. “The conditions in the American west, which we’re seeing around the Colorado River basin, have been so dry for more than 20 years that we’re no longer speaking of a drought,” said Lis Mullin Bernhardt, an ecosystems expert at UNEP. “We refer to it as ‘aridification’ – a new very dry normal.” The Colorado River system supplies water to over 40 million people and irrigates 5.7 million acres of agricultural land. The water system supplies water to...
    As drought and climate change tighten their grip on the American West, the sight of fountains, swimming pools, gardens and golf courses in cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Boise, and Albuquerque can be jarring at first glance. Western water experts, however, say they aren’t necessarily cause for concern. Over the past three decades, major Western cities — particularly in California and Nevada — have diversified their water sources, boosted local supplies through infrastructure investments and conservation, and use water more efficiently. Peter Gleick, president emeritus of the Pacific Institute, has studied water resources for decades. He calls the reduction in per capita water use a “remarkable story” and one that’s not widely acknowledged. “That’s a huge success throughout the West,” Gleick said. “All of the cities in the West have made progress.” But with less water flowing into the Colorado River, which serves 40 million people in the West and northern Mexico, experts say the measures taken by cities will still not be enough long-term. Here’s a look at how Western cities have prepared for...
    Water levels are at a historic low at Lake Powell on April 5, 2022 in Page, Arizona.Rj Sangosti| Medianews Group | The Denver Post via Getty Images The federal government on Tuesday announced it will delay the release of water from one of the Colorado River's major reservoirs, an unprecedented action that will temporarily address declining reservoir levels fueled by the historic Western drought. The decision will keep more water in Lake Powell, the reservoir located at the Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona, instead of releasing it downstream to Lake Mead, the river's other primary reservoir. The actions come as water levels at both reservoirs reached their lowest levels on record. Lake Powell's water level is currently at an elevation of 3,523 feet. If the level drops below 3,490 feet, the so-called minimum power pool, the Glen Canyon Dam, which supplies electricity for about 5.8 million customers in the inland West, will no longer be able to generate electricity. The delay is expected to protect operations at the dam for next 12 months, officials said during a press briefing on Tuesday, and...
    (CNN)The Colorado River — which provides drinking water, irrigation and electricity for more than 40 million people in the West — is the most endangered river in the United States this year, according to the nonprofit conservation group American Rivers. From the Pacific Northwest to Alabama, American Rivers ranked the top 10 most endangered rivers across the country — crises brought on by worsening droughts, human-made dams and coal-ash contamination. The Colorado River's outdated water management practices have been worsened by climate change, pushing the river into the No. 1 slot, the group said.Matt Rice, the group's director of the Colorado Basin Program, said that the climate crisis is really the theme of this year's report. "The climate crisis is really a water crisis, and ground zero for that crisis is the Colorado River Basin," Rice told CNN. "We are being pushed in realtime to live with the river we have, to adapt to a hotter, drier reality in the Colorado River."Americas most endangered rivers1. Colorado River Threats: Climate crisis, outdated water management 2. Snake River Threats:...
    (CNN) — As the American West continues into its 22nd year of a parching megadrought, officials at the federal government’s top water resource management agency are trying to plan for an uncertain and unprecedented time for the nation’s largest reservoirs. “When [the system] was built 100 years ago, you could look outside your window if you’re in Colorado and see snow, and know that that’s your reservoir for the spring,” Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton told CNN in an exclusive interview. “It’s not like that anymore. What you’re seeing there is just a completely different way in which the system is managed.” READ MORE: Community, Wildlife Experts At Odds Over Colossal Bear That Breaks Into Tahoe Keys HomesWinter weather conditions in the West have been, in a word, inconsistent. After California’s Sierra Nevada mountains were blanketed by 17 feet of snow in late December, the state then experienced one of its driest Januarys on record. Denver went an unusually long stretch with no snow in the early winter before the state saw storms in January. This lack of consistency...
    SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Despite strong spring precipitation, some rafting companies in the high country are adjusting routes earlier than usual due to low water levels. Trips on the upper Blue River in Summit County were cut short earlier than usual this year. (credit: CBS) In order to run commercial trips, the river needs to flow around 400 cubic feet per second. As of Tuesday, the flows were just above 50 cfs. According to the USGS, the average flow for the upper Blue River for this time of year is just over 700 cfs. Denver Water says it plans to increase outflows from the Dillon Reservoir later this week, but it won’t be enough for rafting. (credit: CBS) “After a hot and dry summer that impacted soil moisture last year and a below average snowpack this season, we expect low flows in the Blue are likely to preclude a rafting season on the river. While Denver Water plans to increase outflows from Dillon up to 100 cubic feet per second later this week (from 50 cfs, currently), that isn’t...
    SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Despite strong spring precipitation, some rafting companies in the high country are adjusting routes earlier than usual due to low water levels. Trips on the upper Blue River in Summit County were cut short earlier than usual this year. (credit: CBS) In order to run commercial trips, the river needs to flow around 400 cubic feet per second. As of Tuesday, the flows were just above 50 cfs. According to the USGS, the average flow for the upper Blue River for this time of year is just over 700 cfs. Denver Water says it plans to increase outflows from the Dillon Reservoir later this week, but it won’t be enough for rafting. (credit: CBS) “After a hot and dry summer that impacted soil moisture last year and a below average snowpack this season, we expect low flows in the Blue are likely to preclude a rafting season on the river. While Denver Water plans to increase outflows from Dillon up to 100 cubic feet per second later this week (from 50 cfs, currently), that isn’t...
    (CBS4)– The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just designated parts of Colorado as critical habitat for a rare songbird. The Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo migrates every year from Central and South America to breed in Mexico and the U.S. (credit: US Fish & Wildlife) On Tuesday, wildlife managers set aside 467 square miles along rivers and streams as critical habitat. Most of that is in Arizona and New Mexico. The designation includes part of the Colorado River in Mesa County and the North Fork of the Gunnison River in Delta County. (credit: CBS) The hope is the designation protects the land and supports the survival of the cuckoo.
    A YouTube creator hoping to 'leave his mark' jumped off the Pennybacker Bridge in Austin and suffered a fractured skull.  The dangerous jump was performed last Monday by Saa Fomba, a YouTuber whose video of the event has garnered nearly 8,000 views in 48 hours. As Fomba drove to the Pennybacker Bridge, which stands over the 1,450 mile Colorado River, he addressed the potentially fatal stunt to his audience.  'I don't see no fun in living a normal life,' he says to the camera.  YouTuber Saa Fomba (pictured) jumped from the Pennybacker Bridge in Austin, Texas, on November 23 and fractured his skull Footage shows Fomba waving his arms, counting to three and then jumping into the Colorado River (pictured)  Pictured: Saa Fomba mid-fall on November 23 when he jumped from the top of the Pennybacker Bridge in Austin The reckless stunt begins with Fomba climbing the Pennybacker Bridge's massive arch over the North Capital of Texas Highway as friends film from below.  After reaching the peak, Fomba waves his arms, counts to three and takes the perilous leap into the...
    DURANGO, Colo. (AP) – Authorities have identified a man whose body was found in the Animas River in southwestern Colorado. The Durango Herald reports rafters on a commercial float spotted 31-year-old Michael Flanagan in the water in the southern part of the city Tuesday, and the guide pulled the body to shore. (credit: iStock/Getty Images) Flanagan, who had been living in Durango, was wearing jeans and a shirt. The La Plata County coroner says the man drowned, but it’s not yet clear how he ended up in the river. It appears he had been in the water for about an hour to an hour and a half before he was found. (© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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