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Study: Lake Powell may not generate hydropower in 2023 due to drought

Colorado River water is released at the Glen Canyon Dam in 2004. File Photo by Will Powers/UPI
Colorado River water is released at the Glen Canyon Dam in 2004. File Photo by Will Powers/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Drought conditions have led to falling water levels at the second-largest man-made reservoir in the nation and could result in a loss of hydropower as soon as next year, according to a new government outlook.

New projections released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation show that there is a 3% chance that Lake Powell, a large reservoir that spans from northern Arizona to southern Utah, could drop below a minimum level needed to generate hydroelectricity next year.

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In June, the probability for Lake Powell -- which powers the Glen Canyon Dam -- to fall less than 3,490 feet was 0% in 2022 and 5% in 2023. That increased in August to 3% in 2022 and 34% in 2023.

From 2024 to 2026, chances of low levels range from 25% to 34%.

The projections also show that Lake Mead has a 12% chance of falling less than 1,000 feet in 2024. The probability increases to 22% in 2025 and 2026.

Falling water levels could affect 5.8 million homes and businesses that rely on Lake Powell for hydropower and 25 million people in the west who rely on Lake Mead's Hoover Dam.

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A study in 2020 found that 2000-2018 was the driest 19-year stretch since the 1500s.

Lake Powell collects water from multiple sources, including the Colorado River.

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