Category Archives: drought

Lake Mead is 61% empty

The drought in the Southwest gets worse, with serous implications for the growing cities in Nevada and Arizona.  Las Vegas gets 90% of its water from Lake Mead, which is now at its lowest level since it was filled 75 years ago.  I wonder if the climate deniers are also drought deniers.  NASA photo:


Lake Mead is drying up

From Mark Frauenfelder in Good. I wish he provided links to some data…


State water supply vulnerable to quakes, floods

Another California water worry–earthquakes that could undo the flow of fresh water through the delta to the California Water Project–which takes water to agriculture and LA. Big worry, and question of how government invests in protection against potential but catastrophic loss.

California drought update

DWR has a great website on California drought conditions.

South Fork of Lake Oroville, February 2009. More drought photos.


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California also depends a lot on Colorado River water, and fortunately Lake Powell is having a good year:

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Water scarcity ‘now bigger threat than financial crisis’

From The Independent :200903220928.jpg

“Humanity is facing “water bankruptcy” as a result of a crisis even greater than the financial meltdown now destabilising the global economy, two authoritative new reports show. They add that it is already beginning to take effect, and there will be no way of bailing the earth out of water scarcity.

The two reports – one by the world’s foremost international economic forum and the other by 24 United Nations agencies – presage the opening tomorrow of the most important conference on the looming crisis for three years. The World Water Forum, which will be attended by 20,000 people in Istanbul, will hear stark warnings of how half the world’s population will be affected by water shortages in just 20 years’ time, with millions dying and increasing conflicts over dwindling resources. (…)

Water use has been growing far faster than the number of people. During the 20th century the world population increased fourfold, but the amount of freshwater that it used increased nine times over. Already 2.8 billion people live in areas of high water stress, the report calculates, and this will rise to 3.9 billion – more than half the expected population of the world – by 2030. By that time, water scarcity could cut world harvests by 30 per cent – equivalent to all the grain grown in the US and India – even as human numbers and appetites increase.

Some 60 per cent of China’s 669 cities are already short of water. The huge Yellow River is now left with only 10 per cent of its natural flow, sometimes failing to reach the sea altogether. And the glaciers of the Himalayas, which act as gigantic water banks supplying two billion people in Asia, are melting ever faster as global warming accelerates. Meanwhile devastating droughts are crippling Australia and Texas.”

At the World Water Forum, going on now, China reports a serious water shortage in Hebei Province, which supplies Beijing.

Link to the UN World Water Assessment Program, and the Water in a Changing World report.

Link to the World Economic Forum Water Initiative report.

Energy, water and oil shale

From the WSJ:

Oil, Water Are Volatile Mix in West

Energy Firms Buying River Rights Add to Competition for Scarce Resource


DENVER — Oil companies have gained control over billions of gallons of water from Western rivers in preparation for future efforts to extract oil from shale deposits under the Rocky Mountains, according to a new report by an environmental group that opposes such projects.

The group, Western Resource Advocates, used public records to conclude that energy companies are collectively entitled to divert more than 6.5 billion gallons of water a day during peak river flows. The companies also hold rights to store, in dozens of reservoirs, 1.7 million acre feet of water, enough to supply metro Denver for six years.

Industry representatives said they have substantial holdings of water rights for future use in producing oil from shale, though they could not confirm the precise numbers in the report.

Before any move into full-scale oil shale production, the energy industry plans a close study of water issues, including the impact its operations would have on ranchers, farmers and communities that all rely on the same limited sources of water, said Richard Ranger, a senior policy adviser for the American Petroleum Institute. “It’s among the most important questions to be examined,” he said. (more…).


US drought monitor

As the California drought worsens, here is another map that we’ll be watching…

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