LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Hoover Dam is dwelling to one of many largest hydropower vegetation within the United States. And greater than half the electrical energy it produces is shipped to California.
But its capacity to ship that electrical energy has been dwindling and the reservoir ranges on the dam have been sinking to report lows.
On a go to to the dam, it doesn’t take lengthy to see simply how low Lake Mead has fallen.
Photos present a drastic comparability. An image of the reservoir in November of 2000 exhibits simply how a lot water has disappeared in contrast to a more moderen view, when the reservoir was at a report low.
“If you look at it on the reservoir here, you’ll see that we’re down about 158 feet from full pool. That’s what we euphemistically call the bathtub ring,” stated Doug Hendrix of the Bureau of Reclamation. “I mean, we’ve been creeping down to this level for quite some time … for the last 22 years.”
The bureau, which runs the dam, gave us a tour to clarify the issues the drought is inflicting. And it’s not simply the water provide.
It’s the power provide, too.
Lake Mead’s water is used to spin the generators that produce electrical energy at Hoover Dam. It’s one of many largest hydropower vegetation within the United States.
On the again aspect of the Hoover Dam, you possibly can see the transformer deck. That’s the place — as soon as the power is made — it’s despatched out so California and different states can use it. But due to the drought, the dam can’t generate as a lot power because it used to.
“Under full reservoir conditions we can generate about 2,074 Megawatts of power here, enough power for about a million residents,” Hendrix stated. “But unfortunately now, we’re down to — because of the lower reservoir conditions — we’re only generating about 66% efficiency these days.”
The Oroville Dam and others in California are struggling comparable fates. The Department of Water Resources says Lake Oroville could get so low by the top of summer season that the Edward Hyatt Power Plant there may not have the option to produce any power in any respect.
The hydropower downside is only one of many causes the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has put California at a “high risk” of power outages this summer season.
“During some hours when electricity consumption is at its highest, or as the solar generation output is reduced closer to the evening hours, there may be a need for system operators to take certain actions,” stated John Moura of NERC.
“So yes, our new assessment is warning — creating some caution of elevated risk — that some customers might see some outages in the summer,” Moura stated.
And Lake Mead continues to sink decrease, setting new data day-after-day.
The two-decade drought has pushed the lake to an elevation of 1068.5 toes as of Monday.
In August, a federal water scarcity declaration is predicted, which might set off computerized cuts in water utilization in a number of southwestern states.