Years of Drought Puts American Hoover Dam in Trouble

The Hoover Dam, a hydroelectric power station near Las Vegas, is in danger of being shut down soon. Due to years of drought in the western United States, the volume of the water reservoir has been greatly reduced.

 

The plant is to provide electricity to hundreds of thousands of American families.

The Hoover Dam dams the Colorado River, creating Lake Mead, the most important water reservoir in the United States. That lake has already lost 28 percent of its capacity due to the ongoing drought of the past 23 years, which means there is less pressure to push the water through the turbines. So says Patti Aaron of the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency that manages the dam.

At its peak, the lake rose to 365 meters above sea level. Today the water level is 320 meters. That decreases by about 30 centimetres every week. When the level goes below 289 meters, water stops flowing through the turbines.

The Colorado River rises in the Rocky Mountains and flows through several US states. Due to climate change, less snow falls in the winter months or melts faster, with the associated consequences. The Hoover Dam went into operation in 1931, at the time as a symbol of the ambitions and know-how of American engineers.

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