Click the link to read the article on the Circle of Blue website (Delaney Nelson):
The American West is experiencing its most severe drought in 1,200 years. The consequences are far-reaching and long lasting. Forests become tinder boxes. Hydropower is weakened. Human health and wildlife are threatened. Each week, Circle of Blue breaks down the biggest stories, the latest data, and the most promising solutions to the United States’ most urgent water crisis. Read Dry: A Weekly Western Drought Digest, your go-to news brief on the drying American West.
– As of August 23, 39 percent of the U.S. and Puerto Rico are in drought, down four percentage points in the last month. Portions of Texas and the Southwest witnessed extraordinary downpours in recent weeks that relieved some drought stress but also caused severe flooding.
– Utah’s proposed Lake Powell pipeline struggles to make progress amid declining water levels and drought conditions.
– Data centers around the country face scrutiny for their substantial water use.
– California becomes first state to install solar panels over canals in an effort to combat drought.
– A single year of drought can reduce vegetation growth by more than 80 percent, researchers found. To gather their data, ecologists created artificial droughts at 100 research sites globally. While results of the study varied, some plots of land saw “catastrophic loss” in vegetation, according to Science Magazine.
– As the fall migration season approaches, birds traveling along the Northern California mountains to Central America will face dried up wetlands and shallow water. Migratory birds will have to travel further to find smaller amounts of water, which will likely increase the spread of diseases among the birds, the Enterprise-Record reports. The Centers for Disease Control reported 230,900 birds are affected by the current avian flu outbreak.
– The Paluxy River in the Texas Dinosaur Valley State Park is almost completely dried up – revealing dinosaur tracks from 113 million years ago.
Status of Reservoirs/Colorado River
– A group of seven water utilities across the Colorado River basin pledged last week to reduce their water consumption and increase water reuse and recycling programs. In a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation, officials representing utilities in Colorado, California and Nevada committed to implementing indoor and outdoor water-efficient programs, reducing the quantity of non-functional turf grass and installing drought- and climate-resilient landscaping. The utilities vowed to collaborate with other users in the basin, however their conservation efforts are not likely to make a considerable dent in the river’s water scarcity crisis, KUNC Colorado reports.
– The declining water levels of Lake Powell, which Reclamation predicts could fall to the point of dead pool in the coming years, have had major implications for ecosystems, business owners and residents throughout the region. Without action to save the Colorado River and its reservoirs, Lake Powell is “heading toward catastrophe,” Zak Podmore writes for the Salt Lake Tribune.